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The New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

On December 1, 2007, a revised and restyled Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (F.R.C.P.) became effective. The Style Project, as it is called, rewrote the rules using "plain language" with the purpose of making them easier to understand. This project, begun in 1992, resulted in the most extensive revision of the rules since their establishment in 1938.

The new rules may be viewed online at the Federal Judiciary's website for federal rules of practice, procedure, and evidence, as well as, at Cornell's Legal Information Institute website.

The Federal Judiciary's website also gives you considerable insight into the rulemaking process itself, and the changes that were made. For example, you will find links to the Current and Restyled Rules Comparison Chart, another chart outlining the Civil Rules Style Project Global Drafting Issues, as well as, excerpts from the Report of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules (Part 1 of this report presents action items and the second a side-by-side comparison of the old and amended rules).

It is important to remember, though, that these changes are merely stylistic in nature as an aid to their use and implementation. The amendments are not and should not be construed to affect the substantive meaning of the rules themselves. Rule 86 addresses this very point by including a provision that the restyled Rules are not to be treated as superseding existing laws. Likewise, the Rule's Advisory Committee Notes appending each of the restyled rules state the same, i.e. "These changes are intended to be stylistic only."

Among the recently updated print resources incorporating the 2007 style amendments to be found in the library include:

Federal Civil Rules Handbook. St. Paul, Minn. : West Pub. Co.
Location: Reserve Collection KF/8816/A195/2008 (24 hour loan)

Moore's Federal Rules Pamphlet in 4 parts (see Part 1 for F.R.C.P.). New York, NY : Matthew Bender, 1997-
Location: Reserve Collection KF/8840/M642/Rules/Pt.1-4/2008 (24 hour loan)

Moore's Federal Practice. 3rd ed. New York, NY : Matthew Bender, 1997-
Volumes 1-14 have been completed revised to reflect the new changes.
Location: Quarles & Brady Reading Room, 5th Floor East, section 57 (non-circulating)

[Originally posted in the UW Law School Newsletter. Written by my colleague, Eric Taylor.]