Supreme Court Approves 2017-2018 Amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

On April 27, 2017, the Supreme Court approved one amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which will take effect on December 1, 2017. Rule 4 is the only rule affected. The amendment and its explanation are as follows (additions are underlined and deletions have highlight):

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m). Civil Rule 4(m) addresses the time limit for service of a summons and was amended in two consecutive years, 2015 and 2016. In addition to shortening the presumptive time for service from 120 days to 90 days, the 2015 amendment added an exemption from the time limit for Rule 71.1(d)(3)(A) notices of a condemnation action. The 2016 amendment added another exemption for Rule 4(h)(2) service on a corporation, partnership, or association at a place not within any judicial district of the United States.

The sequential amendments resulted in an error. The 2016 amendment exempting Rule 4(h)(2) was prepared in 2014, before the 2015 amendment exempting Rule 71.1(d)(3)(A) was in effect. Once the 2015 amendment became effective, it should have been incorporated into the proposed 2016 amendment then making its way through the Rules Enabling Act process, but such a revision of the 2016 materials was overlooked. As a result, Rule 71.1(d)(3)(A) was not included in the list of exemptions in Rule 4(m) when the 2016 amendment became effective. The Advisory and Standing Committees unanimously recommend restoring Rule 71.1(d)(3)(A) to the list of exemptions in Rule 4(m) without re-publication.


Rule 4. Summons

* * * * *

(m) Time Limit for Service. If a defendant is not served within 90 days after the complaint is filed, the court—on motion or on its own after notice to the plaintiff—must dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant or order that service be made within a specified time. But if the plaintiff shows good cause for the failure, the court must extend the time for service for an appropriate period. This subdivision (m) does not apply to service in a foreign country under Rule 4(f), 4(h)(2), or 4(j)(1), or to service of a notice under Rule 71.1(d)(3)(A).

* * * * *

Committee Note

This is a technical amendment that integrates the intended effect of the amendments adopted in 2015 and 2016.

Supreme Court Approves 2016-2017 Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

[UPDATE: The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; 2017 Edition book is now available for $18.50 from Amazon.com]

 

On April 28, 2016, the Supreme Court approved three amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which will take effect on December 1, 2016. The rules affected are 4, 6, and 82. The amendments and explanations are as follows (additions are underlined and deletions have strike through):

Rule 4. Summons

* * * * *

(m) Time Limit for Service. If a defendant is not served within 90 days after the complaint is filed, the court–on motion or on its own after notice to the plaintiff–must dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant or order that service be made within a specified time. But if the plaintiff shows good cause for the failure, the court must extend the time for service for an appropriate period. This subdivision (m) does not apply to service in a foreign country under Rule 4(f), 4(h)(2), or 4(j)(1).

* * * * *

Committee Note

Rule 4(m) is amended to correct a possible ambiguity that appears to have generated some confusion in practice. Service in a foreign country often is accomplished by means that require more than the time set by Rule 4(m). This problem is recognized by the two clear exceptions for service on an individual in a foreign country under Rule4(f) and for service on a foreign state under Rule 4(j)(1). The potential ambiguity arises from the lack of any explicit reference to service on a corporation, partnership, or other unincorporated association. Rule 4(h)(2) provides for service on such defendants at a place outside any judicial district of the United States “in any manner prescribed by Rule 4(f) for serving an individual, except personal delivery under (f)(2)(C)(i).” Invoking service “in the manner prescribed by Rule 4(f)” could easily be read to mean that service under Rule 4(h)(2) is also service “under” Rule 4(f). That interpretation is in keeping with the purpose to recognize the delays that often occur in effecting service in a foreign country. But it also is possible to read the words for what they seem to say— service is under Rule 4(h)(2), albeit in a manner borrowed from almost all, but not quite all, of Rule 4(f).

The amendment resolves this possible ambiguity.

