RULE 11. SIGNING OF PLEADINGS, MOTIONS AND OTHER PAPERS; REPRESENTATION TO COURT; SANCTIONS
(a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's name or by a party personally if the party is self-represented. The paper must state the signer's address, electronic mail address for electronic service, and telephone number. If the signer is an attorney, the paper must contain the attorney's State Board of Law Examiners identification number. Unless a rule or statute specifically states otherwise, a pleading need not be verified or accompanied by an affidavit. The court must strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is promptly corrected after being called to the attorney's or party's attention.
(b) Representations to the court. By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper, whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it, an attorney or self-represented party certifies that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law;
(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and
(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information.
(1) In general. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated, the court may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that violated the rule or is responsible for the violation. Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm must be held jointly responsible for a violation committed by its partner, associate, or employee.
(2) Motion for sanctions. A motion for sanctions must be made separately from any other motion and must describe the specific conduct that allegedly violates Rule 11(b). The motion, brief, and other supporting papers must be served under Rule 5, but must not be filed or be presented to the court if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within 21 days after service or within another time the court sets. The respondent must have 10 days after a motion for sanctions is filed to serve and file and answer brief and other supporting papers. If warranted, the court may award to the prevailing party the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, incurred for the motion.
(3) On the court's initiative. On its own, the court may order an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why conduct specifically described in the order has not violated Rule 11(b).
(4) Nature of a sanction. A sanction imposed under this rule must be limited to what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. The sanction may include nonmonetary directives; an order to pay a penalty into court; or, if imposed on motion and warranted for effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant of part or all of the reasonable attorney's fees and other expenses directly resulting from the violation.
(5) Limitations on monetary sanctions. The court must not impose a monetary sanction:
(A) against a represented party for violating Rule 11(b)(2); or
(B) on its own, unless it issued the show-cause order under Rule 11(c)(3) before voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or against the party that is, or whose attorneys are, to be sanctioned.
(6) Requirements for an order. An order imposing a sanction must describe the sanctioned conduct and explain the basis for the sanction.
(d) Inapplicability to discovery. This rule does not apply to disclosures and discovery requests, responses, objections, and motions under Rules 26 through 37.
(e) Limited representation.
(1) Notice. An attorney who assists an otherwise self-represented party on a limited basis must serve a notice of limited representation on each party involved in the matter. The notice must state precisely the scope of the limited representation. An attorney who seeks to act beyond the stated scope of the limited representation must serve an amended notice of limited representation. The attorney must also serve a notice of termination of limited representation on each party involved in the matter.
(2) Filing. If the action is filed, the party who received assistance of an attorney on a limited basis must file the notice of limited representation with the court.
(3) Scope of rule. The requirements of this rule apply to every pleading, written motion and other paper signed by an attorney acting within the scope of a limited representation.
Rule 11 was amended, effective March 1, 1986; March 1, 1990; March 1, 1996; March 1, 1997; August 1, 2001; March 1, 2009; March 1, 2011; March 1, 2014.
Rule 11 governs to the extent Rule 11 and N.D.R.Ct. 3.2, conflict.
Rule 11 was revised, effective March 1, 1996, in response to the 1993 revision of Fed.R.Civ.P. 11. North Dakota's rule differs from the federal rule in the following respects: 1) North Dakota's rule requires attorneys to cite their State Board of Law Examiners identification number when signing papers; and 2) North Dakota's rule does not require allegations or denials to be specifically identified when immediate evidentiary support is lacking.
Subdivision (a) was amended, effective March 1, 2014, to specify that the e-mail address required in documents signed by an attorney or party is the signer's e-mail address for electronic service.
Subdivision (e) was added, effective March 1, 2009, to permit an attorney to file a notice of limited representation indicating an intent to represent a party for one or more matters in a case, but not for all matters. An attorney must also serve a notice of termination of limited representation when the attorney's involvement ends. Rule 5, Rule 11 and N.D.R.Ct. 11.2, were amended to permit attorneys to assist an otherwise self-represented party on a limited basis without undertaking full representation of the party. Under N.D.R. Prof. Conduct 1.2(c) a lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if a client consents after consultation.
Rule 11 was amended, effective March 1, 2011, in response to the December 1, 2007, revision of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules.
Sources: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of April 25-26, 2013, page 16; September 24-25, 2009, pages 13-14; January 24, 2008, pages 2-7; October 11-12, 2007, pages 20-26; September 28-29, 1995, pages 2-3; April 27-28, 1995, pages 3-4; January 26-27, 1995, pages 8-10; September 29-30, 1994, pages 24-26; April 20, 1989, page 2; December 3, 1987, page 11; April 26, 1984, pages 25-26; January 20, 1984, pages 16-18; September 20-21, 1979, page 7; Fed.R.Civ.P. 11.
Cross Reference: N.D.R.Civ.P. 5 (Service and Filing of Pleadings and Other Papers); N.D.R.Crt. 11.1 (Nonresident Attorneys), N.D.R.Ct.11.2 (Withdrawal of Attorneys); N.D.R.Prof. Conduct 1.2 (Scope of Representation); N.D.C.C. §§ 28-26-01 (Attorney's Fees by Agreement -- Exceptions -- Awarding Costs and Attorney's Fees to Prevailing Party), and 28-26-31 (Pleadings Not Made in Good Faith).