Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

Posted on Jun 01, 2015 By Ron Sykstus

Attorney Ronald SykstusA powerful statute, the SCRA is in place to assist our citizens who put themselves in harms way for our freedom.  The SCRA can be found at 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501-596 Public Law 108-189.  This federal law took effect on December 19, 2003.  Previously known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA), the SCRA is a complete revision of the SSCRA and it clarifies the language of the SSCRA while incorporating and codifying decades of SSCRA caselaw.  The entire law is located here.

Purpose of the SCRA

The stated purpose of the SCRA is to strengthen and expedite the national defense through protections extended by this Act to service members of the United States. It will enable such persons to devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation; and to provide for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect the civil rights of service members during their military service.  These U.S. Supreme Court cases set out the importance of the SCRA:  Boone v. Lightner 319 U.S. 561, 575 (1943):  “Protect those who have been obliged to drop their own affairs to take up the burdens of the nation.”  Le Maistre v. Leffers 333 U.S. 1, 6 (1948):  “The Act should be read with an eye friendly to those who have dropped their affairs to answer their country’s call.”

Key Protections Offered to Servicemembers

  1. Alters conventional contracts
  2. Prevents default judgments except in accordance with its provisions
  3. Allows for termination of residential and automobile leases
  4. Reduces most pre-service debt to 6% interest rate
  5. Anticipatory relief (instead of filing bankruptcy)
  6. Private causes of action recognized
  7. Criminal sanctions for Title III violations (same as SSCRA)
  8. Mandatory 90-stay of proceedings (no longer discretionary as in SSCRA)

We thank our current servicemembers and all veterans for their service to our country.  If you believe that a current servicemember or dependent’s rights are being violated under the SCRA, please feel free to contact our office nearest to you and let us explore the factual situation with you.