Last month the Supreme Judicial Court announced amendments to the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure, which will take effect on March 1, 2019. The amendments include substantial modifications and clarifications to the rules of appellate procedure currently in effect. A key modification throughout the amendments is a change to filing deadlines. The deadlines for filing will be in 7-day increments, replacing the 10- or 20-day deadlines which have caused confusion because the deadlines sometimes landed on a weekend or holiday. Throughout the amendments there are general changes, such as using only gender-neutral terms, replacing "trial court" with "lower court", eliminating references to obsolete technology, and making the language of the rules more modern and easily understood. Additionally, the new rules are more handily broken down into parts and subparts, making referencing specific rule provisions easier for litigants and the courts.
One of the advantages of arbitration is the certainty that comes with it. While arbitration awards can be challenged in court, it is extremely difficult to overturn an award. In fact, courts will vacate, or refuse to confirm an arbitration award only if there was a serious conflict of interest or corruption on the part of a neutral arbitrator, or the arbitrators exceeded their powers. This latter ground, the arbitrators exceeding their authority, is most frequently used as a basis for setting aside an arbitral award. A recent decision by the Swedish Court of Appeals setting aside a US $173 million arbitration award provides some guidance on how this standard may be applied.