Navigating Bucks County Local Rule of Civil Procedure 208.3(b)

While navigating the local court rules in Bucks County has been described as a daunting task, it turns out the mysterious B.C.R.C.P. 208.3(b) is not so mysterious after all. Indeed, while an Explanatory Comment following the Rule proves helpful, let me break it down for you.  The bottom line is if your application to the Court is subject to this Rule it will not get forwarded to the assigned Judge for disposition until this Rule is complied with.

The Rule itself lists the types of applications to which it applies (such as preliminary objections and motions for summary judgment), and those it does not (such as motions to compel discovery).

Under the Rule, the application must be “at issue and ready for decision” in order for a 208.3(b) Praecipe to be filed.  That means that an actual controversy requiring adjudication is present (i.e. opposition to the application has been filed) and that the time for response has lapsed.  Certain motions, such as motions for judgment on the pleadings are considered at issue by their nature because they present a controversy, so a 208.3(b) Praecipe may be filed when the motion is filed.  To the contrary, although motions for summary judgment are covered by the Rule, they are not at issue when filed, but rather become at issue when opposition is filed creating a controversy and the response period has lapsed.

When filed, the Praecipe must be accompanied by a proposed form of Order, a memorandum of law and a certificate of service.  Once the moving party files the 208.3(b) Praecipe, the respondent must file his responsive brief within 10 days.  Absent a unique or complex legal issue, oral argument is not typically granted but may be requested by the parties.

Two tricks to move along applications subject to this Rule are as follows.  First, if no response is filed to the application by the return date, the lack thereof does not present a controversy so no 208.3(b) Praecipe is necessary.  Rather, the moving party should file a motion to make rule absolute.  Second, if there is a controversy and the moving party fails to file a 208.3(b) Praecipe, the non-moving party can advance the matter forward by sending a notice to the moving party under 208.3(b)(5) that unless the moving party files a 208.3(b) Praecipe, the non-moving party will file a Praecipe to dismiss the application.  Thereafter, the moving party has 10 days to file the 208.3(b) Praecipe, and if they fail to do so, the non-moving party may then Praecipe for dismissal of the application.

— Drafted blog while a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP

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