Amendments to the Federal Rules-Once is Never Enough!?

On December 1, 2015, amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the “Rules”) became effective. Rules 1, 4, 16, 26, 30, 31, 33, 34, 37, and 55 were amended and Rule 84 and the Appendix of forms were abrogated. There is insufficient space in this blog to go through each amendment and readers are encouraged to go to the Legal Information Institute sponsored by Cornell Law School at https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp to see the complete set of updated rules.

Some changes were made to Rule 26 that are worth noting. Rule 26(b)(1) was changed to add proportionality considerations. Under the amended Rule 26, the scope of discovery requires the discoverable information to be relevant and proportional to the needs of the case. Specific considerations to determine proportionality under Rule 26(b)(1) are: the importance of the issues at stake, the amount of controversy, the parties’ relative access to relevant information, 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. Rule 26(b)(1) was also amended to eliminate discovery of information relevant to the subject matter when the court finds good cause; only information relevant to the parties’ claims and defenses can now be sought.

While you are getting use to the new amendments, get ready for another set of proposed 2016 rule amendments that are already in the hopper. If approved by the United States Supreme Court and no contrary action is taken by Congress, additional amendments will take place on December 1, 2016.

The Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure has approved amendments to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 4, 6 and 82 and Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure 4, 5, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 28.1, 29, 32, 35, and 40; and Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Forms 1, 5, 6, and a proposed new form 7. See http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/pending-rules-amendments.

These are interesting times as the Federal Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure attempt to change to keep up with the technological advances that seem to happen every month. Training programs should be set up to prepare both lawyers and our clients for these changes with as much notice as possible so clients are not caught off guard. The opinions in this blog are solely the author’s and any comments, replies or suggestions can be sent to john@jrjoneslaw.com.

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