[69 N.Y.2d 1 Page 2] Opinion OF THE COURT Petitioner instituted this special proceeding seeking an order adjudging respondent in contempt of court. On respondent's motion Special Term dismissed the petition. In his answering papers, however, respondent had requested costs, disbursements and attorneys' fees alleging that petitioner had instituted the proceeding in bad faith in an attempt to harass and intimidate him. Special Term denied him this relief and the Appellate Division affirmed. In denying the application, neither court indicated whether it did so because it believed the court lacked power to grant the requested relief or because, though the relief was available, it believed such relief was undeserved. The matter is now before us by our leave so that we may consider a matter which has drawn increasing attention from the courts, whether a court may, in the absence of legislation authorizing it to do so, impose a sanction upon an attorney or litigant appearing before it who asserts frivolous claims or pursues frivolous pretrial procedures.