Proposed Changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
On August 15, 2013, the Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on Civil Rules ("Advisory Committee") proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("FRCP"). The amendments included changes to several of the Rules, with the most significant changes to Rules 26 and 37. These changes, which the Advisory Committee first explored at a May 2010 conference at the Duke University School of Law, are arguably the most significant modifications to discovery since the 1993 amendments requiring initial disclosures. From May 2010 to April 2013, the Advisory Committee developed the proposed changes, which are designed to reach the goal of the FRCP—"[securing] the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding." The amendments realize this goal by expediting the initial stages of each matter, ensuring that discovery is proportional and limited to the claims and defenses at issue in the litigation, and providing that parties are not subjected to unnecessary costs related to an overly broad scope of discovery or document preservation obligations.
The amendments were open to public comment from August 15, 2013 to February 18, 2014. The more than 2,300 comments submitted run the gamut from enthusiastically welcoming the changes as essential to sharply criticizing them as unnecessary and unfair. Commenters on both sides suggested further changes. Several bodies must now consider the rules and these related comments. This White Paper describes the proposed changes, provides an overview of the comments submitted, and outlines the next steps in the process.