Rule 6. Computing and Extending Time; Time for Motion Papers

* * * * *

(d) Additional Time After Certain Kinds of Service. When a party may or must act within a specified time after servicebeing served and service is made under Rule 5(b)(2)(C) (mail), (D) (leaving with the clerk), (E), or (F) (other means consented to), 3 days are added after the period would otherwise expire under Rule 6(a).

* * * * *

Committee Note

Rule 6(d) is amended to remove service by electronic means under Rule 5(b)(2)(E) from the modes of service that allow 3 added days to act after being served.

Rule 5(b)(2) was amended in 2001 to provide for service by electronic means. Although electronic transmission seemed virtually instantaneous even then, electronic service was included in the modes of service that allow 3 added days to act after being served. There were concerns that the transmission might be delayed for some time, and particular concerns that incompatible systems might make it difficult or impossible to open attachments. Those concerns have been substantially alleviated by advances in technology and in widespread skill in using electronic transmission.

A parallel reason for allowing the 3 added days was that electronic service was authorized only with the consent of the person to be served. Concerns about the reliability of electronic transmission might have led to refusals of consent; the 3 added days were calculated to alleviate these concerns.

Diminution of the concerns that prompted the decision to allow the 3 added days for electronic transmission is not the only reason for discarding this indulgence. Many rules have been changed to ease the task of computing time by adopting 7-, 14-, 21-, and 28-day periods that allow “day- of-the-week” counting. Adding 3 days at the end complicated the counting, and increased the occasions for further complication by invoking the provisions that apply when the last day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Electronic service after business hours, or just before or during a weekend or holiday, may result in a practical reduction in the time available to respond. Extensions of time may be warranted to prevent prejudice.

Eliminating Rule 5(b) subparagraph (2)(E) from the modes of service that allow 3 added days means that the 3 added days cannot be retained by consenting to service by electronic means. Consent to electronic service in registering for electronic case filing, for example, does not count as consent to service “by any other means” of delivery under subparagraph (F).

What is now Rule 6(d) was amended in 2005 “to remove any doubt as to the method for calculating the time to respond after service by mail, leaving with the clerk of court, electronic means, or by other means consented to by the party served.” A potential ambiguity was created by substituting “after service” for the earlier references to acting after service “upon the party” if a paper or notice “is served upon the party” by the specified means. “[A]fter service” could be read to refer not only to a party that has been served but also to a party that has made service. That reading would mean that a party who is allowed a specified time to act after making service can extend the time by choosing one of the means of service specified in the rule, something that was never intended by the original rule or the amendment. Rules setting a time to act after making service include Rules 14(a)(1), 15(a)(1)(A), and 38(b)(1). “[A]fter being served” is substituted for “after service” to dispel any possible misreading.

Rule 82. Jurisdiction and Venue Unaffected

These rules do not extend or limit the jurisdiction of the district courts or the venue of actions in those courts. An admiralty or maritime claim under Rule 9(h) is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1390 not a civil action for purposes of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391-1392.

Committee Note

Rule 82 is amended to reflect the enactment of 28 U.S.C. § 1390 and the repeal of § 1392.

 

Meeting of the Judicial Conference; Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure [June 6-7, 2016]

The Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure will hold a meeting on June 6, 2016, which will continue the morning of June 7, 2016, if necessary. The meeting will be open to public observation but not participation. An agenda and supporting materials will be posted at least 7 days in advance of the meeting at: http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/records-and-archives-rules-committees/agenda-books.

DATES:

June 6-7, 2016.
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

ADDRESSES:

Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, Mecham Conference Center, One Columbus Circle NE., Washington, DC 20544.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rebecca A. Womeldorf, Rules Committee Secretary, Rules Committee Support Office, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Washington, DC 20544, telephone (202) 502-1820.

A PDF copy of this notice is available by clicking here.

Notice of Meeting of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure

———————————————————————–

JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES

Meeting of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules of
Civil Procedure

AGENCY: Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure, Judicial
Conference of the United States.

ACTION: Notice of open meeting.

