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Massachusetts Small Claims Court Rules Changes in Boston Municipal Court

The Boston Municipal Court, and all Massachusetts District and Housing Courts have implemented important changes to small-claims procedure effective October 1, 2009. The Law Office of Neil Burns knows the importance of keeping up to date with rules, practices and procedures. These changes create new burdens and, in some instances, pose dangers for small-claims plaintiffs.

The small-claims procedural changes were intended to give more protection to small-claims defendants. They include requiring plaintiffs (1) in all small-claims cases to provide more information in the initial small-claims Statement of Small Claim form and (2) in small-claims debt collection cases to provide details about the debt and to file a new additional form. Thus, in all small-claims cases, plaintiffs must now list “any amounts sought for damages, for multiple damages or statutory penalties, for attorneys’ fees and for costs, as well as the total amount being sought, exclusive of any prejudgment interest being sought from the court pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 231, Sections 6B or 6C.” Rule 2(a), Uniform Small Claims Rules.
 
There have also been changes regarding debt collection cases, specifically: (1) cases in which the plaintiff is “pursuing a claim incurred in the course of plaintiff’s trade or commerce” (with those terms having the same meaning as in the consumer protection law, Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 93A, §1) and (2) cases in which the plaintiff is “pursuing a claim for assigned debt,” i.e., where the plaintiff’s right to collect the debt has been obtained by assignment. Rule 2(b), Uniform Small Claims Rules.
 
If you are being sued in Small Claims Court, then as the defendant, the new rules provide additional ways to defend your claim, and also provide possible grounds for dismissal or for other relief. A helpful guide to Small Claims Court procedure can be found online.
 
Boston Attorney Neil Burns has practiced law in Massachusetts for over 24 years. He is dedicated to providing effective legal information to the Boston, Massachusetts community.