Federal Rules of Civil Procedure-Rule 19 and Indispensable Parties

The reformulation of compulsory joinder rules, urged by commentators for a decade, has been realized with the 1966 amendment to rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Prior to the amendment, courts consistently held that the absence from the lawsuit of persons who were “indispensable” deprived the court of power to adjudicate the action. The amendment to rule 19 is an effort to establish a methodology which requires a practical consideration of the factual situation at hand when determining the propriety of permitting a case to continue even though certain parties are not joined. A brief look at the nature and source of the “indispensability of parties” doctrine is needed in order that the purposes of rule 19 and its supposed effects may be more easily understood.