Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1


Rule 1. Scope and Purpose

These rules govern the procedure in all civil actions and proceedings in the United State, except as stated in Rule 81. They should be construed, administered, and employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.


Essential Points

What's a civil action?

A lawsuit. Civil actions are the opposite of criminal cases where the government prosecutes a person for a crime.

What's a district court?

A federal trial level court. Federal trial level courts are called United States District Courts. There is a federal district court in each state. The federal rules of civil procedure govern cases in the district courts. There are different rules for appellate level cases.

Just, speedy, and inexpensive?

Consider this in a historical context. For hundreds of years, tracing back to court proceedings in England, people expressed frustration at the technical nature of civil court proceedings that seemed to reward gamesmanship and attorney tricks at the expense of litigants. Instead of efficiently resolving cases, court proceedings would drag on at great cost (think of the Charles Dickens novel Bleak House). Meritorious cases could be dismissed simply because of a drafting error or other technicality. The federal rules of civil procedure were intended to allow cases to commence without intricate pleading requirements so the cases could be resolved on their merits. Obviously there is considerable dispute as to whether US federal courts achieved these objectives.