Servicemember Civil Relief Act

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

The Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA), 50 USC 3901, was enacted in 2003 as a successor to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act.  It provides servicemembers with important protections in civil and administrative proceedings, such as protection from the entry of default judgments without representation.  It also protects them from mortgage foreclosures, allows them to get out of consumer contracts in the event of a deployment, and caps the amount of interest creditors may charge them in certain transactions.

What is a servicemember

“Servicemember” is defined by statute and typically refers to “active duty” service.  Members of the various state National Guard components and members of the Reserves are not automatically subject to the SCRA, as they often serve on inactive duty.  They may be called to active duty by the President or Secretary of Defense, or, for National Guard members, in support of a national emergency.  Some states have “mini SCRAs” that extend certain rights to the servicemembers’ spouses, or expand the definition of active duty.

Legal proceedings for servicemembers 

To be entitled to the stay of civil proceedings pursuant to the SCRA, the servicemember must be in military service or within 90 days after termination of or release from military service, and have notice of the action as described in 50 U.S.C. 3932 (a)(1)-(2). Before a plaintiff may obtain a default judgment in a civil case, the plaintiff must file an affidavit stating whether or not the defendant is serving in the military.  If the defendant is serving in the military, the court cannot enter default judgment against the servicemember until it appoints an attorney to represent the defendant.  The SCRA provides many important protections in legal proceedings for servicemembers. Be sure to contact one of our subrogation lawyers to discuss these implications.