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Bar News - October 18, 2013

Court's Corner: Court Adopts New Rules for Alternative Dispute Resolution


As part of its long-awaited adoption of the new Rules of Civil Procedure, the Judicial Branch recently issued new alternative dispute rules for civil cases in New Hampshire Superior Court. Rule 170 is now principally covered by Rule 32 of the Superior Court Rules Applicable to Civil Actions.

A $10 fee placed on new civil filings will fund the Judicial Branch Office of Mediation and Arbitration (OMA), replacing the $50 per-party fee for mediation, which some attorneys and judges had objected to. There also will be no rostering fee to be listed as a mediator on the courtís list of approved neutrals. To qualify as a neutral, training or experience is required, and each neutral on the courtís list must take an annual eight-hour referesher training course, either a court-sponsored training or a course approved by the OMA.

The new alternative dispute resolution (ADR) rules were issued on Sept. 24, along with the other changes related to the implementation of the new civil procedure rules.

Pat Lenz, a superior court administrator, encourages all attorneys practicing in the superior court to acquaint themselves with the new rules which, among other things, add a 30-day deadline for ADR reports to be filed after a mediation. The new rules also say the court may schedule a show-cause hearing, if no report is filed. Also, if a neutral is selected at the structuring conference, the parties have 10 days to contact the neutral.

Rule 32 states that it is not required that the neutral chosen by the parties for a case be selected from the courtís list.

The rule sets out the procedure for conducting ADR, and specifically indicates that mediations can occur at the courthouse, either at the request of a party or by direction of the judge.

The order can be found at the Supreme Court portion of the courtís website, under Orders. All New Hampshire Court rules, including the new rules of civil procedure that went into effect Oct. 1, can be found online.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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