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Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure

The Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure (the “Standing Committee”) continued its work to determine whether clarifying certain rules would reduce costs and delays in civil litigation. The Standing Committee also looked at what rule changes would assist judges in effectively managing cases.

Recent and Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules

Newly Effective Amendments

Congress took no action on the amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Evidence approved by the Supreme Court and transmitted to Congress in April 2013. Under the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2071-75, the following amendments took effect on December 1, 2013:  Appellate Rules 13, 14, 24, 28, and 28.1, and Form 4; Bankruptcy Rules 1007, 4004, 5009, 9006, 9013, and 9014; Civil Rules 37 and 45; Criminal Rules 11 and 16; and Evidence Rule 803(10).

Pending Rules Amendments

In September 2013, the Judicial Conference approved proposed amendments to the Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Evidence. The package of rules amendments was delivered to the Supreme Court in November 2013. If approved by the Supreme Court, the amendments will be transmitted to Congress by May 1, 2014, and would take effect on December 1, 2014, unless Congress acts to the contrary. The Judicial Conference also approved revisions of Official Bankruptcy Forms 3A, 3B, 6I, 6J, 6 Summary, 23, and 27, which took effect on December 1, 2013.  

Proposed Bankruptcy and Civil Rules Amendments Published for Public Comment

On August 15, 2013, the Advisory Committees on Bankruptcy and Civil Rules published for public comment proposed amendments to their respective rules and forms.

Proposed Amendments to Bankruptcy Rules and Forms. The proposed amendments to the Bankruptcy Rules includes a national Chapter 13 plan form, together with implementing amendments to Rules 2002, 3002, 3007, 3012, 3015, 4003, 5009, 7001, and 9009. For the past two years, the advisory committee has been working on drafting a national Chapter 13 plan form with the twin goals of bringing more uniformity to Chapter 13 practice and simplifying the review of Chapter 13 plans by debtors, courts, trustees, and creditors. Through its forms modernization project, the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules is also progressing in its multi-year undertaking to restyle the Official Forms and to improve the interface between the forms and available technology. The project includes a dedicated set of forms for use in cases involving individual debtors.

Proposed Amendments to Civil Rules. Comments are also being sought on a variety of proposed amendments to the Civil Rule amendments including a package of rules amendments developed to implement ideas resulting from the advisory committee’s 2010 Conference on Civil Litigation held at Duke University School of Law. The amendments seek to improve early and effective judicial case management, enhance the means of keeping discovery proportional to the action, and encourage cooperation. A separate proposal also developed from the 2010 conference would amend Civil Rule 37(e) to address the broad preservation of electronically stored information that many litigants and potential litigants feel they must undertake to ensure against any possible sanctions. Finally, the advisory committee recommends abrogating Rule 84 and the Civil Rules Official Forms.

Website Resources

All of the proposed amendments, rules committee reports explaining the proposed changes, and other information are posted on the Judiciary’s website in the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure section.