New Rule Change – Service By Email

Rule 5 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure was amended to permit papers to be served on attorneys of parties via electronic mail.   Here the language added to Rule 5 to accomplish that result:

(2)(a) Service upon any attorney may also be made by sending him or her the document in Adobe PDF format to the attorney’s email address, which shall be promptly furnished on request. The sender shall include language in the subject line designed to alert the recipient that a document is being served under this rule. On the date that a document served under this rule is electronically sent to an attorney, the sender shall send by mail, facsimile or hand-delivery a certificate that advises that a document has been transmitted electronically. The certificate shall state the caption of the action; the trial court file number; the title of the transmitted document; the number of pages of the transmitted document (including all exhibits thereto); the sender’s name, address, telephone number and electronic mail address; the electronic mail address of each recipient; and the date and time of the transmission. The certificate shall also include words to this effect: "If you did not receive this document, please contact the sender immediately to receive an electronic or physical copy of this document." The certificate shall be sent to all counsel of record.

(b) An attorney who sends a document to another attorney electronically and who is notified that it was not received must promptly furnish a copy of the document to the attorney who did not receive it.

(c) A document transmitted electronically shall be treated as a document that was mailed for purposes of computation of time under Rule 6.

(d) For good cause shown, an attorney may obtain a court order prohibiting service of documents on that attorney by electronic mail and requiring that all documents be served under subsection (1).

To be sure, the method of serving papers electronically is more cumbersome that the method used under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  However, the Rules Commission was concerned that many lawyers did not have confidence in service by email and thus adopted a "belt and suspenders approach" that required the contemporaneous mailing of a notice of service.

I suspect that the mailed-notice requirement will be dissolved in five years or less.