———————————————————————–

SUMMARY: The Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure will hold a
two-day meeting. The meeting will be open to public observation but not
participation. An agenda and supporting materials will be posted at
least 7 days in advance of the meeting at: http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/records-and-archives-rules-committees/agenda-books.

DATES: Date: April 14-15, 2016.
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa, Malcolm’s Ball Room, 2842 S.
Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach, FL 33480.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rebecca A. Womeldorf, Rules Committee
Secretary, Rules Committee Support Office, Administrative Office of the
United States Courts, Washington, DC 20544, telephone (202) 502-1820.

Dated: February 4, 2016.
Rebecca A. Womeldorf,
Rules Committee Secretary.

Rules Changes for 2016 Submitted to the Supreme Court

On October 9, 2015, the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States submitted to the Supreme Court the proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for 2016. Normally the Court approves these changes each April and they take effect in December of that year. These changes wouldn’t take effect until a year from now, if they are adopted. The proposed changes are as follows:

I. Elimination of the Three-Day Rule for Items Served Electronically

The Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Procedure have long added three extra days to calculate time periods measured from certain types of service, most notably for service by U.S. mail. For some time, the three extra days have applied to filings served electronically. Each Advisory Committee affected by this convention agrees that the time for treating electronic service like mail service has come and gone. They therefore propose to eliminate the 3-day rule when a party receives service of an item electronically. The resulting package would amend Appellate Rule 26(c), Bankruptcy Rule 9006(f), Civil Rule 6(d), and Criminal Rule 45(c) to eliminate the 3-day rule in cases of electronic service. Each of the amendments works in the same way—with one exception. The proposed amendment to Appellate Rule 26(c) differs slightly because, under current Rule 26(c), application of the 3-day rule depends on whether the paper in question is delivered on the date of service stated in the proof of service. The proposed amendment to Rule 26(c) deems a paper served electronically as delivered on the date of service stated in the proof of service.

With the approval of the Standing Committee, all of these amendments were published together. The key concern identified during the public comment period was that this modification of the 3-day rule might create hardships in some settings. The Advisory Committees as a result agreed to add parallel language to each Committee Note recognizing that extensions of time may be warranted to prevent prejudice in certain circumstances. All four Advisory Committees and the Standing Committee unanimously approved the final package of amendments.

II. Service on a Foreign Corporation

The proposed amendment to Civil Rule 4(m), the rule addressing time limits for service, corrects an ambiguity regarding service abroad on a corporation. Many practitioners labor under the misimpression that the time for service set forth in Rule 4(m) applies to foreign corporations. This ambiguity arises because two exceptions for service on an individual in a foreign country under Rule 4(f) and for service on a foreign state under Rule 4(j)(1) are clearly referenced, while no such explicit reference is made to service on a corporation. Rule 4(h)(2) provides for service on a corporation at a place not within any judicial district of the United States in a “manner prescribed by Rule 4(f).” It is not clear whether this is service “under” Rule 4(f). The proposed amendment makes clear that the time limit set forth in Rule 4(m) does not include service under Rule 4(h)(2). The Advisory Committee and the Standing Committee unanimously approved the amendment.

III. Service

This proposed amendment to Civil Rule 6(d) substitutes the language “after being served” for “after service.” The purpose of the amendment is to correct a potential ambiguity that was created when the “after service” language was included in the rule when it was amended in 2005. “[A]fter service” could be read to refer not only to a party that has been served but also to a party that has made service. The proposed amendment was published in August 2013, and approved unanimously by the Advisory and Standing Committees in 2014. It was held in abeyance for one year so that it could be submitted simultaneously with the 3-day rule package.

IV. Venue Technical Amendment

This amendment is technical and conforming. Civil Rule 82 addresses venue for admiralty and maritime claims. The proposed amendment arises from legislation that added a new § 1390 to the venue statutes in Title 28 and repealed former § 1392 (local actions). The proposed amendment deletes the reference to § 1391 and to repealed § 1392 and adds a reference to new § 1390 in order to carry forward the purpose of integrating Rule 9(h) with the venue statutes through Rule 82. The Advisory Committee and the Standing Committee unanimously approved the amendment.

