In 2002, the legislature amended section 57.105 to include a safe harbor provision that requires those who take assertedly meritless positions in court filings to be given a chance to withdraw those filings before a motion for sanctions can be filed. Does the safe harbor requirement apply to filings that pre-date its July 1, 2002 effective date?
The Florida Supreme Court confronted that question in this case and answered it in the negative. The court determined that the amendment was substantive and that the legislature gave no indication it was intended to be applied retroactively.
As a result, a person moving for attorney’s fees with respect to a filing that predates the amendment’s July 2002 effective date need not send a safe harbor letter. The high court quashed this decision from the Fifth District that reached a different conclusion.