Browse Previous PageTable of ContentsBrowse Next Page


Supreme Court Rules Table of Contents

RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

ADMINISTRATIVE RULES 35 TO 61

Rule 50-A. Certification Requirement.

(1) In order to assure compliance with the requirements of Rule 50 and in order to ascertain that the records and accounts described in Rule 50 are properly maintained, all attorneys and foreign legal consultants licensed to practice in the State of New Hampshire, whether in private practice or not, other than those in inactive status, shall individually or through their firm organizations file an annual Trust Accounting Certificate of Compliance on or before August 1st of each year.  For purposes of this rule, an attorney shall not be considered to be "in inactive status" if the attorney's New Hampshire Bar Association membership status was active at any time during the one-year period beginning on June 1 of the year preceding the reporting year and ending on May 31 of the reporting year.  The Trust Accounting Certificate of Compliance shall certify to one of two things:

    A. That the attorney or foreign legal consultant does not maintain a trust account and does not possess any assets or funds of clients; or

   
         B. That client funds maintained by the attorney or foreign legal consultant are held in accounts in full compliance with the requirements of Rule 50.

A prescribed Trust Accounting Certificate of Compliance form will be sent to the attorney or foreign legal consultant annually by the New Hampshire Bar Association with the attorney's annual dues and court fees assessments or foreign legal consultant's annual dues and court fees assessments. The self-certification may be completed by the attorney or foreign legal consultant or by a private accountant employed for this purpose by the attorney or foreign legal consultant. The completed Trust Accounting Certificate of Compliance forms shall be filed with the New Hampshire Supreme Court by delivery to the New Hampshire Bar Association by August 1st of each year. The self-certification procedure shall be supplemented by annual compliance checks by an accountant selected by the Supreme Court. The accountant's purpose in conducting a compliance check will be to determine whether the minimum standards set forth in Rule 50 are being maintained. All information obtained by the accountant shall remain confidential except for purposes of transmitting notice of violations to the Professional Conduct Committee or the Supreme Court. The information derived from such compliance checks shall not be disclosed by anyone in such a way as to violate the attorney-client privilege except by express order from the Supreme Court. The certification requirements of this rule shall not apply to any full-time judge, full-time marital master, or full-time supreme, superior, and district court clerk or deputy clerk, except that the certification requirement shall apply where such judge, marital master, clerk, or deputy clerk was in the active practice of law at any time during the twelve (12) months immediately preceding August 1st of any year.


         (2)  An attorney or foreign legal consultant who fails to comply with the requirements of Rule 50 with respect to the maintenance, availability, and preservation of accounts and records, who fails to file the required annual Trust Accounting Certificate of Compliance, or who fails to produce trust account records as required shall be deemed to be in violation of Rule 1.15 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the applicable Supreme Court Rule. Unless upon petition to the Supreme Court an extension has been granted, failure to file the required annual Trust Accounting Certificate of Compliance by August 1st shall, in addition, subject the attorney or foreign legal consultant to one or more of the following penalties and procedures:

              A. A fine of $100 for each month or fraction thereof after August 1st in which the Trust Accounting Certificate of Compliance remains unfiled; in addition, an attorney or foreign legal consultant who has been fined $300 or more under this section may be suspended from the practice of law in this State;

              B. Audit of the attorney's or foreign legal consultant's trust accounts and other financial records at the expense of the attorney or foreign legal consultant, if the certificate remains unfiled on December 1st; and

              C. Based upon results of the audit, initiation of proceedings for further sanctions, including suspension.

            Any check, draft or money order received as payment of any fine imposed pursuant to this rule, which is returned to the court as uncollectable, shall be returned to the sender and shall not constitute payment of the fine.  Whenever any check, draft or money order issued in payment of any fine imposed pursuant to this rule is returned to the court as uncollectable, the court shall charge a fee of $25, plus all protest and financial institution fees, in addition to the amount of the check, draft or money order to the person presenting the check, draft or money order to cover the costs of collection.  The fine shall not be considered paid until the fine plus all fees have been paid. 

            Reinstatement following a suspension ordered pursuant to Rule 50-A(2)(A) above shall be only by order of the Supreme Court, upon petition to the court following the filing of the Trust Accounting Certificate of Compliance and payment of the fine.  If the petition is filed more than one year after the date of the order suspending the person from the practice of law in this State, then the petition shall be accompanied by evidence of continuing competence and learning in the law, and evidence of continuing moral character and fitness. If the evidence of continuing competence and learning in the law, and evidence of continuing moral character and fitness, are satisfactory to the court, the court may order reinstatement upon such conditions as it deems appropriate. 

          If the evidence of continuing competence and learning in the law is not satisfactory to the court, the court shall refer the motion for reinstatement to the Professional Conduct Committee for referral to a panel of the hearings committee. The hearing panel shall promptly schedule a hearing at which the attorney shall have the burden of demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she has the competency and learning in law required for reinstatement. At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing panel shall promptly file a report containing its findings and recommendations and transmit same, together with the record, to the Professional Conduct Committee. The Professional Conduct Committee shall review the report of the hearings committee panel, the record and the hearing transcript and shall file its own recommendations and findings, together with the record, with the court. Following the submission of briefs, if necessary, and oral argument, if any, the court shall enter a final order.

          If the evidence of continuing moral character and fitness is not satisfactory to the court, the court shall order the applicant to file with the committee on character and fitness and with the clerk of the supreme court the petition and questionnaire referred to in Supreme Court Rule 42(5)(e). Further proceedings shall be governed by Rule 42.

        (3) Except for requirements of Rule 50, subparagraph (2)A, requiring the inclusion of probate accounts in the index of trust accounts, the provisions of Rule 50, paragraph (2), and of this Rule 50-A shall not apply to probate accounts (including estate, testamentary trusts, guardian, and conservator accounts).

        (4) The Supreme Court may at any time order an audit of such financial records or trust accounts of an attorney or foreign legal consultant, and take such other action as it deems necessary to protect the public.

Browse Previous PageTable of ContentsBrowse Next Page


Supreme Court Rules Table of Contents