Text of Proposed Rule Changes

Below are the proposed rule changes, with those words to be removed noted with a strike through and new words denoted with an underline.


Rule 4. Summons

***

(m) Time Limit for Service. If a defendant is not served within 90 days after the complaint is filed, the court—on motion or on its own after notice to the plaintiff—must dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant or order that service be made within a specified time. But if the plaintiff shows good cause for the failure, the court must extend the time for service for an appropriate period. This subdivision (m) does not apply to service in a foreign country under Rule 4(f), 4(h)(2), or 4(j)(1).

Committee Note:

Rule 4(m) is amended to correct a possible ambiguity that appears to have generated some confusion in practice. Service in a foreign country often is accomplished by means that require more than the time set by Rule 4(m). This problem is recognized by the two clear exceptions for service on an individual in a foreign country under Rule 4(f) and for service on a foreign state under Rule 4(j)(1). The potential ambiguity arises from the lack of any explicit reference to service on a corporation, partnership, or other unincorporated association. Rule 4(h)(2) provides for service on such defendants at a place outside any judicial district of the United States “in any manner prescribed by Rule 4(f) for serving an individual, except personal delivery under (f)(2)(C)(i).” Invoking service “in the manner prescribed by Rule 4(f)” could easily be read to mean that service under Rule 4(h)(2) is also service “under” Rule 4(f). That interpretation is in keeping with the purpose to recognize the delays that often occur in effecting service in a foreign country. But it also is possible to read the words for what they seem to say—service is under Rule 4(h)(2), albeit in a manner borrowed from almost all, but not quite all, of Rule 4(f).

The amendment resolves this possible ambiguity.


Rule 6. Computing and Extending Time; Time for Motion Papers

***

(d) Additional Time After Certain Kinds of Service. When a party may or must act within a specified time after servicebeing served and service is made under Rule 5(b)(2)(C) (mail), (D) (leaving with the clerk), (E), or (F) (other means consented to), 3 days are added after the period would otherwise expire under Rule 6(a).

Committee Note

Rule 6(d) is amended to remove service by electronic means under Rule 5(b)(2)(E) from the modes of service that allow 3 added days to act after being served.

Rule 5(b)(2) was amended in 2001 to provide for service by electronic means. Although electronic transmission seemed virtually instantaneous even then, electronic service was included in the modes of service that allow 3 added days to act after being served. There were concerns that the transmission might be delayed for some time, and particular concerns that incompatible systems might make it difficult or impossible to open attachments. Those concerns have been substantially alleviated by advances in technology and in widespread skill in using electronic transmission.

A parallel reason for allowing the 3 added days was that electronic service was authorized only with the consent of the person to be served. Concerns about the reliability of electronic transmission might have led to refusals of consent; the 3 added days were calculated to alleviate these concerns.

Diminution of the concerns that prompted the decision to allow the 3 added days for electronic transmission is not the only reason for discarding this indulgence. Many rules have been changed to ease the task of computing time by adopting 7-, 14-, 21-, and 28-day periods that allow “day-of-the-week” counting. Adding 3 days at the end complicated the counting, and increased the occasions for further complication by invoking the provisions that apply when the last day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Electronic service after business hours, or just before or during a weekend or holiday, may result in a practical reduction in the time available to respond. Extensions of time may be warranted to prevent prejudice.

Eliminating Rule 5(b) subparagraph (2)(E) from the modes of service that allow 3 added days means that the 3 added days cannot be retained by consenting to service by electronic means. Consent to electronic service in registering for electronic case filing, for example, does not count as consent to service “by any other means” of delivery under subparagraph (F).

