1:4-8. Frivolous Litigation
(a) Effect of Signing, Filing or Advocating a Paper. The signature of an attorney or pro se party constitutes a certificate that the signatory has read the pleading, written motion or other paper. By signing, filing or advocating a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or pro se party certifies that to the best of his or her knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:
(1) the paper is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a non-frivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law;
(3) the factual allegations have evidentiary support or, as to specifically identified allegations, they are either likely to have evidentiary support or they will be withdrawn or corrected if reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery indicates insufficient evidentiary support; and
(4) the denials of factual allegations are warranted on the evidence or, as to specifically identified denials, they are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief or they will be withdrawn or corrected if a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery indicates insufficient evidentiary support.
If the pleading, written motion or other paper is not signed or is signed with intent to defeat the purpose of this rule, it may be stricken and the action may proceed as though the document had not been served. Any adverse party may also seek sanctions in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (b) of this rule.
(b) Motions for Sanctions.
(1) Contents of Motion, Certification. An application for sanctions under this rule shall be by motion made separately from other applications and shall describe the specific conduct alleged to have violated this rule. No such motion shall be filed unless it includes a certification that the applicant served written notice and demand pursuant to R. 1:5-2 to the attorney or pro se party who signed or filed the paper objected to. The certification shall have annexed a copy of that notice and demand, which shall (i) state that the paper is believed to violate the provisions of this rule, (ii) set forth the basis for that belief with specificity, (iii) include a demand that the paper be withdrawn, and (iv) give notice, except as otherwise provided herein, that an application for sanctions will be made within a reasonable time thereafter if the offending paper is not withdrawn within 28 days of service of the written demand. If, however, the subject of the application for sanctions is a motion whose return date precedes the expiration of the 28-day period, the demand shall give the movant the option of either consenting to an adjournment of the return date or waiving the balance of the 28-day period then remaining. A movant who doesnot request an adjournment of the return date as provided herein shall be deemed to have elected the waiver. The certification shall also certify that the paper objected to has not been withdrawn or corrected within the appropriate time period provided herein following service of the written notice and demand.
No motion shall be filed if the paper objected to has been withdrawn or corrected within 28 days of service of the notice and demand or within such other time period as provided herein.
(2) Time for Filing; Attorney's Fees. A motion for sanctions shall be filed with the court no later than 20 days following the entry of final judgment. If warranted, the court may award to the party prevailing on the motion the reasonable expenses and attorneys' fees incurred in presenting or opposing the motion. For purposes of this rule, the term "final judgment" shall include any order deciding a post-judgment motion whether or not that order is directly appealable.
(3) Scope of Responsibility. Except in extraordinary circumstances, a law firm shall be jointly responsible for violations committed by its partners, shareholders, associates and employees.
(c) Sanction on Court's Initiative. On its own initiative, the court may enter an order describing the specific conduct that appears to violate this rule and directing the attorney or pro se party to show cause why he or she has not violated the rule. The order to show cause shall issue before a voluntary dismissal or settlement of the claims made by or against the pro se party or the attorney who is the subject of the order to show cause.
(d) Order for Sanctions. A sanction imposed for violation of paragraph (a) of this rule shall be limited to a sum sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct. The sanction may consist of (1) an order to pay a penalty into court, or (2) an order directing payment to the movant of some or all of the reasonable attorneys' fees and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation, or both. Among the factors to be considered by the court in imposing a sanction under (2) is the timeliness of the movant's filing of the motion therefor. In the order imposing sanctions, the court shall describe the conduct determined to be a violation of this rule and explain the basis for the sanction imposed.
(e) Exceptions. This rule does not apply to disclosures and discovery requests, responses, objections, and discovery motions that are subject to the provisions of R. 4:23.
(f) Applicability to Parties. To the extent practicable, the procedures prescribed by this rule shall apply to the assertion of costs and fees against a party other than a pro se party pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:15-59.1.