Public comments sought on proposed rule to streamline small claims

July 7, 2005

The Mississippi Supreme Court is seeking public comments on a proposed court rule intended to save legal expenses and speed resolution of civil cases in which the issues in dispute involve money damages of less than $50,000.

The Supreme Court has extended the public comment period to July 31.

Comments on the proposed rule should be mailed to the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Gartin Justice Building, P.O. Box 117, Jackson, MS 39205.

The Rules Advisory Committee to the Supreme Court has petitioned the justices to adopt the proposed changes as Rule 26A of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure.

In its Notice of Request for Comments, the Rules Advisory Committee said, “It is suggested that this rule would provide for expedited proceedings in certain cases involving relatively small damage demands and that the interest of justice would best be served in these cases if discovery and motions practice are limited in the interest of reducing costs of litigation and delays in the process.”

The proposed rule is intended to apply to civil legal disputes where the sole relief sought is money damages of less than $50,000.

The Rules Advisory Committee in its own commentary said, “The Rule seeks to provide a fair, swift and cost-effective determination of such actions.”

The proposal calls for a plaintiff’s complaint and a defendant’s answer to include detailed statements of the factual basis and legal theory advocated by each side. The proposal calls for limitations on discovery and pretrial motions. Plaintiffs when they file a complaint would include names and contact information of witnesses and documentary evidence expected to be presented at trial. A defendant’s disclosure of expected witnesses would be made with the answer to the complaint, or within 90 days after the answer was filed, but no later than 30 days before trial. All written and other tangible evidence would have to be made available for the opposing party’s inspection and copying no later than 30 days before trial.

The entire proposal is available on the Supreme Court’s web site,, on the NEWS page.