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The Restyling of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: A Solution in Search of a Problem
Washington University, Slip Opinions (2007)
  • Rory M Ryan
  • Jeremy Counseller
Abstract

In the context of legal rules, clarifying language while holding meaning constant, even if possible, provides little benefit and thus outweighs only the lightest of burdens. Amending to clarify for clarity’s sake is like sharpening a knife without changing the way it cuts—quite a technical feat, but probably not worth doing in the first place, especially if there is a risk that the cosmetic improvements will create cutting problems later. The goal should be clarity of law, not clarity of words. We want clear language because we want the rules to have clear meanings because clear meanings make for good results. If the Advisory Committee has only succeeded in giving us clearer language without clarifying meaning and improving results, then the restyling exercise was a waste of time. If, on the other hand, the amendments clarify meaning (i.e., change meaning by, at a minimum, choosing one of two or more possible meanings), then we should, as Professor Hartnett suggests (discussed below), reconsider each amendment on its merits.

Disciplines
Publication Date
November, 2007
Citation Information
Rory M Ryan and Jeremy Counseller. "The Restyling of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: A Solution in Search of a Problem" Washington University, Slip Opinions (2007)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/rory_ryan/5/