Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Florida Civil Procedure E-Discovery rules still in the works

Florida Civil Procedure E-Discovery rules for state court were discussed at the 2010 Florida Bar Annual Meeting and at the Florida Bar Business Law Section (BLS) annual retreat.

The Civil Rules E-Discovery subcommittee continues to liaise with the BLS group to harmonize draft language with the current federal rules in order to better take advantage of the developing body of case law in that area since 2006.

The Computer and Technology Law Committee of the BLS has approved proposed changes made by its own e-discovery subcommittee, but awaits approval from the Intellectual Property and Business Litigation Committees. The final recommendations will go to the BLS Executive Council for approval in 2011. BLS will then make its formal recommendations to the full Civil Rules Standing Committee.

The proposed amendments are to Rules 1.200, 1.280, 1.350 and 1.410 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. There was also a draft form litigation hold letter 1.9XX [proposed as a baseline pre-suit request] which was ultimately not addressed.

Civil Rules has already approved in concept those changes found in its June 2010 report for Rule 1.200. The change mirrors the complex litigation Rule 1.201 language implemented by the Florida Supreme Court in 2009, in order to include ESI as a topic of discussion at Case Management (the possibility of obtaining admissions of fact and voluntary exchange of documents and electronically stored information, stipulations regarding authenticity of documents, electronically stored information, and the need for advance rulings from the court on admissibility of evidence).

Of particular significance, consistent with other states adopting areas of federal rule concepts into state practice, the full Civil Rules committee has consistently refused to endorse a mandatory meet and confer à la federal Rule 26 for state practitioners. See the June 2010 report on the Florida Bar's website under Civil Rules Standing Committee for a history of the process to date, including reference to complex litigation division / business court rules already in effect in Tampa.

Without Supreme Court of Florida intervention, the next available regular rule cycle change for Civil Rules in Florida is not until 2013.