Federal Rules of Civil Procedure - CivlProcedure.info Logo

What is Civil Procedure?


Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the process that courts will follow when hearing cases of a civil nature (a "civil action", as opposed to a criminal action). These rules govern how a lawsuit or case may be commenced, what kind of service of process is required, the types of pleadings or statements of case, motions or applications, and orders allowed in civil cases, the timing and manner of depositions and discovery or disclosure, the conduct of trials, the process for judgment, various available remedies, and how the courts and clerks must function.

The United States federal court system adopted standardized Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on September 16, 1938, before which time there were varying rules that governed different types of civil cases such as cases at law or in equity or in admiralty. (These differences grew from the history of "law" and "equity" as separate court systems in English law.) There are exceptions to the types of cases that the Federal Rules now control but they are few in number and somewhat esoteric (e.g., "prize proceedings in admiralty"). Most states have also adopted the Federal Rules (with various minor modifications) to govern procedures in their state court systems.

California is the odd exception in that its homegrown civil procedure system is enshrined in statutory law (the Code of Civil Procedure), not in rules promulgated by the state supreme court or the state bar association.

The civil courts of England and Wales adopted an overwhelmingly unified body of rules as a result of the Woolf Reforms on 26 April 1999. These are collectively known as the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 and in all but some very confined areas replaced the older Rules of the Supreme Court (applicable to the High Court of Justice) and the County Court Rules.

In Canada the rules of civil procedure are administered by the provinces and thus each province has its own set of rules. Most provinces base their civil procedure rules on the mixture of English and American rules adapted to the needs of the province.

Alternative dispute resolution proceedings and administrative law proceedings both tend to have relatively simple rules of procedure, in comparison to the highly formalized procedures seen in the federal and state courts.


Civil procedure. (2007, March 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:15, March 26, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Civil_procedure&oldid=116773731



CivilProcedure.info is a site where you can find the Rules of Civil Procedure for all fifty states, plus Washington DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Though our site is geared toward Rules of Civil Procedure pertaining primarily to process serving, we offer links to official state, government, and court websites to view the full text of the Rules of Civil Procedure there.


Resources for additional information:

Process Servers, Process Service Directory

A Process Server Directory