(603) 473-4694 info@fojolaw.com

How to Protest and Dispute Government Contract Awards

Protesting and disputing government contract awards can appear intimidating at first glance. If you are a business that either has a contract with the state or federal government, a state or federal agency, or a municipality, or has pursued obtaining a government contract with any of those entities, you have probably been involved in a public bidding (or government procurement) process. This process is where the government issues a request for proposals or request for quotes (otherwise known as an “RFP” or “RFQ”), and then you, the business, submit a proposal for the services or products being requested. What happens if your business submitted a proposal for the contract, but the government declined to award the contract to you, and you believe the process was unfair? For example, a vendor that should have been disqualified wasn’t, or another vendor forgot to submit a critical portion of the proposal, or the government awarded the contract to a vendor whose proposal was not scored properly or whose proposal was more expensive than yours. Fortunately, despite the fact that the party on the other side of this equation is the government, you can protest and dispute government contract awards. In any of the situations above, the government likely violated competitive bidding standards. Here is a simple step-by-step process for protesting and disputing government contract awards: What are Competitive Bidding Standards?   Regardless whether the government contract that was awarded was a state contract or a federal contract, a public bidding process administrated by the government usually must comply with certain standards. These standards are known as “competitive bidding standards” or “public procurement...

12 Reasons Businesses Should Use Arbitration Agreements

Last year, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed its view that arbitration agreements are valid contracts and must be “rigorously enforced.” This decision means businesses can better manage their legal risk by requiring their employees and customers to enter into arbitration agreements. In this article, I briefly outline the existing law on arbitration agreements, and then I identify and explain 12 reasons why businesses should use them. Download a FREE Guide That Reveals The 10 Things Every Business Needs To Know About Business Law The Law on Arbitration Agreements In April 2011, the United States Supreme Court upheld an arbitration agreement (that included a waiver of the right to pursue a class action) in AT&T’s consumer agreements. In a case called AT&T Mobility, LLC v. Concepcion, the plaintiff filed a class action against AT&T. The case made its way up to the Supreme Court. The Court concluded the plaintiff had to proceed to individual arbitration pursuant to the requirement and waiver in the arbitration agreement. The Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) not only favors arbitration, but also disfavors class action proceedings. The Court relied on the FAA and stated that “requiring the availability of classwide arbitration interferes with the fundamental attributes of arbitration and thus creates a scheme inconsistent with the FAA.” Last year, in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, the Supreme Court confirmed what it stated in the Concepcion case. The Court made it clear that, because “arbitration is a matter of contract,” its terms must be “rigorously enforced by courts.” The plaintiffs in that case disputed a rate American Express charged merchants...

How to Respond to a Third-Party Subpoena for Documents

In litigation, a party will often use a third-party subpoena to obtain documents from individuals, businesses, or other entities that are not parties to the lawsuit. Many individuals and businesses have received a third-party subpoena and wondered whether they should respond, how to respond, what, if any concerns they should have, and what, if any, precautions they should take. The following guidelines and steps explain how to approach responding to a third-party subpoena for documents, and highlight issues you should consider when responding. (In a future article, I will address some additional considerations for responding to a third-party subpoena for testimony.) 1. Initial Steps to Take When You are Served with a Third-Party Subpoena for Documents When you are served with a third-party subpoena for documents, there are several critical steps you should take to ensure you will comply with the subpoena and its corresponding requirements. a. Consider Engaging an Attorney If you are a business and do not have an in-house legal department, or if you are an individual and do not have an attorney, you should consider engaging an attorney. An attorney will help guide you through the process, including many of the items and steps in this article. For instance, an attorney would be helpful if the subpoena requests a large number of documents. An attorney will also help you understand whether you have any legal exposure you should worry about. It is not uncommon for a party in litigation to use the subpoena process to obtain information regarding a non-party for purposes of determining whether it should file a lawsuit against that non-party. There is...

How to Navigate the New Hampshire Tax Abatement Process

New Hampshire’s heavy reliance on property taxes – which are among the highest in the United States – often produces significant tension with respect to the New Hampshire tax abatement process. Every year, residential and commercial property taxpayers file tax abatements in the hopes that they can reduce their property tax burdens. Not surprisingly, municipalities will typically find reasons to deny tax abatement applications or ignore them altogether. The New Hampshire tax abatement process is a very mechanical procedure with specific requirements and deadlines. It can be complex and confusing. These difficulties often dissuade many taxpayers from submitting a tax abatement application altogether. Those who do submit an abatement application without the assistance of an attorney often receive denials and do not know or understand the basis for the denial or how to address or challenge it. Taxpayers can, however, take advantage of this annual opportunity to reduce their tax burden. To do so, they must gain an understanding of how the New Hampshire tax abatement process works, how to determine if a property is over-assessed, how to address an over-assessment, and what to do if the municipality denies an abatement application.  The following information will hopefully simplify the New Hampshire tax abatement process and help taxpayers navigate its many twists and turns. Overview of the New Hampshire Tax Abatement Process Under New Hampshire law (RSA 76:16), municipalities may abate property taxes and interest accrued on such taxes “for good cause shown.” “Good cause” can be established by showing an error in the assessment value of the property, a disproportionate assessment, or other grounds (such as poverty or an inability...

New Rules Modernize New Hampshire Civil Procedure

New Hampshire’s Proportional and Automatic Discovery Rules (the “NH PAD Rules”) went into effect for civil and equity cases on March 1, 2013. The NH PAD Rules have been in effect as a pilot program in Carroll and Strafford counties since October 1, 2010, and in Hillsborough County since October 1, 2012. The following summarizes the most significant changes to New Hampshire civil procedure from these new rules. If you are involved in litigation in New Hampshire, you and your attorney should be aware of these rules and the strict requirements they impose. Brief Overview of the NH PAD Rules All New Hampshire Superior Court rules that do not directly contradict the NH PAD rules will remain in effect. The Superior Court rules that do contradict the NH PAD rules will eventually be amended. Some are exempt from the NH PAD rules, including notice of bond claims, petitions for the return of property, petitions to confirm an arbitration award, zoning board appeals, and planning board appeals. Exempt cases will continue to follow the traditional Superior Court Rules. A full list of exempt cases may be found here. The NH PAD Rules – The Biggest Changes The following is a list of the biggest changes imposed by the NH PAD Rules. 1) A Complaint, Not a Writ of Summons (NH PAD Rule 1) The NH PAD rules abolish the Writ of Summons and replace it with a complaint and answer consistent with the federal pleadings system. The complaint must set forth a “claim for relief,” including a statement of the material facts, a showing of entitlement to relief, and a demand for judgment for the type...