An important decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will affect the way civil cases are filed. Beginning Dec. 1, electronic service for cases filed in civil court will no longer be eligible for the three-day grace period once allowed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 6(d).
Earlier this year, SCOTUS approved amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure proposed by the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules (Advisory Committee). A key amendment to Rule 6(d) removed subparagraph (E) or “service by electronic means” as a method of service that benefits from additional time (a three-day grace period).
In 2001, Rule 5(b)(2) was amended to allow people involved in civil court proceedings to capitalize on the rapidly evolving electronic transmission technology. The Rule expanded to include “service by electronic means” (or Rule 5(b)(2)(E)) as an acceptable method of service. Yet, practitioners were concerned about the reliability of the transmissions. Recognizing both the benefits and the apprehension to employ new technology, SCOTUS also approved including the new method of service as one that allows for a three-day grace period.
However, based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, SCOTUS agreed there was no longer a need to allow additional time for “service by electronic means.” First, as technology improved it reduced the concerns about its reliability as a method of service. Also, in an effort to make computing time easier, rule changes adopting 7-, 14-, 21-, and 28-day periods have been approved since 2001. These changes allow day-of-the-week counting, but by adding three days the computing time is once again complicated.
The Advisory Committee noted that consent to electronic service will not be covered by subparagraph (F) or service ‘by any other means’ of delivery.” However, it recognized that extensions of time may be necessary in order to prevent prejudice such as when electronic service occurs after business hours or just before or during a weekend or holiday.
For additional information about this change or other 2016 amendments, visit Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 2016 Edition online.