Rule 11. Signing of Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers; Representations to Court; Sanctions

Advisory Commission Comments to Rules 11.01-11.04

Advisory Commission Comments


Rule 11 makes it an absolute requirement that the attorney, if any, sign, and makes the signature, in effect, the attorney’s statement that the pleading is filed in good faith. Rule 11 does not abrogate statutes which require that pleadings be verified or accompanied by affidavit.

The [1987] revision includes motions and “other papers” as well as pleadings. Significantly, an attorney’s belief that a court filing is well-founded must be a belief “formed after reasonable inquiry.” The amended wording therefore imposes an objective reasonable lawyer standard of inquiry. What inquiry is reasonable, of course, necessarily must depend on particular facts. If a client retains a lawyer on the eve of expiration of a statute of limitations, a reasonable inquiry must be performed in view of the exigencies of the situation. [1987.]

Advisory Commission Comment [1995]

Amended Rule 11 tracks the current federal version. Sanctions no longer are mandatory, and non-monetary sanctions are encouraged. The 21-day safe harbor provision allows otherwise sanctionable papers to be withdrawn, thereby escaping sanctions.

Tennessee courts have not seen the widespread abuse of sanctions law experienced by federal courts under the previous rule. See Andrews v. Bible, 812 S.W.2d 284 (Tenn. 1991). Nonetheless, the amended language should prevent potential future abuse.

Advisory Commission Comment [1999]

11.01. A lawyer must place his or her Board of Professional Responsibility number on court papers.

Advisory Commission Comment [2003]

A spelling error is corrected in Rule 11.03(2); there is no substantive change.

Advisory Commission Comment [2012]

Rule 11.01 is amended to add new paragraphs (b) and (c), concerning an attorney’s limited scope representation of a client. An attorney’s obligations under this Rule of Civil Procedure are also governed by Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 8, RPC 1.2(c), which states. “A lawyer may limit the scope of representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent, preferably in writing.” See also Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 8, RPC 1.2(c), Comments [6] – [8]. Note, however, that paragraph (b) of this Rule goes further than RPC 1.2(c) and requires that an agreement for limited scope representation, as it relates to a proceeding governed by this Rule, must be in writing.

Nothing in this rule prohibits an attorney providing limited scope representation from withdrawing with leave of the court prior to completion of the terms set forth in the limited scope representation agreement

Advisory Commission Comment [2021]

Rule 11.01(a) is amended to require that every pleading, written motion, and other paper shall include the signer’s e-mail address.  Providing an e-mail address is useful but does not of itself signify consent to filing or service by e-mail.


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