Recent and Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules – Annual Report 2017
The Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure govern practice in the federal courts. The Judicial Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure (Standing Committee) and its five advisory committees carry on a continuous study of the operation and effect of the federal rules as directed by the Rules Enabling Act.
Newly Adopted Federal Rules Amendments
In April 2017, the Supreme Court adopted and transmitted to Congress amendments to the following rules:
- Appellate Rule 4 and Bankruptcy Rules 1001, 1006, 1015, 2002, 3002, 3007, 3012, 3015, 4003, 5009, 7001, and 9009 (plus a new Rule 3015.1);
- Civil Rule 4; and
- Evidence Rules 803 and 902.
Congress took no action to modify or reject these Supreme Court-approved amendments, and the amendments took effect on December 1, 2017.
Ten of the Bankruptcy Rules adopted by the Supreme Court – Rules 2002, 3002, 3007, 3012, 3015, 3015.1, 4003, 5009, 7001, and 9009 – are part of the Chapter 13 plan form package. Official Form 113 – the official form for a Chapter 13 plan – was approved by the Judicial Conference in March 2017. The rules amendments establish a national plan form, but also allow for the possibility of district-by-district opt-out, as long as the opt-out district adopts a local district-wide form plan that meets the requirements set forth in new Rule 3015.1.
Pending Rules Amendments
On September 12, 2017, the following amendments proposed by the Judiciary Conference’s Standing Committee were approved by the Judicial Conference. They were transmitted to the Supreme Court on October 4, 2017:
- Appellate Rules 8, 11, 25, 26, 28.1, 29, 31, 39, and 41, and Forms 4 and 7;
- Bankruptcy Rules 3002.1, 5005, 7004, 7062, 8002, 8006, 8007, 8010, 8011, 8013, 8015, 8016, 8017, 8021, 8022, 9025 (plus new Rule 8018.1 and new Part VIII Appendix), and Official Forms 25A, 25B, 25C, 26 (renumbered as 425A, 425B, 425C, and 426), 101, 309F, 309G, 309H, 309I, 417A, and 417C;
- Civil Rules 5, 23, 62, and 65.1; and
- Criminal Rules 12.4, 45, and 49.
Among the amendments recommended for approval are parallel revisions of Appellate Rule 25, Bankruptcy Rules 5005 and 8011, Civil Rule 5, and Criminal Rule 49, as part of the effort to develop coordinated rules for electronic filing and service. The proposals require parties represented by counsel to file electronically, with exceptions for good cause and local rules. The proposed amendments also address pro se filing, establish a uniform national signature provision, and address proof of service (except for Bankruptcy Rule 5005). The Criminal Rules would no longer incorporate Civil Rule 5. Instead, proposed amendments to Criminal Rule 49 would create a stand-alone criminal rule for filing and service that addresses concerns particular to criminal law practice.
If the Supreme Court approves the proposed amendments, they will be transmitted to Congress by May 1, 2018. Barring congressional action to modify or reject the proposals, the amendments will take effect on December 1, 2018. Official bankruptcy forms do not require Supreme Court approval; revisions of bankruptcy forms would take effect on December 1, 2017. Proposed revisions to Official Forms 417A and 417C would take effect on December 1, 2018.
Proposed Amendments for Public Comment
On August 11, 2017, the advisory rules committees published proposed amendments to their respective rules and forms, and solicited comments on the proposals from the bench, bar, and public. The public comment period closes on February 15, 2018.