Court adopts limited appearance rule for civil proceedings

Court adopts limited appearance rule for civil proceedings

The Supreme Court has created a procedure for an attorney to appear in a limited manner in civil proceedings.

Acting December 7 in Case No. SC2023-0361, the court adopted Rule of Civil Procedure 1.041, authorizing lawyers to file a notice limiting the attorney’s appearance to particular proceedings or specified matters prior to any appearance before the court.

“It also explains that during the attorney’s limited appearance, all pleadings must be served on all parties, including the limited appearance attorney,” the court said. “A limited appearance attorney who receives notice of a hearing that is outside the scope of representation must file a notice stating the matter is outside the scope of representation and that the attorney will not attend the court proceeding or hearing.”

The rule also provides that termination of a limited appearance must be in accordance with Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.505.

In March, the Board of Governors voted overwhelmingly to recommend acceptance of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee proposal to adopt a rule providing for limited appearance attorneys, with now-President Scott Westheimer saying it would promote greater access to the courts and reminding the board that the Supreme Court’s Special Committee to Improve the Delivery of Legal Services recommended better promotion of a Florida Bar rule that authorizes “unbundled legal services” in 2021.

The court also amended form 1.933 to ensure consistency with the standard jury instructions in contract and business cases and to require the plaintiff to indicate whether the plaintiff and defendant agreed to the balance on a specific date, or whether the plaintiff sent a statement to the defendant on a specific date and the defendant failed to object within a reasonable time after receiving the statement.

“Additionally, the plaintiff must indicate whether the defendant expressly promised to pay the plaintiff the balance due, or the defendant implicitly promised to pay the amount set forth in the statement,” the court said. “The note to form 1.933 is also amended to provide a general instruction that the plaintiff attach supporting documents as required under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.130.”

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