RULE 10-7.1 PROCEEDINGS FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
10 RULES GOVERNING THE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF THE UNLICENSED PRACTICE OF LAW
10-7 PROCEEDINGS BEFORE A REFEREE
RULE 10-7.1 PROCEEDINGS FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
(a) Filing Complaints. Complaints for civil injunctive relief shall be by petition filed in the Supreme Court of Florida by The Florida Bar in its name.
(b) Petitions for Injunctive Relief. Each such petition shall be processed in the Supreme Court of Florida in accordance with the following procedure:
- (1) The petition shall not be framed in technical language but shall with reasonable clarity set forth the facts constituting the unlicensed practice of law. A demand for relief may be included in the petition but shall not be required.
(2) The court, upon consideration of any petition so filed, may issue its order to show cause directed to the respondent commanding the respondent to show cause, if there be any, why the respondent should not be enjoined from the unlicensed practice of law alleged, and further requiring the respondent to file with the court and serve upon UPL staff counsel within 20 days after service on the respondent of the petition and order to show cause a written answer admitting or denying each of the matters set forth in the petition. The legal sufficiency of the petition may, at the option of the respondent, be raised by motion to dismiss filed prior to or at the time of the filing of the answer. The filing of a motion to dismiss prior to the filing of an answer shall postpone the time for the filing of an answer until 10 days after disposition of the motion. The order and petition shall be served upon the respondent in the manner provided for service of process by Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.070(b). Service of all other pleadings shall be governed by the provisions of Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.080.
(3) Any party may request oral argument upon any question of law raised by the initial pleadings. The court may, in its discretion, set the matter for oral argument upon the next convenient motion day or at such time as it deems appropriate.
(4) If no response or defense is filed within the time permitted, the allegations of the petition shall be taken as true for purposes of that action. The court will then, upon its motion or upon motion of any party, decide the case upon its merits, granting such relief and issuing such order as might be appropriate; or it may refer the petition for further proceedings according to rule 10-7.1(b)(6).
(5) If a response or defense filed by a respondent raises no issue of material fact, any party, upon motion, may request summary judgment and the court may rule thereon as a matter of law.
(6) The court may, upon its motion or upon motion of any party, enter a judgment on the pleadings or refer questions of fact to a referee for determination.
(c) Proceedings Before the Referee. Proceedings before the referee shall be in accordance with the following:
- (1) The proceedings shall be held in the county where the respondent resides or where the alleged offense was committed, whichever shall be designated by the court.
(2) Within 60 days of the order assigning the case to the referee, the referee shall conduct a case management conference. The purpose of the conference is to set a schedule for the proceedings, including discovery deadlines and a final hearing date. The referee shall enter a written order in the proceedings reflecting the schedule determined at the conference and, if civil penalties are requested, containing a notice to the respondent regarding the respondent’s burden to show an inability to pay a civil penalty as set forth elsewhere in these rules.
(3) Subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of documentary evidence shall be issued in the name of the court by the referee upon request of a party. Failure or refusal to comply with any subpoena shall be contempt of court and may be punished by the court or by any circuit court where the action is pending or where the contemnor may be found, as if said refusal were a contempt of that court.
(4) The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, including those provisions pertaining to discovery, not inconsistent with these rules shall apply in injunctive proceedings before the referee. The powers and jurisdiction generally reposed in the court under those rules may in this action be exercised by the referee. The Florida Bar may in every case amend its petition 1 time as of right, within 60 days after the filing of the order referring the matter to a referee.
(5) Review of interlocutory rulings of the referee may be had by petition to the court filed within 30 days after entry of the ruling complained of. A supporting brief or memorandum of law and a transcript containing conformed copies of pertinent portions of the record in the form of an appendix shall be filed with the court by a party seeking such review. Any opposing party may file a responsive brief or memorandum of law and appendix containing any additional portions of the record deemed pertinent to the issues raised within 10 days thereafter. The petitioner may file a reply brief or memorandum of law within 5 days of the date of service of the opposing party’s responsive brief or memorandum of law. Any party may request oral argument at the time that party’s brief or memorandum of law is filed or due. Interlocutory review hereunder shall not stay the cause before the referee unless the referee or the court on its motion or on motion of any party shall so order.
(d) Referee’s Report.
- (1) Generally. At the conclusion of the hearing, the referee shall file a written report with the court stating findings of fact, conclusions of law, a statement of costs incurred and recommendations as to the manner in which costs should be taxed as provided elsewhere in this chapter, and a recommendation for final disposition of the cause which may include the imposition of a civil penalty not to exceed $1000 per incident and a recommendation for restitution as provided elsewhere in this chapter. The original record shall be filed with the report. Copies of the referee’s report shall be served upon all parties by the referee at the time it is filed with the court.
(2) Costs. The referee shall have discretion to recommend the assessment of costs. Taxable costs of the proceeding shall include only:
- (A) investigative costs;
(B) court reporters’ fees;
(C) copy costs;
(D) telephone charges;
(E) fees for translation services;
(F) witness expenses, including travel and out-of-pocket expenses;
(G) travel and out-of-pocket expenses of the referee;
(H) travel and out-of-pocket expenses of counsel in the proceedings, including those of the respondent if acting as counsel; and
(I) any other costs which may properly be taxed in civil litigation.
