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Changes to Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
- 12/10/2009

On December 1, 2009, changes to Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect concerning the computation of due dates set as a number of days from a particular event.  The new rule resolves the dichotomy between periods that were 10 days or shorter, and those that are longer than 10 days.  The amendments to the rule are also intended to harmonize the method of calculating periods among the Civil, Criminal, Appellate and Bankruptcy Rules.

Under the previous rules, when a period was set to 10 days or less, intervening Saturdays, Sundays, or Holidays were not counted in that period.  No such allowance was made for longer periods.  This led to the unusual situation that a 10-day period was most often 14 calendar days, but occasionally could run longer than a corresponding provision that set an explicit 14-day period.  In any event, the determination of a precise due date for periods of 10 days or less could not be made without specific reference to a calendar for any possible intervening holidays. 

To resolve this dichotomy, the Time-Computation Subcommittee of the Judicial Conference adopted a “days are days” approach.  Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 6, effective from December 1, 2009, every day after the event which gives rise to a particular period is counted, with no allowance made for intervening Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.  If the period would then expire on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, it is automatically extended to the next day not a Saturday, Sunday or holiday.

In connection with the implementation of the revision to Rule 6 for computing time, the Southern and Eastern Districts for New York have Amended their combined Local Rules to account for this change.  In most cases, periods set for 5 or 10 days under the previous Rule 6 were extended to 7 or 14 days under the Amended Rule 6.  In most circumstances, the net result was to have the period run for the same nominal time, without the need for a specific computation or ambiguity arising from differing holidays from one week to another, etc.  For a comprehensive summary of amendments to the time periods set in the Local Rules of the Southern and Eastern District of New York click here.