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Massachusetts Uniform Magistrate Rules
Rule 4: Mediation of Small Claims Actions

[Disclaimer]

(a) Scope of Rule. This rule governs procedure by which magistrates act as mediators in small claims actions pursuant to G.L., c. 218, s. 22 and G.L., c. 185C, s. 3. The rule shall apply to the District Court, Boston Municipal Court and Housing Court Departments.

(b) Informing Plaintiff and Defendant. All plaintiffs in small claims actions shall be informed upon the filing of their complaints that such actions may be submitted to a magistrate of the court for mediation and resolution at the request of either party and with the agreement of all parties. Such information shall be contained in a written notice to be given to the plaintiff personally or by mail at the time of the filing of the action. Such written notice shall be in the form approved by the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court. If the plaintiff indicates to the court within ten days after this notice is given or sent that he desires mediation, the summons sent to the defendant or a notice included with the summons sent to the defendant shall indicate this fact and the fact that the defendant may consent to mediation on the date for which the case is scheduled.

(c) Mediation Procedures. Mediation sessions may be conducted in courtrooms or in any other room in the courthouse deemed appropriate for the purpose by the magistrate, including the magistrate's office. The mediation process shall consist of a discussion of the dispute by the parties, guided by the magistrate, with the goal of achieving a voluntary resolution of the dispute on terms mutually agreeable to the parties. Procedures governing the order in which the parties may speak, their opportunity to speak, and the participation of lawyers and witnesses, shall be as the magistrate shall determine, consistent with the achievement of a voluntary resolution of the dispute. Mediation sessions are not to be recorded and participants are not to be sworn.

(d) Termination of Mediation. If at any time prior to the agreement of the parties the magistrate for any reason determines that the procedures have reached an impasse or are not leading to a voluntary and equitable resolution, he or she may so inform the parties and terminate the mediation procedure. Upon such termination, the magistrate shall schedule the action for the small claims session and may attempt to obtain from the parties stipulations and agreed facts. Such stipulations and statements of agreed facts, if any, shall be submitted to the court when the case comes on for hearing in the small claims session.

(e) Judgment after Mediation. Upon the achievement of a voluntary resolution by mediation, the magistrate shall cause such resolution to be reduced to writing, including all the terms thereof on a memorandum in a form approved by the Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court. The parties shall sign this written memorandum of their agreement and be given copies thereof. The magistrate shall thereupon enter judgment in the case in accordance with said agreement and shall likewise enter any agreed-upon order for payment.

(f) Enforcement. Satisfaction and enforcement of monetary judgments entered on mediated agreements and of the terms of payment thereof shall be by the same supplementary process procedures as are applicable to small claims judgments generally.

(g) Review. The action of a magistrate pursuant to this rule shall be reviewable by a justice provided that a request for said review is made within five days of the giving of notice of the action of the Magistrate.