The sixth-month public comment period for the proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is coming to a close this week.
The proposed changes, which include amendments to rules 1, 4, 16, 26, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, and 37, are the subject of considerable public interest. So far,three public hearings have been held and over 650 comments have been submitted on the changes.
Some of the more controversial proposals include changes to discovery rules and Rule 37 on preservation and sanctions.
The scope of discovery under Rule 26(b)(1) would be narrowed to require that discovery be “proportional to the needs of the case considering the amount in controversy, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the parties’ resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.”
Under amended Rule 30, the presumptive limit on the number of depositions would be reduced from ten to five, while the maximum length for a deposition falls from seven to six hours. The committee also proposes reducing the limit on the number of interrogatories from 25 to 15 [Rule 33] and adding a limit of 25 for requests for admission [Rule 36].
The proposals also seek to adopt a uniform standard for the imposition of sanctions when a party fails to preserve discoverable information. Under amended Rule 37, sanctions would be ordered only if the failure to preserve was willful or in bad faith and caused substantial prejudice in the litigation in all but very exceptional cases where failure to preserve “irreparably deprived a party of any meaningful opportunity to present or defend against the claims in the litigation.”
If approved, the proposed amendments would become effective December 1, 2015.