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Massachusetts Civil Procedure Rule 1: Scope of Rules

[Disclaimer]

These rules govern the procedure before a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court or of the Appeals Court, and in the following departments of the Trial Court: the Superior Court, the Housing Court the Probate and Family Court in proceedings seeking equitable relief, the Juvenile Court in proceedings seeking equitable relief, in the Land Court, in the District Court and in the Boston Municipal Court, in all suits of a civil nature whether cognizable as cases at law or in equity, with the exceptions stated in Rule 81. They shall be construed to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action. As used in these rules the following terms shall be deemed to have the following meanings:

"Superior Court" shall mean the Superior Court Department of the Trial Court, or a session thereof for holding court.

"Housing Court" shall mean a division of the Housing Court Department of the Trial Court, or a session thereof for holding court.

"Probate Court" shall mean a division of the Probate and Family Court Department of the Trial Court, or a session thereof for holding court.

"Land Court" shall mean the Land Court Department of the Trial Court, or a session thereof for holding court.

"District Court" or "Municipal Court" shall mean a division of the District Court Department of the Trial Court, or a session thereof for holding court; except when the context means something to the contrary, said words shall include the Boston Municipal Court Department.

"Municipal Court of the City of Boston" or "Boston Municipal Court" shall mean a division of the Boston Municipal Court Department of the Trial Court, or a session thereof for holding court.

"Juvenile Court" shall mean the Juvenile Court Department of the Trial Court, or a session thereof for holding court.

Amended June 27, 1974, effective July 1, 1974; November 9, 1979, effective January 1, 1980; December 13, 1981, effective January 1, 1982; amended effective June 8, 1989; July 1, 1996; amended April 5, 2007, effective June 1, 2007; amended November 28, 2007, effective March 1, 2008.

Reporter's Notes

(2008): The definition of "Municipal Court of the City of Boston" has been amended in light of legislation in 2003 transferring various Divisions of the District Court Department located in Suffolk County to the Boston Municipal Court. See G.L. c. 218, s. 1 and G.L. c. 218, s. 50. Whenever the term "District Court" is used in the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, the reference is to be construed as including the Boston Municipal Court, unless "the context means something to the contrary." Mass. R. Civ. P. 1, sixth definition.

(2007): The 2007 amendments to Rule 1 make the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure applicable to proceedings in the Juvenile Court where equitable relief is sought. For example, a civil action brought in the Juvenile Court seeking specific performance of a post-adoption contract (G. L. c. 210, s. 6D) will be governed by the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.

(1996): With the merger of the District/Municipal Courts Rules of Civil Procedure into the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure in 1996, minor changes have been made to Rule 1 with the addition of references to the District Court and to the Boston Municipal Court.

(1973) This rule is substantially the same as Federal Rule 1, substituting Massachusetts references for those of the United States. The rules apply to cases at law or in equity. (See Rule 2 for merger of law and equity.) The reference in Rule 1 to cases at law or in equity in no way attempts to enlarge the jurisdiction of any court. In cases of concurrent jurisdiction, the litigation is controlled by the rules applicable in the court where the action rests. Thus an action for divorce which is triable in either the Probate Court or the Superior Court, is, when commenced in the Superior Court, controlled by these rules, even though if, had it been commenced in the Probate Court, it would be controlled by the extant Probate Court rules. Cases involving switches between the Superior Court and a district court or the Boston Municipal Court are governed by Rule 81(f) and 81(g). See also Rule 13(j).