Real Estate Development in the Time of Coronavirus: Massachusetts – Update 3/31/2020

Suffolk County Registry of Deeds

Staff at the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds is currently unable to review and record mailed documents, per this notice posted on the registry’s website. The Edward Brooke Courthouse, where the registry is located, is closed for cleaning through April 3, 2020, so no registry staff will be in the building until April 6 at the earliest. While registry staff working from home will continue to record electronically filed documents concerning unregistered land, no action will be taken on registered land documents until staff returns. The Edward Brooke Courthouse will remain closed to the public until at least April 6, 2020, a date that could be extended further.

Massachusetts Courts Allow Email Service

On March 30, 2020, the Supreme Judicial Court issued an order allowing parties to serve documents by email. Coronavirus aside, this is a development many attorneys have been hoping for to make providing legal services more efficient and cost-effective. The order recognizes that most attorneys are not going to their offices and are unlikely to receive mail on a daily basis. Under this new order, any attorney of record can be served by email, and each attorney appearing in a case must provide a working email address. Affidavits can be signed electronically if necessary, but attorneys must later obtain an original signed affidavit. While service is complete upon sending the email, when the service triggers a deadline for responding, the three-day extension for mailed documents typically provided in court rules is retained. The SJC’s order will remain in effect until further order of the court.

For questions on these orders, or any other real estate development issue, please contact Dan Bailey, Paula Devereaux, Don Pinto, Gareth Orsmond, or Joel Quick.



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