News Notice: Mass. Rules of Civil Procedure 8.1 and 55.1 Standing Orders and Forms

Effective January 1, 2019
  • Executive Office of the Trial Court
  • Superior Court
  • District Court
  • Boston Municipal Court

In anticipation of the January 1, 2019 effective date of Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure 8.1 and 55.1, two new rules approved by the Supreme Judicial Court earlier this year, Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula M. Carey has promulgated a series of forms related to those rules and has issued Trial Court Standing Order 1-19 mandating their use as of the effective date of the new rules.

Rules 8.1 and 55.1 establish new requirements for claims to collect consumer debt arising from the use of certain revolving credit agreements (primarily credit card collection cases), and prevent non-complying plaintiffs from obtaining defaults or default judgments in such cases.  

Specifically, Rule 8.1 requires a plaintiff to file with the complaint detailed affidavits identifying the debt, documenting the debt, and verifying the defendant’s address; the rule also requires the plaintiff to file a certification concerning the statute of limitation applicable to the claim.

Counsel and plaintiffs completing these documents should be mindful of their obligation to ensure that any personal identifying information included in those documents be redacted before filing.       

The Trial Court has promulgated the following forms for mandatory use, linked below:

The forms linked above will be maintained on as .pdf fillable documents that can either be printed and filed as hard copies or filed electronically.

The Standing Order also refers to a court-generated Notice to Parties of Non-Entry of Default, Mass. R. Civ. P. 55.1(b)(2), which notifies parties in cases subject to Rule 8.1 when a request for default has been rejected for non-compliance with the new rules, and which also provides notice of the court’s impending dismissal of the action unless the plaintiff acts timely to show cause why it should not be dismissed. In addition, the Chief Justices of the Boston Municipal Court and the District Court have issued a Suspension of Joint Standing Order 2-15 regarding the Verification of Defendant’s Address for Claims Incurred in Trade or Commerce or Pursuing Assigned Debt. The suspension is necessary to avoid confusion when the new rules go into effect on January 1, 2019.

Finally linked here is a summary of implementation information distributed by Chief justice Carey to all court personnel in order to provide consistency in the procedures by which court personnel implement these two rules: Implementation of Mass. R. Civ. P. 8.1, Special Requirements for Certain Consumer Debts and Mass. R. Civ. P. 55.1, Special Requirements for Defaults and Default Judgments for Certain Consumer Debts.

Executive Office of the Trial Court 

The Executive Office of the Trial Court facilitates communication and enables joint leadership of the Trial Court by the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and the Court Administrator.

Superior Court 

The Superior Court Department is a statewide court that handles both criminal and civil actions.

District Court 

The District Court Department hears a wide range of criminal, civil, housing, juvenile, mental health, and other types of cases.

Boston Municipal Court 

The Boston Municipal Court Department serves the City of Boston, and handles both criminal and civil matters.