The most noteworthy and important developments in trial practice and procedure during this survey period came as the result of legislation. Headlining these new laws is a measure designed to combat frivolous lawsuits by empowering judges to award reasonable attorney's fees and court costs against any party, plaintiff or defendant, who asserts a claim or defense that lacks substantial justification, or who otherwise abuses the process of adjudication. The adoption of this legislation spurred the supreme court to create a new tort of abusive litigation in Yost v. Torok.
For the second consecutive year, the legislature shortened the time in which a plaintiff can voluntarily dismiss a civil action by notice; written notice to dismiss now must be given before the plaintiff rests. The legislature substantially revised Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 9-11-60, concerning relief from judgments, to abolish the use of the complaint in equity as a method of setting aside a judgment. Unfortunately, the new law seems inadvertently to have omitted lack of jurisdiction over the person as a basis for setting aside a judgment. This oversight will cause serious problems in challenging default judgments until corrected.
Finally, the legislature enacted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. The adoption of this uniform law, already on the statute books in twenty-eight other states, will greatly facilitate and simplify the enforcement of foreign judgments against debtors and property in this state by allowing, in substance, the practice used in federal courts of registering the authenticated judgment in lieu of bringing an action to enforce it. The authors will discuss these developments, along with some other significant state appellate court decisions, in the sections that follow.
C. Ronald Ellington and T. Bart Gary,
Trial Practice and Procedure (Annual Survey of Georgia Law)
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