Appointing Neutrals

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedures (FRCP) Rule 53 provides the authority for appointment of a master and outlines the specific requirements. Many states have their own rules and requirements related to appointing masters. The Academy of Court-Appointed Neutrals ("ACAN") is the leading voice in the profession and changed its name from "Academy of Court-Appointed Masters", stating Court-Appointed "Neutral" better describes the incredibly diverse profession and appointments that can occur. However, neutrals appointed in accordance with FRCP Rule 53 and in many states are still referred to as "masters".

A sample order for appointing a special master is available for download from the Documents page.

FRCP Rule 53 Requirement Highlights

The following are the key highlights that should be in an appointment order under Rule 53. Refer to the complete FRCP Rule 53 for additional information. The appointing order must:
  • Direct the master to proceed with all reasonable diligence. Rule 53(b)(2)
  • Define the master's duties, including any investigation or enforcement duties and any limits on the master's authority. Rule 53(b)(2)(A)
  • Identify circumstances, if any, in which the master may communicate ex parte with the court or a party. Rule 53(b)(2)(B)
  • List materials to be preserved and filed as the record of the master's activities. Rule 53(b)(2)(C)
  • Describe time limits, method of filing the record, other procedures and standards for reviewing the master's orders, findings, and recommendations. Rule 53(b)(2)(D)
  • Describe the terms for compensation. Rule 53(b)(2)(E)