What is now Rule 6(d) was amended in 2005 “to remove any doubt as to the method for calculating the time to respond after service by mail, leaving with the clerk of court, electronic means, or by other means consented to by the party served.” A potential ambiguity was created by substituting “after service” for the earlier references to acting after service “upon the party” if a paper or notice “is served upon the party” by the specified means. “[A]fter service” could be read to refer not only to a party that has been served but also to a party that has made service. That reading would mean that a party who is allowed a specified time to act after making service can extend the time by choosing one of the means of service specified in the rule, something that was never intended by the original rule or the amendment . Rules setting a time to act after making service include Rules 14(a)(1), 15(a)(1)(A), and 38(b)(1). “[A]fter being served” is substituted for “after service” to dispel any possible misreading.


Rule 82. Jurisdiction and Venue Unaffected

These rules do not extend or limit the jurisdiction of the district courts or the venue of actions in those courts. An admiralty or maritime claim under Rule 9(h) is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1390 not a civil action for purposes of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391-1392.

Committee Note

Rule 82 is amended to reflect the enactment of 28 U.S.C. § 1390 and the repeal of § 1392.

Print Edition of the 2016 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Released

2016 Federal Rules of Civil ProcedureThe print edition of the 2016 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure has been released and is now available at all book retailers, including Amazon.com. The cover price is $18.50, but Amazon often discounts the price 10-15% or more. Click here to order.

The 2016 changes to the rules were outlined in two previous news updates:

The print edition includes the rules as well as supplementary statutory sections for the current law on venue, jurisdiction, and removal from state courts.

Stay up to date. Order the 2016 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure online now.

2016 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to be Updated on December 1

December is coming up fast and that means the 2016 Edition of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will come into effect on December 1, 2015. We previously posted an article with a summary of the changes, so be sure to check that out for more detail. This web site will be updated on December 1 with the Rules changes.

(UPDATE: The print edition of the 2016 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is now available for purchase. Click here for more details.)

How are the updated rules different from the previous versions? We explain below:

  1. The process of initiating a lawsuit is sped up. In the previous rules, a plaintiff had 120 days to serve the defendant with the summons and complaint. The new version of Rule 4(m) reduces that time to just 90 days. The court has the option of dismissing the case if the plaintiff has not served the defendant in that period of time. In addition, the court must now issue a scheduling order within 60 days of the defendant being served, which is down from the previous 90 days. See rule 16(b)(2). Discovery can start sooner too. According to the new Rule 26(d)(2), requests for production can be served 21 days after the defendant is served with the summons and complaint, even if the Rule 26 scheduling conference hasn’t been held yet.
  2. Discovery is now held to a “proportionality” standard. The amended Rule 26(b) defines discovery as that which is proportional to the needs of the case. This eliminates the previous wording that is extremely expansive, which allowed discovery that is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” This is a major change to the Rules. To illustrate this new proportionality standard, the text of the amended Rule 26(b)(1) is as follows (in part): “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the amount in controversy, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the parties’ resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.”
  3. Failure to preserve Electronically Stored Information. Previously, the court had wide discretion to punish the failure to preserve ESI, but the 2016 amendments more clearly define the potential consequences. The amended Rule 37(e)(1) provides the court with a variety of remedies to address failures to preserve ESI that “should have” been maintained, including “measures no greater than necessary to cure” the loss of ESI or resulting prejudice.
  4. Miscellaneous. The section of the rules (Appendix of Forms) that contained sample forms has been removed, as has Rule 84, which referred to that Appendix. The forms will simply be posted on the US Courts web site.

We also recommend the United States Courts Archive web site for access to millions of federal court filings and cases.

What is a civil complaint?

While litigation can seem like an impenetrable concept to someone who isn’t an attorney, in many ways filing (or responding to) a lawsuit is fairly straightforward. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure contain the foundations needed to understand how the process works. Of course, there are also local rules for each federal district court, and hundreds of years’ worth of court cases interpreting the rules, but at its core, a lawsuit isn’t as difficult to understand as it may seem.

