Bill Text: NH HB349 | 2011 | Regular Session | Introduced

Bill Title: Relative to alternative dispute resolution in civil cases.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Failed) 2011-03-15 - House Inexpedient to Legislate: Motion Adopted Voice Vote; House Journal 26, PG.719 [HB349 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2011-HB349-Introduced.html






AN ACT relative to alternative dispute resolution in civil cases.

SPONSORS: Rep. Kurk, Hills 7

COMMITTEE: Judiciary


This bill mandates alternative dispute resolution in certain civil cases.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven

AN ACT relative to alternative dispute resolution in civil cases.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Subdivision; Alternative Dispute Resolution. Amend RSA 507 by inserting after section 14 the following new subdivision:

Alternative Dispute Resolution

507:14-a Alternative Dispute Resolution Required. Except as provided in paragraphs I and II, the appropriate court shall refer all civil cases filed in any state court in New Hampshire for alternative dispute resolution; provided, however, that in money judgment cases involving $100,000 or less, should alternative dispute resolution be unsuccessful, non-binding arbitration shall be required.

I. In the supreme court the following cases are not eligible for mediation: criminal cases; domestic violence cases; election cases; guardianship cases; involuntary commitment cases; juvenile cases, including abuse and neglect, children in need of services, delinquency, and termination of parental rights cases; cases brought by a prisoner in the custody of a correctional institution; and stalking cases.

II. In the superior court, the following categories of civil and equity actions are not eligible for mediation:

(a) Actions by or against or appeals taken from decisions of the state, counties, or municipalities including their subdivisions, departments, agencies, boards, and agents, except where the action contains a claim for personal injury or monetary damages, unless the parties agree to alternative dispute resolution and the court approves.

(b) Actions where the parties represent by joint motion that they have engaged in formal alternative dispute resolution before a neutral third party prior to suit being filed.

(c) Actions exempted by the court on motion and for good cause, but only when said motion is filed within 180 days of the return date.

507:14-b Court Costs and Counsel Fees. In any money judgment case involving $100,000 or less, a party who indicates to the court that an agreement cannot be reached through non-binding arbitration and who continues the case through the court system shall, should such party have a less advantageous result than in the non-binding arbitration, pay the court costs and counsel fees of the prevailing party.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2012.



Revised 02/07/11


AN ACT relative to alternative dispute resolution in civil cases.


The Judicial Branch states this bill will have an indeterminable fiscal impact on state expenditures in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. There is no fiscal impact on county and local expenditures, or state, county and local revenue.


The Judicial Branch states this bill would add RSA 507:14-a and RSA 507:14-b to make alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mandatory in every civil case filed in any court, except as provided by exemption for the supreme and superior courts. For civil cases with money judgments involving $100,000 or less, if the ADR is unsuccessful the parties are required to participate in non-binding arbitration. If the arbitration is not successful the party taking the matter to court will pay court costs and counsel fees of the opposing party if the party taking the matter to court does not prevail on the merits at trial. The Branch states the mandatory ADR will have a negative impact on the mediation and arbitration fund established by RSA 490-E:4. The fund is used to pay mediators and is funded by surcharges ranging from $5 to $10 on court entry fees while mediators are paid from $60 per small claims case, $175 for a civil writ, or $350 per case in probate court. In mandatory small claims cases the plaintiff pays the mediator fee of $60. The Branch states the bill does not contain a mechanism for collection of payment from users of the program or payment to the mediators or indicate how additional mediation and non-binding arbitration will be paid for. The Branch states to the extent the mandatory ADR results in less cases going to litigation, there may be a decrease in expenditures.