Massachusetts law about small claims

A compilation of laws, cases, and web sources on small claims law by the Trial Court Law Libraries

Table of Contents

Which claims can be brought as small claims?

$7000 Claims up to $7000 can be brought as small claims

From the Mass. District Court: 

"Unless your suit is based upon property damage sustained in an automobile accident, it cannot exceed $7,000.00. The claim may, however, be subject to statutory damages or attorney's fees in excess of $7,000.00 (e.g., consumer protection cases or certain landlord/tenant cases). In those cases, the base amount may not exceed $7,000.00 even though the potential award may exceed that amount."

Best bets

Self-help: Small claims, Mass. Trial Court
Includes information from BMC, District Court, and Housing Court.

Multilingual Videos Explaining the Small Claims Process, Mass. Trial Court. 
Steps you through the entire process in a series of 7 short videos. Available in English and 7 other languages.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.218, s.21-25, Small Claims Procedure

Rules and fees

Uniform Magistrate Rules: Rule 4: Mediation of Small Claims Actions, Mass. Trial Court
Guidelines for electing and utilizing mediation by a magistrate in small claims

Trial Court Rule III: Uniform Small Claims Court Rules, Mass. Trial Court, 2009

Boston Municipal Court and District Court filing fees, Mass. District Court
Fees (with surcharges) range from $40 to $150 depending on damages sought

Small Claims Standards, Mass. Trial Court, 2002 
Note: These standards were written before the Uniform Small Claims Rules and do not reflect current rules.


Small claims forms. Note: While many forms are available, the Statement of Small Claim form is not available on the web and must be picked up at the court. Forms are available in 7 languages in addition to English.

Selected cases

Schubach v. Household Finance Corporation, 375 Mass. 133 (1978).
"Intentionally filing collection actions against consumers in inconvenient distant courts, with the purpose and effect of securing default judgments and gaining unfair advantage," may be an unfair and deceptive act under c.93A, "even though the company filed its actions in compliance with c. 223, Section 2."

Web sources

Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court, Nolo, 2018
An overview on bringing a small claims case or defending yourself against one. Includes information on how to collect your money if you win, serving your papers, witnesses, getting ready for court, and more. Requires library card for access.

How to Win Your Case in Small Claims Court Without a Lawyer, Atlantic Publishing, 2009. Requires library card for access.

Small Claims Advisory Service
"Here you will find any information you need to learn more about small claims court, the relevant laws, and contact information to get further assistance from the SCAS organization." SCAS is a group of college undergraduates, not attorneys.

Small Claims Courts, Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs
Includes information on whether small claims court is right for you, what to consider before filing, and more

Suing Home Contractor for Construction Defects in Small Claims Court in Massachusetts,
Explains the process of bringing a contractor to small claims court, as well as other options to consider.

Report of the Small Claims Working Group, Mass. Trial Court, District Court Department, August 1, 2007 
After a 1-year study, group recommended changes in Uniform Small Claims Rules and Small Claims Standards, as well as a statutory change, in order to better protect debtors and "to promote understanding by, and ensure equal treatment of, all parties." Recommendations include changes to notice requirements and procedures, entry of default judgments, property seizures, and more.

Small Claims Can Require Big Decisions, by Marc G. Perlin and John M. Connors, 2012 
Article originally published in Mass. Lawyers Weekly addresses the question, "Despite its advantages in terms of simplified procedure, speed, and informality, are there reasons for a plaintiff to avoid the small claims forum?"

Print sources



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: October 1, 2018


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