Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 137

As amended through January 26, 2021
Rule 137 - Signing of Pleadings, Motions and Other Documents-Sanctions
(a) Signature requirement/certification. Every pleading, motion and other document of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in his individual name, whose address shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign his pleading, motion, or other document and state his address. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading, motion or other document; that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good-faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation. If a pleading, motion, or other document is not signed, it shall be stricken unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the pleader or movant. If a pleading, motion, or other document is signed in violation of this rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, may impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay to the other party or parties the amount of reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion or other document, including a reasonable attorney fee.
(b)Procedure for Alleging Violations of This Rule. All proceedings under this rule shall be brought within the civil action in which the pleading, motion or other document referred to has been filed, and no violation or alleged violation of this rule shall give rise to a separate civil suit, but shall be considered a claim within the same civil action. Motions brought pursuant to this rule must be filed within 30 days of the entry of final judgment, or if a timely post-judgment motion is filed, within 30 days of the ruling on the post-judgment motion.
(c)Applicability to State Entities and Review of Administrative Determinations. This rule shall apply to the State of Illinois or any agency of the State in the same manner as any other party. Furthermore, where the litigation involves review of a determination of an administrative agency, the court may include in its award for expenses an amount to compensate a party for costs actually incurred by that party in contesting on the administrative level an allegation or denial made by the State without reasonable cause and found to be untrue.
(d) Required Written Explanation of Imposition of Sanctions. Where a sanction is imposed under this rule, the judge shall set forth with specificity the reasons and basis of any sanction so imposed either in the judgment order itself or in a separate written order.
(e) Attorney Assistance Not Requiring an Appearance or Signature. An attorney may assist a self-represented person in drafting or reviewing a pleading, motion, or other document without making a general or limited scope appearance. Such assistance does not constitute either a general or limited scope appearance by the attorney. The self-represented person shall sign the pleading, motion, or other paper. An attorney providing drafting or reviewing assistance may rely on the selfrepresented person's representation of facts without further investigation by the attorney, unless the attorney knows that such representations are false.

Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 137

Adopted June 19, 1989, eff. Aug. 1, 1989; amended Dec. 17, 1993, eff. Feb. 1, 1994; amended Jan. 4, 2013, eff. immediately; amended June 14, 2013, eff. July 1, 2013; amended Dec. 29, 2017, eff. Jan. 1, 2018.

Committee Comments

(June 14, 2013)

Under Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(c), an attorney may limit the scope of a representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent. Such a limited scope representation may include providing advice to a party regarding the drafting of a pleading, motion or other paper, or reviewing a pleading, motion or other paper drafted by a party, without filing a general or limited scope appearance. In such circumstances, an attorney is not required to sign or otherwise note the attorney's involvement and the certification requirements in Rule 137 are inapplicable. Moreover, even if an attorney is identified in connection with such a limited scope representation, the attorney will not be deemed to have made a general or limited scope appearance.

Consistent with the limited scope of services envisioned under this drafting and reviewing function, attorneys may rely on the representation of facts provided by the self-represented person. This rule applies, for example, to an attorney who advises a caller to a legal aid telephone hotline regarding the completion of a form pleading, motion or other paper or an attorney providing information at a pro bono clinic.

All obligations under Rule 137 with respect to signing pleadings and certifications apply fully in those limited scope representations where an attorney has filed a general or limited scope appearance. Drafting a pleading, motion or other paper, or reviewing a pleading, motion or paper drafted by a party does not establish any independent responsibility not already applicable under current law.

Commentary

(December 17, 1993)

The rule is modified to clarify when motions for sanctions must be filed.

Committee Comments

(August 1, 1989)

The Supreme Court has adopted Rule 137, effective August 1, 1989. Rule 137 will require all pleadings and papers to be signed by an attorney of record or by a party, if the party is not represented by an attorney, and (treating such signature as a certification that the paper has been read, that after reasonable inquiry it is well-grounded in fact and law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, etc.) the rule authorizes the trial courts to impose certain sanctions for violations of the rule. Rule 137 preempts all matters sought to be covered by section 2-611 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Unlike section 2-611, Rule 137 allows but does not require the imposition of sanctions. Unlike section 2-611, Rule 137 requires a trial judge who imposes sanctions to set forth with specificity the reasons and basis of any sanction in a separate written order. Unlike section 2-611, Rule 137 does not make special provisions concerning the potential exposure to sanctions of insurance companies that might employ attorneys.