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Massachusetts Uniform Small Claims
Rule 8: Relief from Judgment or Order

[Disclaimer]

Within one year of the date of judgment the court may, upon a party's application and after notice to the other party in such form as the court deems appropriate, vacate or grant relief from any judgment or order, including an order for a judgment under Rule 7, entered under these Rules for any cause that the court may deem sufficient, and may supersede execution.

At any time after judgment, with notice to the other party, a party may apply to vacate or grant relief from any judgment or order, including an order for a judgment of dismissal under Rule 7, if it is alleged that the party did not receive actual notice of the claim and the date of trial. If the court determines that no notice was received, the court shall vacate or grant relief from any judgment or order entered under these rules.

The court may also order the repayment of any amount collected under such judgment or order, and any action by the court may be made conditional upon the performance of any reasonable condition, including payment of or reimbursement for any reasonable expenses incurred by the other party.

As amended, effective January 1, 2002 and effective October 1, 2009.

Commentary to 2009 Amendment. This amendment requiring relief without regard to the time within which the relief is sought, reflects the due process requirements embodied in Mass. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4) that a judgment may be challenged and must be voided at any time for lack of notice. See, e.g., Bowers v. Board of Appeals of Marshfield, 16 Mass. App. Ct. 29, 31 (1983). The one-year limitation applies to all other grounds for relief from judgment.

Commentary to 2001 Amendment. These amendments clarify two ambiguities in the text of Rule 8. The first makes clear that relief from judgment may not be granted on ex parte application. The form, but not the obligation, of giving notice to the other parties is meant to be discretionary with the court. The second makes clear that the court, in vacating an order of dismissal or a default judgment, may, in appropriate circumstances, award reasonable expenses such as lost wages to the other party if the party was present on the day the case was dismissed or the defendant defaulted.