Federal Rule 5 – Proposed Amendments

The Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States is proposing a change to Federal Rule 5, among others.  This is really the only change that could potentially affect process servers.

My local court (USDC, ND Cal) requires mandatory efiling.  This proposed amendment would mandate it in all federal courts throughout the country, and not rely on local rules.  Pro se litigants will be exempt from efiling.  A proof of service of a summons, application for a writ of attachment, etc. will all have to be filed electronically by the lawyer. This may affect process servers.  If approved, the changes will go into effect on December 1, 2018, with or without revision.

The amendment retains the ability to personally serve opposing counsel, but allows for service of notice on a consenting registered party by electronic means. Any documents to be filed, subsequent to the complaint, will require efiling.

A comment to the proposal explains why this rule is being amended:

Provision for electronic service was first made when electronic communication was not as widespread or as fully reliable as it is now. Consent of the person served to receive service by electronic means was required as a safeguard. Those concerns have substantially diminished, but have not disappeared entirely, particularly as to persons not represented by an attorney.

Here is a link to the new proposal.  See page 203, et seq.