The Public Protection Fund has been established, in the words of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, at Rule 55, “. . . to provide a public service and to promote confidence in the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession by providing some measure of reimbursement to victims who have lost money or property. . .” because of theft or misappropriation by a New Hampshire attorney, and occurring in New Hampshire during the course of a client-attorney or fiduciary relationship between the attorney and you. The Fund is administered by the New Hampshire Bar Association, through a nine-member committee, under the general oversight of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. The Fund is funded by annual contributions made by attorneys who are members of the New Hampshire Bar Association.
Not all losses are compensable by the Fund. A loss must have occurred while the attorney was providing legal services or while the attorney was serving in what is known as a fiduciary capacity, such as a trustee, guardian, conservator, etc. The theft or misappropriation needs to have been of money or other property with a monetary value that can be determined. The theft or misappropriation must have occurred after June 1, 1998.
In order to be considered for reimbursement, a claim must be submitted to the Public Protection Fund within three (3) years of the time when you discovered, or first reasonably should have discovered, the theft or other misappropriation, and the losses which you suffered because of the theft. In no event may the claim be filed more than one (1) year after the attorney who caused the loss has been suspended or disbarred from the practice of law, or has died or has been judged mentally incompetent.
The Fund was created as a last resort from which a victim might obtain some measure of relief. Payment can only be made, therefore, after exhaustion of reimbursements from all other sources. You have not exhausted all other sources of reimbursement unless you demonstrate that you have made reasonable efforts to collect from the assets, insurance and sureties of the attorney who caused your loss, and that attorneys law firm, as well as from any other third parties who might be liable to you (for example, banks). You may meet this burden by demonstrating, for example, that you were unable to retain an attorney on a contingency fee basis to pursue your claims against the attorney, the attorneys law firm, and any third parties who might be liable.
If you believe you qualify for reimbursement by the Public Protection Fund, you should promptly complete a “Statement of Claim” form and file it with the New Hampshire Bar Association, 2 Pillsbury Street, Suite 300, Concord, NH 03301, Attn: Public Protection Fund Committee. Note that there is a time deadline for filing such a claim. Therefore, even if you have not yet exhausted all other potential sources for reimbursement, you should file your claim with the Committee and indicate on the Statement of Claim form that you are still pursuing other remedies. It is only when the Committee receives notice of your claim that the time limit for filing the claim stops running. If the Committee does not receive notice of your claim before the time limit for filing such a claim, the Committee will not consider your claim.
Once your Statement of Claim form has been filed with the Committee, it will decide (after a hearing, if requested) whether you are eligible to receive some amount of reimbursement for your claimed loss. The Committee will provide you with a written decision, together with such explanation as the Committee deems appropriate.
You should review New Hampshire Supreme Court Rule 55, and the regulations of the Public Protection Fund Committee. They are attached for your convenience. Note that this overview is intended to assist you in filing your claim. If the language of this overview appears to conflict with the language of Rule 55, the language of Rule 55 controls.
For further information call 603-715-3289.