The Civil Rules Advisory Committee: From Proposed Rule Amendments to Federal Pilot Projects

The 640-page Agenda Book reflects the broad range of matters currently being tackled by the federal Civil Rules Advisory Committee, which met in Washington, D.C., on April 9. Issues include the proposed rule amendments currently before the Supreme Court, the development of federal pilot projects, and a multitude of topics in-between. The Committee continues to await approval of the proposed amendments from the Supreme Court, which has until May 1, 2015, to consider the proposals and officially promulgate the revised rules.

The Rules Committee considered a report from the Rule 23 Subcommittee, including “sketches” of possible amendments to the rule on class actions. The Subcommittee’s intent is to present drafts for possible amendments to the full Rules Committee at the upcoming fall meeting, following a September mini-conference, although the Subcommittee made clear in its report in the Agenda Book that “there is no assurance that the Subcommittee will ultimately recommend any amendments.”

The Rules Committee also heard a report from the Discovery Subcommittee on “Requester Pays” issues. While the Discovery Subcommittee is not recommending further rulemaking at this time, this topic remains on the Subcommittee’s agenda.

The Rules Committee discussed future federal pilot projects and formed a subcommittee to look at state and federal examples and consider what pilot projects would be of benefit to the federal courts. The discussion recognized that pilot projects provide a powerful way to change norms, while also providing data to support future reforms.