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Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)

Rules governing civil proceedings in the U.S. Federal Court system.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) are the procedural rules that all parties must follow in U.S. Federal trial courts (the U.S. district courts). The rules first went into effect on September 16, 1938, and have since been revised many times over the years to keep up with the pace of changes in culture, the law and technology. Over the past twenty years, there have been two major revisions related to technology and the use of electronic evidence as a part of Federal trials.

The first rule, Rule 1, of the FRCP sets out the purpose of the rules, “…to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every [civil] action and proceeding” in district courts and are a cornerstone to how civil proceedings are carried out and the primary subject matter of Civil Procedure, a foundational class for first-year law school students.

How does the FRCP relate to eDiscovery?

The FRCP, and specifically certain sections, are directly related to eDiscovery and can be said to be the driver of specific aspects of the field of eDiscovery over the past two decades. Rules related to document preservation, production protocols and use of digital evidence have all formed the manner in which eDiscovery processes and software have been designed and implemented.

In recent times, the FRCP also changed the definition of “document” to include all electronically stored information thus clarifying for legal practitioners what digital objects constitute a document in the eyes of the law.