New Year, New Rules Amendments

Must and document. Those two words summarize the latest amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The amendments change 16 different rules and introduce a new rule 1.545 dealing only with the Final Disposition Form. The full list of edited rules is below and has been updated with all of the changes, which became effective January 1st.

While covering a lot of ground, the amendments are almost entirely directed toward updating and replacing four words used widely throughout the rules – ‘document’ replaces ‘paper,’ ‘must’ replaces ‘shall,’ ‘on’ replaces ‘upon,’ and ‘immediately’ replaces ‘forthwith.’

The first change, document instead of paper, is obvious. With electronic filing, the reference to paper was archaic. We all knew that the term paper also referred to electronic documents, but the change makes it clear. A document is specifically defined in the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, Rule 2.520(d), as “pleadings, motions, petitions, memoranda, briefs, notices, exhibits, declarations, affidavits, orders, judgments, decrees, writs, opinions, and any paper or writing submitted to a court.”

The other changes are directed at the same goal, replacing purportedly archaic words. However, at least for shall and upon, it is not clear that the words are actually past their use by date. Judging by filings in my cases, the terms shall and upon are still in regular use by parties and courts across the state. I have not seen a forthwith used in quite some time. Lawyers are loathe to drop a useful word, so time will tell whether these terms are actually headed for the linguistic dust bin.

Revised Rules:

1.020 (Privacy and Court Records);
1.071 (Constitutional Challenge to State Statute or County or Municipal Charter, Ordinance, or Franchise; Notice by Party);
1.100 (Pleadings and Motions);
1.130 (Attaching Copy of Cause of Action and Exhibits);
1.140 (Defenses);
1.170 (Counterclaims and Crossclaims);
1.200 (Pretrial Procedure);
1.310 (Depositions Upon Oral Examination);
1.320 (Depositions Upon Written Questions);
1.340 (Interrogatories to Parties);
1.410 (Subpoena);
1.431 (Trial Jury);
1.500 (Defaults and Final Judgments Thereon);
1.510 (Summary Judgment);
1.625 (Proceedings Against Surety on Judicial Bonds); and
1.630 (Extraordinary Remedies);

New Rule:

1.545 (Final Disposition Form).

In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Case No. SC16-155 (Fla. Sept. 1, 2016).