The first procedural step in filing a federal lawsuit is to file the complaint. Rule 3 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (abbreviated Fed. R. Civ. P.) is very short and straightforward:

A civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court.

Wow, that was easy, right? Well, not so fast, because the rule doesn’t explain exactly what a complaint is. The federal courts web site provides a sample complaint form, which you can view here. Check out Civil Form 10 for example paragraphs to include in a civil complaint.

Generally a complaint contains a caption, listing the court that it is being filed with; the names of the plaintiff and defendant; the case number; and the judge to whom the case is assigned. The document will usually also include, in its header section, the title “Complaint” so that the reader will immediately know what kind of document it is.

The complaint then will list, in numbered paragraphs, several important pieces of information. The sections usually include an introduction naming the parties and a little bit of information about each, a statement of jurisdiction (an explanation of why the court the complaint is being filed with is the proper court to file the lawsuit with), and then a list of alleged violations by the defendant of the plaintiff’s rights, either under a contract or pursuant to a law.

View this example complaint for copyright infringement to see how these important sections look. You’ll notice the sections mentioned above, along with a summary of the facts of the case (including copies of photos and other documents), and then numbered causes of action. In this example, the causes of action are for copyright infringement (see page 6 of the example). The plaintiff claims first that it owns the copyright to the photo in contention, that the defendant didn’t get permission to copy the photo, and that plaintiff was damaged by this alleged violation of its copyright. The second cause of action is for vicarious liability, which, in legal terms, means that one person is responsible for the actions of another, generally in the context of an employment relationship where the employer is liable for the actions of an employee. That’s how lawyers sue companies to get larger payouts that if the individual employee alone were to be sued.

Finally, the example complaint contains a prayer for relief, which is a legal term for asking the court for some sort of damages. In the example, the plaintiff requests that the court grant it $30,000 for each copyright infringement and statutory damages of $150,000 for each infringement.

As you can see, a complaint doesn’t need to be very long. The example is just nine pages in length.

But, that’s not all you need to do. When filing a civil complaint with a federal court, you must also include a filing fee, which is currently $350. Once you properly file a complaint and pay the filing fee, the court clerk is required to issue you a summons document (according to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4) which the plaintiff is then required to serve on the defendant. Serving a summons and complaint on a defendant is required in order for the defendant to properly be notified of the lawsuit.

Stay tuned for more articles on how the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure work!

 


WARING: This website is not legal advice. If you need legal help, please contact an attorney.

2015-2016 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Amendments Released

On April 29, 2015, the US Supreme Court released the 2015-2016 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that will take effect on December 1, 2015.

(UPDATE: The print edition of the 2016 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is now available for purchase for $18.00. Click here for more details.)

The rules that are being amended are as follows:

