Usage notesA litigant is joined by a "notice of joinder". The substantive application is an "application for joinder"
Criminal lawJoinder in criminal law is a legal term which refers to the inclusion of additional counts or additional defendants on an indictment. In English law, charges for any offence may be joined in the same indictment if those charges are founded on the same facts, or form or are a part of a series of offences of the same or a similar nature. A number of defendants may be joined in the same indictment even if no single count applies to all of them, provided that the counts are sufficiently linked. The judge retains the option to order separate trials.
Joinder in civil law falls under two categories: joinder of claims, and joinder of parties. Joinder of claims is addressed in U.S. law by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure No. 18(a). That Rule allows claimants to consolidate all claims that they have against an individual who is already a party to the case. Claimants may bring new claims even if these new claims are not related to the claims already stated. Note that joinder of claims is never compulsory (i.e., joinder is always permissive), and that joinder of claims requires that the court's subject matter jurisdiction requirements regarding the new claims be met for each new claim.
Joinder of parties also falls into two categories: permissive joinder and compulsory joinder. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure No. 20 addresses permissive joinder. Permissive joinder allows multiple plaintiffs to join in an action if each of their claims arise from the same transaction or occurrence, and if there is a common question of law or fact relating to all plaintiffs' claims. Permissive joinder is also appropriate to join multiple defendants, as long as the same considerations as for joining multiple plaintiffs are met. Also, the court must have personal jurisdiction over every defendant joined in the action, as the court has no authority under Rule 20 to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.
Rules 18 and 20 have different effects depending on when they are invoked. If part of an original pleading, they will form part of the case. However, if the time for modifying the pleadings has passed, the pleading must be amended through application of the amending rule, 15a. There is a discretionary period during which original pleadings may be amended, that is as a matter of course at the beginning of trial, and later with the discretion of the opposing party or judge. Rules 18 and 20 delineate who can be joined. However, if not pleaded originally, parties can be brought in only by way of amendment. Rule 15 describes the process for amending a claim.
Under the concept of compulsory joinder, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 mandates that some parties be joined. Parties that must be joined are those necessary and indispensable to the litigation. Note, though, that while "necessary" parties must be joined if that joinder is possible, the litigation will continue without them if joinder is impossible. If "indispensable" parties cannot be joined, by contrast, the litigation cannot go forward.
Under Rule 42 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court, if actions involve a common question of law or fact, may join any or all issues, consolidate the actions or issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or delay. The court may also, for convenience, to avoid prejudice, or to expedite or improve economy, order a separate trial of one or more separate issues or claims.
- Yeazell, Stephen C., Federal Rules of Civil Procedure With Selected Statutes, Cases, and Other Materials. Aspen Publishers, 2007.