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Bar News - June 21, 2013

Opinion: New Superior Court Civil Rules Will Be Easy to Navigate


David Slawsky
Attorney Slawsky, as chair of the NHBA Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, was a principal drafter of the new civil procedural rules the court has adopted. In the May issue of Bar News, Slawsky detailed the background of their development.

Sitting in front of me is a final draft of the new Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure. (The order was issued May 22, 2013.) These will take effect on Oct. 1. Here are some basic questions, along with a few answers.

1. Why? The time has long since passed for our courts to get beyond the writ system. And as our rules have developed, topsy-turvy, since 1901, when the Legislature created the superior courts, each new rule, regardless of its subject, has been assigned an available number. Locating a rule can be a challenge. It won’t take a GPS to find the appropriate direction in the logically-organized new rules.

2. What are they not? They are not the federal rules.

3. How much work will it take you to figure this out? Not much. What you will find is that the substance of the rules is largely unchanged. The new rules accomplish two things.

First, the outdated rules are eliminated. For example, Rule 34, called Scire Facias, is in the current set of rules. The rule reads this way: “Repealed, effective June 1, 1982.” The rule will remain repealed, but we could not think of a good reason to continue reminding people. It’s gone. Another example: Rule 167 provides guidance to superior court judges reviewing lump-sum settlements in workers’ compensation cases. But, superior court judges have been out of the business of reviewing lump-sum settlements since the Compensation Appeals Board was created in 1990. No need to retain that one, either.

Second, we’ve “shuffled the deck” to organize the remaining rules in a way that will allow us to find what we need when we need it.

4. What do they look like? There are a total of 54 rules, divided into 10 sections:

I. General Principles
II. Commencement of Action
III. Pleadings and Motions
IV. Parties and their Representatives
V. Discovery
VI. Alternatives to Trial
VII. Trials
VIII. Judgment
IX. Provisional and Final Remedies
X. Special Proceedings

5. What about the PAD rules? Don’t worry... the PAD rules have been incorporated.

6. How do I get myself ready? Attend the upcoming NHBA·CLE program, Superior Court Civil Practice: The New Rules & More, set for Sept. 25. Learn more.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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