  • Rule 1 – Rule 1 is amended to emphasize that just as the court should construe and administer these rules to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action, so the parties share the responsibility to employ the rules in the same way. Most lawyers and parties cooperate to achieve these ends. But discussions of ways to improve the administration of civil justice regularly include pleas to discourage over-use, misuse, and abuse of procedural tools that increase cost and result in delay. Effective advocacy is consistent with — and indeed depends upon — cooperative
    and proportional use of procedure.
  • Rule 4 (with forms) – The presumptive time for serving a defendant is reduced from 120 days to 90 days. This change, together with the shortened times for issuing a scheduling order set by amended Rule 16(b)(2), will reduce delay at the beginning of litigation.
  • Rule 16 – The provision for consulting at a scheduling conference by “telephone, mail, or other means” is deleted. A scheduling conference is more effective if the court and
    parties engage in direct simultaneous communication. The conference may be held in person, by telephone, or by more sophisticated electronic means. The time to issue the scheduling order is reduced to the earlier of 90 days (not 120 days) after any defendant
    has been served, or 60 days (not 90 days) after any defendant has appeared.
  • Rule 26 – The present amendment restores the proportionality factors to their original place in defining the scope of discovery. This change reinforces the Rule 26(g) obligation of the parties to consider these factors in making discovery requests, responses, or objections.
  • Rule 30 – Rule 30 is amended in parallel with Rules 31 and 33 to reflect the recognition of proportionality in Rule 26(b)(1).
  • Rule 31 – Rule 31 is amended in parallel with Rules 30 and 33 to reflect the recognition of proportionality in Rule 26(b)(1).
  • Rule 33 – Rule 33 is amended in parallel with Rules 30 and 31 to reflect the recognition of proportionality in Rule 26(b)(1).
  • Rule 34 – Several amendments are made in Rule 34, aimed at reducing the potential to impose unreasonable burdens by objections to requests to produce.
  • Rule 37 – Rule 37(a)(3)(B)(iv) is amended to reflect the common practice of producing copies of documents or electronically stored information rather than simply permitting inspection. This change brings item (iv) into line with paragraph (B), which provides a motion for an order compelling “production, or inspection.” Subdivision (e). Present Rule 37(e), adopted in 2006, provides: “Absent exceptional circumstances, a court may not impose sanctions under these rules on a party for failing to provide electronically stored information lost as a result of the routine, good-faith operation of an electronic information system.” This limited rule has not adequately addressed the serious problems resulting from the continued exponential growth in the volume of such information. Federal circuits have established significantly different standards for imposing sanctions or curative measures on parties who fail to preserve electronically stored information. These developments have caused litigants to expend excessive effort and money on preservation in order to avoid the risk of severe sanctions if a court finds they did not do enough. New Rule 37(e) replaces the 2006 rule. It authorizes and specifies measures a court may employ if information that should have been preserved is lost, and specifies the findings necessary to justify these measures. It therefore forecloses reliance on inherent authority or state law to determine when certain measures should be used. The rule does not affect the validity of an independent tort claim for spoliation if state law applies in a case and authorizes the claim.
  • Rule 55 – Rule 55(c) is amended to make plain the interplay between Rules 54(b), 55(c), and 60(b). A default judgment that does not dispose of all of the claims among all parties is not a final judgment unless the court directs entry of final judgment under Rule 54(b). Until final judgment is entered, Rule 54(b) allows revision of the default judgment at any time. The demanding standards set by Rule 60(b) apply only in seeking relief from a final judgment.
  • Rule 84 (abrogated) – Rule 84 was adopted when the Civil Rules were established in 1938 “to indicate, subject to the provisions of these rules, the simplicity and brevity of statement which the rules contemplate.” The purpose of providing illustrations for the rules, although useful when the rules were adopted, has been fulfilled. Accordingly, recognizing that there are many alternative sources for forms, including the website of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the websites of many district courts, and local law libraries that contain many commercially published forms, Rule 84 and the Appendix of Forms are no longer necessary and have been abrogated. The abrogation of Rule 84 does not alter existing pleading standards or otherwise change the requirements of Civil Rule 8.
  • Appendix of forms (abrogated) – Abrogation of Rule 84 and the other official forms requires that former Forms 5 and 6 be directly incorporated into Rule 4.

View the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 2015-2016 Amendments and Changes

We will update www.federalrulesofcivilprocedure.org on December 1, when the amendments take effect.

2015 Updates to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

On April 25, 2014, the Chief Justice of the United States submitted the 2015 changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The amendment, effective on December 1, 2014, only effects one of the rules, FRCP 77(c)(1). The amended section is as follows:


Rule 77. Conducting Business; Clerk’s Authority; Notice of an Order or Judgment

* * * * *

(c) Clerk’s Office Hours; Clerk’s Orders.

(1) Hours. The clerk’s office — with a clerk or deputy on duty — must be open during business hours every day except Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. But a court may, by local rule or order, require that the office be open for specified hours on Saturday or a particular legal holiday other than one listed in Rule 6(a)(6)(A).


FRCP 77 has been updated on this site with this change as of December 1, 2014.