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Real Estate Development in the Time of Coronavirus: Massachusetts - Update 6/29/2020

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: No Further Deadline or Statute of Limitations Extensions

On June 24, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) issued an order further staying certain hearings and trials and limiting access to courthouses until at least July 13, 2020. The order affirms that there will be no further extension of deadlines or statutes of limitations beyond June 30, 2020 “unless there is a new surge in COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth and the SJC determines that a new or extended period of tolling is needed.”

Appeal periods on local permits will begin to run on July 1, 2020. Note that state permit appeal periods are tolled until 45 days after the state of emergency ends under the governor’s March 26, 2020 order. That order remains in effect at this time. The key provisions of the SJC’s new order are: 

  • Statutes of limitations are tolled from March 17 through June 30, 2020. All other deadlines set forth in statutes, court rules, standing orders, tracking orders, or guidelines that expired or will expire between March 16 and June 30, 2020 are tolled until July 1, 2020 (unless otherwise ordered by the particular court).  For deadlines that began to run prior to March 16, 2020, the order provides examples of how to calculate the time that will remain as of July 1, 2020.

  • Courthouses remain closed to the public until July 13, 2020. The lower courts will list categories of non-emergency matters that they won’t handle, and list matters that they will hear in person as of July 13 and at a second reopening phase beginning August 10, 2020. Courts will hold all other hearings via telephone and/or videoconference unless an in-person hearing is necessary. Courts will also provide alternative filing instructions, including drop boxes at certain courthouses for in-person filings.

  • Civil jury trials scheduled to start between March 14 and September 4, 2020 are still continued to a date no earlier than September 8, 2020. Civil bench trials scheduled to start between March 14 and June 30, 2020 are continued to a date no earlier than July 13, 2020 unless, in the trial judge’s discretion, the trial can be held virtually.

Each lower court has issued and will continue to update individual orders regarding the scope of its operations after the courthouses reopen to the public on July 13, 2020, and post them here.

©2021 Pierce Atwood LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 185



About this Author

Dan Bailey environmental, land use, real estate, and municipal law.

Dan Bailey has more than 30 years of experience in environmental, land use, real estate, and municipal law. He prides himself on offering pragmatic solutions to complicated legal matters. While Dan’s “sweet spot” is the redevelopment of commercial property, he has a strong background in all aspects of environmental and regulatory law. Dan also handles all types of real estate transactions.  

Dan has helped facilitate development of a wide range of commercial real estate projects, ranging from mixed use (retail, office, and housing), multifamily housing, athletic facilities, marinas...

Paula M. Devereaux Partner Boston Commercial Real Estate Law Real Estate Land Use Environmental

Paula Devereaux is an experienced commercial real estate and land use attorney, focusing her practice on development, zoning, permitting, planning, and environmental regulatory compliance. Paula serves as real estate counsel for a number of clients in the Greater Boston area, ranging from smaller organizations to large corporations, medical centers, retailers, and real estate firms. She regularly advises clients on Boston permitting matters, waterfront development issues, and in sales, acquisitions, and financings.

Paula is active in the real estate community, serving in leadership...

Gareth Orsmond Partner  real estate, land use, environmental and municipal law, real estate financing, affordable housing

Gareth Orsmond is a real estate lawyer with expertise in land use, environmental and municipal law, real estate financing, affordable housing, and large-scale development. Gareth’s practice encompasses commercial transactions, permitting, resolving property disputes, providing general counsel on a wide range of subjects, and litigating matters in administrative tribunals and court.

For more than 20 years, Gareth has represented diverse clientele, including developers, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies. He has handled hundreds of hearings and meetings with...

Donald R. Pinto, Jr., Pierce Atwood, litigation lawyer

Don Pinto has more than 30 years of experience as a civil litigator, with a focus on complex real estate and land use disputes. He handles cases at the trial and appellate levels in the state and federal courts and before administrative agencies. Outside the courtroom Don has successfully resolved many disputes through negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.

Don is also the founder, editor, and one of several contributors to Massachusetts Dirt and Development Law, the firm's real estate blog.


(617) 488-8175
Joel Quick Real Estate Attorney Pierce Atwood

Joel Quick focuses his practice on land use and real estate law, providing a full array of legal services for any commercial or residential development project, including analyzing land use and local environmental regulations and appearing before public bodies to seek needed relief. Joel also negotiates and drafts any restrictions, easements, and covenants required by a municipality as a condition of approval, and, if needed, will seek amendment of affordability, conservation, and preservation restrictions. With experience acting as counsel for a number of municipalities and municipal...