Expedited Proceedings in the Delaware Court of Chancery

Expedited proceedings are a vital component to the enforcement of noncompetition agreements. In Delaware, a motion for expedited proceedings is usually filed simultaneously with the verified complaint in the Court of Chancery. Typical relief includes shortening the time to answer the complaint, establishing discovery cut-off dates, and setting a date for the preliminary injunction hearing. A telephonic hearing is normally held by the Court shortly after the motion is filed.

The main purpose of expediting the proceedings is, of course, to get prompt relief before irreparable harm occurs. Such proceedings also have the effect of placing the ex-employee (and in some cases, the new employer) on the ropes in quick fashion.

The Delaware Court of Chancery Rules provide the court with broad power to permit expedited proceedings. The burden for obtaining expedited proceedings is fairly light. The party seeking relief must demonstrate a “sufficiently colorable claim” and show a sufficient possibility of a threatened irreparable injury to justify the costs involved. For non-compete cases, this burden is usually satisfied.

While some defendants may attempt to argue the legal sufficiency of the plaintiff’s claims at the expedited proceeding hearing, these attempts are usually unsuccessful. The Court typically will not judge the merits or even the legal sufficiency of the complaint at such an early stage of the litigation.

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