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October, 2013 Impending Changes to New Hampshire Civil Litigation Procedure Rules

The New Hampshire Supreme Court issue a recent Order of procedural rules changes for the New Hampshire Superior Court. The new rules will take effect on October 1, 2013, and will apply to all civil actions in the Superior Court pending as of that date or filed thereafter.

The prior Superior Court Rules will remain in effect for domestic relations cases in the Cheshire County Superior Court until the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court with respect to such cases is expanded to include Cheshire County. The prior Superior Court rules will also apply to criminal cases in the Superior Court until the Supreme Court adopts new rules of criminal procedure that will govern criminal cases in all New Hampshire trial courts.

civil-litigation-picThe new civil rules are based on a draft proposal submitted to the Supreme Court in 2007 by the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts and reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Rules.
“The process of writing these rules was long and complex. All of us on the Supreme Court want to thank Attorney David Slawsky and the members of his subcommittee for all their dedication and hard work in bringing the new civil rules to fruition,” Chief Justice Linda Stewart Dalianis said.

The new Rules of Civil Procedure primarily reorganize the existing rules for civil actions into a more orderly and user-friendly format, but also include a number of significant changes to current practice.

For example, the new rules:

•    Eliminate the distinction between actions at law and cases in equity. As of October 1, 2013, there will be only one form of action, known as a “civil action.” Any action, including actions authorized by law to be initiated by a writ or petition, will be treated as a civil action.

•    Require that a civil action be initiated with the filing of a Complaint (along with an Appearance and the filing fee), rather than a Writ or Petition, and require that a defendant file an Answer to a Complaint.

•    Incorporate the so-called PAD (Proportional Discovery/Automatic Disclosure Pilot Project) Rules that were made applicable to all superior courts effective March 1, 2013. The PAD rules impose fact-based pleading requirements, which are designed to more clearly notify the opposing party and the court of the factual and legal basis of the pleader’s claims, and to better define the issue of fact and law to be adjudicated. In addition, the PAD rules require both the plaintiff and the defendant to make automatic initial disclosures of certain information without the need for a discovery request from the opposing party.

•    No longer require litigants who want to challenge personal jurisdiction or the sufficiency of process or service of process to enter a “special appearance.” Litigants challenging personal jurisdiction or service must still file a motion to dismiss, but under the new rules litigants will not waive these challenges by filing an answer or other pleadings or motions that raise issues aside from personal jurisdiction, sufficiency of process or sufficiency of service of process.

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About the Author

Peter Nicosia
The law firm of Nicosia & Associates, P.C. serves Merrimack Valley businesses, families and individuals for Business Law, Construction Law, Real Estate Law, Condominium Law, Civil Litigation, Estate Planning, Municipal, Law and Personal Injury Law in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including such communities as Lowell MA Chelmsford MA, Tewksbury MA, Methuen MA, Dracut MA, Dunstable MA, Townsend MA, Pepperell MA, Tyngsboro MA, Westford MA, Acton MA, Littleton MA, Concord MA, Carlisle MA, Lawrence MA, Groton MA, Haverhill MA, Andover MA, North Andover MA, Billerica MA, Worcester MA, Burlington MA, Wilmington MA, Nashua NH, Pelham NH, Hudson, NH Salem NH, Manchester NH Middlesex County, Essex County, Suffolk County, Hillsborough County, Merrimack County, Belknap County and Rockingham County, Worcester MA and Boston MA.