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Within 20 days of the Answer date counsel, or parties if unrepresented, shall
confer to discuss the claims, defenses and counterclaims and to attempt to reach
agreement on the following matters: (1) a statement as to whether or not a jury
trial, if previously demanded, is waived; (2) a proposed date for trial and the
estimated length of trial; (3) dates for the disclosure of expert reports; (4)
status of waiver of RSA 516:29-b requirements; (5) deadlines for the parties to
propound interrogatories; (6) deadlines for the completion of all depositions;
(7) deadlines for the completion of all discovery; (8) deadline for filing all
dispositive motions, which shall not be less than 120 days prior to the trial
date; (9) deadlines for filing all other pre-trial motions, which shall be filed
not later than 14 days prior to trial; (10) the type of alternative dispute
resolution (ADR) procedures that shall be utilized and the deadline for
completion of ADR; and (11) deadline for filing witness and exhibit lists, which
shall not be later than the trial management conference.
the parties reach agreement as to all information required by Rule 5(a) above,
they shall file a completed written stipulation setting forth their agreement on
all of the required matters within the said 20 days. Upon review by the
court, if those stipulations are deemed acceptable, they shall become the case
structuring order of the court.
the parties are unable to reach agreement as to any of the matters set forth in
Rule 5(a), or if the court rejects their proffered stipulations, the matter
shall be scheduled for a telephonic case structuring conference between the
court and counsel, or parties if unrepresented. The case structuring
conference shall be held no later than 75 days after the Answer is filed.
The court may order the parties to appear in court for the hearing if the court
deems this necessary for the efficient progression of the case. Should
counsel, or parties if unrepresented, be unable to reach an acceptable agreement
as to any of the required matters, the court shall issue such orders as it deems
appropriate. The fact that a structuring conference has not yet been held
or a case structuring order has not yet been issued does not preclude any party
from pursuing discovery and does not constitute grounds for any party to fail to
comply with its discovery obligations.
Following the case structuring conference (if one is necessary), the court will
issue a case structuring order.
is similar to former Superior Court Rule 62, but does contain several provisions
to improve former Rule 62. First, like former Superior Court Rule 62 it
contains a “meet and confer” requirement that mandates that, within 20 days
after the Answer date, the parties must confer and attempt to reach agreement on
all important issues regarding scheduling, discovery and the management of the
litigation through the time of the trial. However, unlike former Rule 62,
Rule 5 provides that if the parties are able to reach agreement and execute a
stipulation regarding all such matters, this stipulation shall presumptively
become the case structuring conference order, thus eliminating the need for a
case structuring conference. This change is designed to remedy the
frequently-heard complaint that the practice of routinely holding structuring
conferences requiring the personal appearance of counsel, or parties if
unrepresented, in every case is expensive and unproductive. In addition,
Rule 5 also provides that even where the parties are unable to reach agreement
on all issues or where the court finds the agreement unacceptable, the
structuring conference will be held telephonically unless the court specifically
orders that counsel and/or the parties appear in court for the conference.
This aspect of the new rule reverses the practice under which structuring
conferences are held at the courthouse unless a party or counsel files a motion
requesting that he or she appear telephonically. Again, the purpose of the
change is to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Section (c) of
this rule also changes former Rule 62 in two other significant ways.
First, it changes the date for holding the structuring conference from 45 days
after the return date, as provided in former Rule 62. Under Rule 5, the
structuring conference must be held within 75 days after the Answer is filed.
Given the automatic disclosure requirements established by Rule 22, 75 days
after the Answer will give the parties time to digest the disclosures made
pursuant to Rule 22 and to formulate reasoned positions in cases where they have
been unable to reach agreement on all pretrial management issues. This
time limit also is realistic in light of superior court resource limitations.
The second significant change accomplished by section (c) of Rule 5 is the
provision stating that discovery can be initiated before the structuring
conference is held and before a structuring conference order has been issued and
that a responding party is required to comply with its discovery obligations
notwithstanding the fact that a structuring order has not yet been issued.
This provision is intended to address the complaint often heard from lawyers
that court scheduling issues which result in delay in holding a structuring
conference are used as an excuse to delay responding to entirely legitimate
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