No Federal Rules of Civil Procedure changes for 2019-2020

On April 25, 2019, the Supreme Court released its annual federal court rules updates for 2019-2020, and there were no updates approved for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This means that the rules will stay the same through at least December 1, 2020.

Updates were approved for the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.

There is a pending rule change for Rule 30 of the Fed. R. Civ. P. that may be approved next year for implementation on December 1, 2020. The proposed comment to the amendment reads as follows:

Rule 30(b)(6) is amended to respond to problems that have emerged in some cases. Particular concerns have included overlong or ambiguously worded lists of matters for examination and inadequately prepared witnesses. This amendment directs the serving party and the named organization to confer before or promptly after the notice or subpoena is served, and to continue conferring as necessary, regarding the number and description of matters for examination and the identity of persons who will testify. At the same time, it may be productive to discuss other matters, such as having the serving party identify in advance of the deposition the documents it intends to use during the deposition, thereby facilitating deposition preparation. The amendment also requires that a subpoena notify a nonparty organization of its duty to confer and to designate one or more witnesses to testify. It facilitates collaborative efforts to achieve the proportionality goals of the 2015 amendments to Rules 1 and 26(b)(1).

Candid exchanges about discovery goals and organizational information structure may reduce the difficulty of identifying the right person to testify and the materials needed to prepare that person. Discussion of the number and description of topics may avoid unnecessary burdens. Although the named organization ultimately has the right to select its designees, discussion about the identity of persons to be designated to testify may avoid later disputes. It may be productive also to discuss “process” issues, such as the timing and location of the deposition.

The amended rule directs that the parties confer either before or promptly after the notice or subpoena is served. If they begin to confer before service, the discussion may be more productive if the serving party provides a draft of the proposed list of matters for examination, which may then be refined as the parties confer. The rule recognizes that the process of conferring will often be iterative, and that a single conference may not suffice. For example, the organization may be in a position to discuss the identity of the person or persons to testify only after the matters for examination have been delineated. The obligation is to confer in good faith, consistent with Rule 1, and the amendment does not require the parties to reach agreement. The duty to confer continues if needed to fulfill the requirement of good faith. But the conference process must be completed a reasonable time before the deposition is scheduled to occur.

When the need for a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition is known early in the case, the Rule 26(f) conference may provide an occasion for beginning discussion of these topics. In appropriate cases, it may also be helpful to include reference to Rule 30(b)(6) depositions in the discovery plan submitted to the court under Rule 26(f)(3) and in the matters considered at a pretrial conference under Rule 16.

You can keep an eye on the proposed amendment here.

Scroll to Top