Rules of Civil Procedure

Rules of Civil Procedure  Civil Procedure Rule 57: Declaratory judgment

Effective Date: 07/01/1974

Table of Contents

Rule 57

The procedure for obtaining a declaratory judgment pursuant to General Laws c. 231A shall be in accordance with these rules, and the right to trial by jury may be demanded under the circumstances and in the manner provided in Rules 38 and 39. The existence of another adequate remedy does not preclude a judgment for declaratory relief in cases where it is appropriate. The court may order a speedy hearing of an action for a declaratory judgment and may advance it on the calendar.

Reporter's notes

(1996) With the merger of the District Court rules into the Mass.R.Civ.P., minor differences which had existed between Mass.R.Civ.P. 57 and Dist./Mun.Cts.R.Civ.P. 57 have been eliminated.

(1973) G.L. c. 231A is the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act with minor changes and additions. Rule 57, specifically referring to the statute, does not effect any essential change in Massachusetts practice. The main thrust of Rule 57 is that actions for declaratory judgment are to be brought in accordance with the Rules. Although the statute is quite detailed procedurally (see, e.g., G.L. c. 231A, §§ 7 and 8 dealing respectively with costs and necessary parties), the specificity of the Act should cause no conflict with the Rules.

The abolition, by Rule 2, of the distinction between law and equity requires only verbal adjustment of prior practice. The rule (S.J.C. Rule 2:23) prohibiting the plaintiffs attorney in a declaratory judgment proceeding from representing the defendant remains unchanged. The last sentence of Rule 57 specifically authorizes priority trial treatment for declaratory judgment actions. It does not materially alter the assignment judge's power (see Super.Ct. Rules 59 and 68); and it makes clear to bench and bar that declaratory judgment proceedings, which by their nature frequently require summary disposition, may receive whatever special treatment they need.

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