Monday, August 20, 2007

Small Claims Reform

A report just issued by the Small Claims Working Group of the Mass. District Court contains several key recommendations for reform. Last year, the Boston Globe ran a series detailing the failures of Small Claims Courts, and this report addresses many of those concerns. Recommendations include the following:

1. Changes to Uniform Small Claims Rules. The group recommends rule changes in nine areas, including providing better notice to debtors, clarifying the role of "covering attorneys," and providing some protections to defendants who appear for trial but trial does not occur because the plaintiff is not ready.

2. Changes to Small Claims Standards. Recommendations for changes to standards are designed to regulate the balance of power, perceived or actual, between plaintiffs and defendants and improve notice to defendants.

3. Changes to Statute. The group recommends an increase in the exempted amount for an automobile (currently $700) but was unable to agree on an appropriate amount.

More information on the report is available from the Boston Globe. More information on Small Claims is available at Mass. Law About Small Claims.