Rule 46 – Objecting to a Ruling or Order

A formal exception to a ruling or order is unnecessary. When the ruling or order is requested or made, a party need only state the action that it wants the court to take or objects to, along with the grounds for the request or objection. Failing to object does not prejudice a party who had no opportunity to do so when the ruling or order was made.

Summary and Explanation

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 46 addresses objections during a trial or a hearing, focusing on the procedure for making objections and how they are recorded. Here’s a concise summary and explanation:


  1. Making Objections: Rule 46 specifies that a party needs to make objections to a court ruling or order timely and clearly to preserve the issue for review. The main requirement is that the objection is made at the point when the court makes a decision or ruling that a party disagrees with.
  2. No Need for Formal Exception: The rule eliminates the need for a formal exception to be made following an objection. Historically, a formal exception was required to preserve the objection for appeal, but under Rule 46, simply making the objection is sufficient.
  3. Record of the Objection: It’s important for the record to clearly reflect each objection, the grounds for the objection if not apparent, and any action the court takes in response to the objection. This ensures that there is a clear record for appellate review.
  4. Ruling on Objections: The rule allows for a party to obtain a ruling from the court on an objection, either at the time it’s made or at a later point. This is critical for clarifying the court’s position and preserving the issue for appeal.


Rule 46 streamlines the process of making objections during trials and hearings, focusing on ensuring that the grounds for objections are clear and the issues are preserved for any potential appeal. By removing the requirement for formal exceptions, the rule simplifies the procedure and places emphasis on the substance of the objection itself rather than on procedural formalities.

The rule reflects an understanding that clarity in the presentation of objections and the court’s rulings on those objections is crucial for the appellate process. It ensures that the appellate courts have a comprehensive record of the objections made during the trial, the reasons for those objections, and how the trial court resolved them. This aids in the appellate review by providing a clear basis for evaluating whether the trial court’s decisions were correct and whether any errors might have affected the outcome of the trial.

Overall, Rule 46 is designed to ensure fairness and efficiency in the trial process, allowing parties to clearly state their objections and have them addressed by the court, all while keeping the procedural requirements straightforward and focused on the preservation of the record for appeal.


(As amended Mar. 2, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 30, 2007, eff. Dec. 1, 2007.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1937

Abolition of formal exceptions is often provided by statute. See Ill.Rev.Stat. (1937), ch. 110, §204; Neb.Comp.Stat. (1929) §20–1139; N.M.Stat.Ann. (Courtright, 1929) §105–830; 2 N.D.Comp.Laws Ann. (1913) §7653; Ohio Code Ann. (Throckmorton, 1936) §11560; 1 S.D.Comp.Laws (1929) §2542; Utah Rev.Stat.Ann. (1933) §§104–39–2, 104–24–18; Va.Rules of Court, Rule 22, 163 Va. v, xii (1935); Wis.Stat. (1935) §270.39. Compare N.Y.C.P.A. (1937) §§583, 445, and 446, all as amended by L. 1936, ch. 915. Rule 51 deals with objections to the court’s instructions to the jury.

U.S.C., Title 28, [former] §§776 (Bill of exceptions; authentication; signing of by judge) and [former] 875 (Review of findings in cases tried without a jury) are superseded insofar as they provide for formal exceptions, and a bill of exceptions.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

The amendments are technical. No substantive change is intended.

Committee Notes on Rules—2007 Amendment

The language of Rule 46 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.

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