eDiscovery Daily Blog

State eDiscovery Rules: Florida Moves to Adopt New Civil Procedure Rules on eDiscovery

 

Florida is currently preparing to adopt a set of changes to its Rules of Civil Procedure with regard to discovery of ESI, closely founded on the changes made to the Federal Rules in 2006. Based on the recommendation of the Florida Civil Rules Electronic Discovery Subcommittee, the full Rules Committee voted on implementing changes now rather than waiting until 2013 when these rules would normally be considered.

Florida eDiscovery Rules to Mimic Federal Rules – Mostly

On July 29, the Board of Governors of the Florida Bar accepted the plan to adopt changes as soon as this fall – changes that essentially copy those made to the Federal Rules except for the elimination of the Federal Rule 26(f) "meet and confer" conference, which will not be considered a mandatory part of discovery of ESI by Florida courts.

However, since this type of early conference is required by circuit courts in Miami, Orland and Tampa – three of Florida's largest judicial areas – that should minimize the risk that issues of major importance regarding eDiscovery will be overlooked, at least in many major business cases. What's more, Florida has a special rule that mandates early conferences in cases that are considered "complex".

New Florida Rules

The new rules are expected to have a significant positive effect on Florida courts, for several reasons:

  • The near-duplication of current federal rules for eDiscovery provides Florida courts with much-needed guidance on the role and implications of ESI in discovery.
  • It creates consistency between federal and state rules, important where national corporations may be involved in cases in Florida.
  • It also enables Florida courts to rely on federal precedent, preventing Florida lawyers from the need to "reinvent the wheel," and allowing them to draw on federal decisions and judgments.
  • Finally, the similarities between the new Florida rules and existing federal rules will prevent plaintiffs from "shopping" courts depending on the rules and regulations assigned to eDiscovery.

With the improvement in clarity of eDiscovery procedures and the strong connection between state and federal rules, these amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure seem poised to make discovery proceedings simpler and easier in the sunshine state.

So, what do you think? Are the changes to Florida's eDiscovery procedures positive? Is the omission of something like Federal Rule 26(f) a serious problem, or is it insignificant? Please share any comments you might have or if you'd like to know more about a particular topic.





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