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Recent Amendments to Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure 23

Effective May 1, 2021, the Alabama Supreme Court approved several modest, but important, amendments to Rule 23 regarding class actions. The amendments are intended to conform Rule 23 to current practice and with Ala. Code §§ 6-5-640 through -642.

AIM President & Claims Counsel Sharon Stuart is on the Rules Committee and offers the below summary of the changes:

  • Rule 23(c)(1) was amended to make clear that the court shall decide whether an action should be maintained as a class “at an early practical time, consistent with Alabama statutory law”, replacing the rather vague “as soon as practicable” language from the prior version.

  • Rule 23(c)(1) was amended to eliminate the reference to “conditional” certification – certification must fully comply with Rule 23 and Ala. Code § 6-5-641.

  • The amendments update the notice provisions of Rule 23(c)(2) and (1) to clarify that the trial court has the discretion to require notice in actions brought under Rule 23(b)(1) or (2), and to recognize, consistent with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the modern possibility of using non-traditional notice methods due to technological change. While first-class mail may still be preferred in many cases, new technology may provide more effective notice in some situations. When determining whether to order alternative notice methods, the court should consider whether class members have access to such technology.

  • Amended Rule 23(e) makes clear that court approval is required for dismissal only after a class has been certified, consistent with current practice and the Federal Rules.

  • The District Court Comments were deleted as unnecessary since class actions don’t exist in district court.

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