As promised last week, here are highlights of the substantive changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that went into effect last Saturday, December 1st:*
- New Rule 5.2 Privacy Protection This rule limits what personal information can be left in public pleadings without redaction, unless a court orders the information to be publicly filed. Public filings may only include: the last four digits of a social security number, tax identification number or other financial account number; the year of a person’s birth; and the initials of known minors (not whole names). All other information must be redacted or left out of the papers.
- Rule 11 Signing Pleadings Signature blocks on all filings must now include an email address, in addition to counsel’s or a pro se party’s phone number and physical address. The comments to Rule 11 note that inclusion of an email address is a courtesy and is not an automatic consent to email service. For that, you still have to get a separate agreement with the opposing party.
- Rule 26 Discovery As with Rule 11, signature blocks on all discovery papers must now include an email address, in addition to counsel’s or a pro se party’s phone number and physical address. The comments to Rule 26 note that if a party lacks an email address, a physical address or a telephone number, the party need not supply the nonexistent information. So, at least Rule 26 does not require that counsel get email accounts. But Rule 11 does not have the same exception, so arguably Rule 11 does require that counsel have email accounts.
* This is only a summary of the substantive changes that I found most interesting or important. It is not a detailed explanation of all substantive changes. For example, I did not explain the changes to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 regarding summonses. If you want detailed advice regarding the Federal Rules, please consult your attorney or dig in to your copy of the Federal Rules.