Thursday, July 19, 2007

For my fellow lawyers - federal rules

Well, maybe not for just the lawyers. Findlaw has an interesting article on the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Interesting for the history (not much of which was taught in law school) of the federal rules and interesting for some of the problems with the revised rules.

One problem discussed is supersession:

The Rules Advisory Committee has addressed this contingency in the new version of Rule 86(b), which expressly states that for supersession purposes, the effective date of re-styled Rules shall be the date of the last substantive change to that amendment. However, it is not clear that a federal Rule can change its effective date by fiat. The Supersession Clause of the Rules Enabling Act makes supersession turn on the date that a Rule takes effect, not the date that a Rule says it should be deemed to take effect. And in a conflict between the Rules Enabling Act and the Federal Rules, the Enabling Act prevails, because the supersession clause does not (and logically cannot) apply to itself.

I find the other problem more interesting: the confusion caused by simplification. As I get older, I find myself less and less amenable to change. Therefore, this part of the article attracts me. The author puts the problem as:
But if the re-styling project will not create supersession problems, it may nonetheless lead to confusion. What happens when circumstances arise in which the meaning of a re-styled Rule appears to conflict with the meaning of the old version of the Rule?
A bit far afield from much I write about on this blog but I think the whole article worth going back and reading in full.