Rule 40 – Scheduling Cases for Trial

Each court must provide by rule for scheduling trials. The court must give priority to actions entitled to priority by a federal statute.

Summary and Explanation

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 40 addresses the scheduling and trial of cases in federal courts, ensuring an orderly and efficient process for moving cases from preparation to trial. Here’s a brief summary and explanation:


  1. Setting Cases for Trial: Rule 40 provides that cases are set for trial by the court without action by the parties, which means the court itself schedules trials based on its calendar and procedural readiness of the cases.
  2. Notice of Trial: Adequate notice of the trial date is given to ensure that all parties have sufficient time to prepare.
  3. Prioritization and Management: The rule allows courts to manage their dockets by prioritizing cases, considering factors like complexity, the readiness of the parties, and the age of the case.


The purpose of Rule 40 is to streamline the trial process, removing the burden from parties to request a trial date and instead placing the responsibility with the court. This approach aims to reduce delays in the trial process, promoting a more just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action, in line with the objectives of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure outlined in Rule 1.

By centralizing control over the scheduling of trials, courts can more effectively manage their dockets, prioritize cases based on need and readiness, and ensure that resources are allocated efficiently. This proactive scheduling helps to avoid unnecessary delays and fosters a more predictable litigation environment for all parties involved.

Overall, Rule 40 plays a crucial role in case management within the federal judiciary, contributing to the overall efficiency of the civil justice system by ensuring that cases progress to trial in a timely and orderly fashion.


(As amended Apr. 30, 2007, eff. Dec. 1, 2007.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1937

U.S.C., Title 28, [former] §769 (Notice of case for trial) is modified. See [former] Equity Rule 56 (On Expiration of Time for Depositions, Case Goes on Trial Calendar). See also [former] Equity Rule 57 (Continuances).

For examples of statutes giving precedence, see U.S.C., Title 28, §47 [now 1253, 2101, 2325] (Injunctions as to orders of Interstate Commerce Commission); §380 [now 1253, 2101, 2284] (Injunctions alleged unconstitutionality of state statutes); §380a [now 1253, 2101, 2284] (Same; Constitutionality of federal statute); [former] §768 (Priority of cases where a state is party); Title 15, §28 (Antitrust laws; suits against monopolies expedited); Title 22, §240 (Petition for restoration of property seized as munitions of war, etc.); and Title 49, [former] §44 (Proceedings in equity under interstate commerce laws; expedition of suits).

Committee Notes on Rules—2007 Amendment

The language of Rule 40 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Civil Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only.

The best methods for scheduling trials depend on local conditions. It is useful to ensure that each district adopts an explicit rule for scheduling trials. It is not useful to limit or dictate the provisions of local rules.

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