- (3) Restitution. The referee shall have discretion to recommend that the respondent be ordered to pay restitution. In such instances, the amount of restitution shall be specifically set forth in the referee’s report and shall not exceed the amount paid to respondent by complainant(s). The referee’s report shall also state the name(s) of the complainant(s) to whom restitution is to be made, the amount of restitution to be made, and the date by which it shall be completed. The referee shall have discretion over the timing of payments and over how those payments are to be distributed to multiple complainants. In determining the amount of restitution to be paid to complainant(s), the referee shall consider testimony and/or any documentary evidence that shows the amount paid to respondent by complainant(s) including:
- (A) cancelled checks;
(B) credit card receipts;
(C) receipts from respondent; and
(D) any other documentation evidencing the amount of payment.
- The referee shall also have discretion to recommend that restitution shall bear interest at the legal rate provided for judgments in this state. Nothing in this section shall preclude an individual from seeking redress through civil proceedings to recover fees or other damages.
- (4) Civil Penalty. Except in cases where the parties have entered into a stipulated injunction, prior to recommending the imposition of a civil penalty, the referee shall determine whether the respondent has the ability to pay the penalty. The respondent has the burden to show the inability to pay a penalty. A respondent asserting an inability to pay shall file with the referee a completed affidavit containing the statutory financial information required to be submitted to the clerk of court when determining indigent status and stating that the affidavit is signed under oath and under penalty of perjury. In making a determination of whether the respondent has the ability to pay a penalty, the referee shall consider the applicable statutory criteria used by the clerk of court when determining indigent status and the applicable statutory factors considered by a court when reviewing that determination. If the referee finds that the respondent does not have the ability to pay a penalty, this shall be stated in the referee's report along with a recitation of the evidence upon which the referee made this finding. If the referee finds that the respondent does have the ability to pay a penalty, this shall be stated in the referee's report along with a recitation of the evidence upon which the referee made this finding.
(5) Stipulated Injunction. Should the parties enter into a stipulated injunction prior to the hearing, the stipulation shall be filed with the referee. The referee may approve the stipulation or reject the stipulation and schedule a hearing as provided elsewhere in these rules. If accepted, the stipulation and original record shall then be filed with the court for final approval of the stipulation and entry of an injunction. A written report as described in rule 10-7.1(d)(1) shall be filed by the referee along with the stipulation. The respondent may agree to pay restitution in the stipulation. In such instances the amount of restitution, to whom it shall be made, how payments are to be made, the date by which it shall be completed, and whether interest as provided elsewhere in this chapter will be paid, shall be specifically set forth in the stipulation.
(6) Timing of Payment. Should the referee recommend the imposition of restitution, costs, or a civil penalty, the respondent shall pay the award in the following order: restitution, costs, civil penalty.
- (1) Contents. The record shall include all items properly filed in the cause including pleadings, recorded testimony, if transcribed, exhibits in evidence, and the report of the referee.
(2) Preparation and Filing. The referee, with the assistance of bar counsel, shall prepare the record, certify that the record is complete, serve a copy of the index of the record on the respondent and The Florida Bar, and file the record with the office of the clerk of the Supreme Court of Florida.
(3) Supplementing or Removing Items from the Record. The respondent and The Florida Bar may seek to supplement the record or have items removed from the record by filing a motion with the referee for such purpose, provided such motion is filed within 15 days of the service of the index. Denial of a motion to supplement the record or to remove an item from the record may be reviewed in the same manner as provided for in the rule on appellate review under these rules.
(f) Review by the Supreme Court of Florida.
- (1) Objections to the report of the referee shall be filed with the court by any party aggrieved, within 30 days after the filing of the report, or in the case where a party seeks review of a referee’s denial to supplement or remove an item from the record, within 30 days after the court issues its ruling on that matter. Denial of a motion to supplement the record or to remove an item from the record may be reviewed in the same manner as provided for in the rule on appellate review under these rules.
If the objector desires, a brief or memorandum of law in support of the objections may be filed at the time the objections are filed. Any other party may file a responsive brief or memorandum of law within 20 days of service of the objector’s brief or memorandum of law. The objector may file a reply brief or memorandum of law within 20 days of service of the opposing party’s responsive brief or memorandum of law. Oral argument will be allowed at the court’s discretion and will be governed by the provisions of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.
(2) Upon the expiration of the time to file objections to the referee's report, the court shall review the report of the referee, together with any briefs or memoranda of law or objections filed in support of or opposition to such report. After review, the court shall determine as a matter of law whether the respondent has engaged in the unlicensed practice of law, whether the respondent's activities should be enjoined by appropriate order, whether costs should be awarded, whether restitution should be ordered, whether civil penalties should be awarded, and whether further relief shall be granted. Any order of the court that contains the imposition of restitution or civil penalties shall contain a requirement that the respondent send the restitution or penalty to the UPL Department of The Florida Bar. The restitution shall be made payable to the complainant(s) specified in the court’s order. The Florida Bar shall remit all restitution received to the complainant(s). If The Florida Bar cannot locate the complainant(s) within 4 months, the restitution shall be returned to the respondent. The civil penalty shall be made payable to the Supreme Court of Florida. The Florida Bar shall remit all penalties received to the court. In the event respondent fails to pay the restitution as ordered by the court, The Florida Bar is authorized to file a petition for indirect criminal contempt as provided elsewhere in this chapter.
(g) Issuance of Preliminary or Temporary Injunction. Nothing set forth in this rule shall be construed to limit the authority of the court, upon proper application, to issue a preliminary or temporary injunction, or at any stage of the proceedings to enter any such order as the court deems proper when public harm or the possibility thereof is made apparent to the court, in order that such harm may be summarily prevented or speedily enjoined.