Niyati Ahuja has co-authored a chapter in the publication: International Comparative Legal Guide - Litigation & Dispute Resolution 2024.

12 Litigation – Preliminaries

1.1 What type of legal system does your jurisdiction have? Are there any rules that govern civil procedure in your jurisdiction?

New York is a common law jurisdiction with its roots in English common law. The Civil Practice Law & Rules, supplemented by individual rules for specific courts and judges, governs civil procedure in state courts.

1.2 How is the civil court system in your jurisdiction structured? What are the various levels of appeal and are there any specialist courts?

New York has trial courts, called Supreme Courts, for each county, that have state-wide jurisdiction in law and equity, and generally hear cases involving damages over $25,000. There are lower courts that hear civil cases involving damages less than $25,000. An intermediate appeals court, called the Appellate Division, hears appeals from the Supreme Court and a lower appeals court, called the Appellate Term. The Court of Appeals is the final court of appeal and hears appeals from the State’s intermediate appellate courts, and in some instances from the trial courts.

There are also special courts for: (i) family matters; (ii) landlord–tenant/housing matters; (iii) estate administration and probate of wills; and (iv) actions against the State of New York for monetary damages. In several counties, the Supreme Court has a specialised Commercial Division for “commercial cases”, i.e., business disputes in which the amount at issue exceeds $100,000 (not including interest or attorneys’ fees). 

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