Massachusetts Agencies

Employment Security Liens

Liens, Special

Unless they are a product of a judgment, employment security liens would be limited to a ten (formerly six) year duration. (Section 16 of the statute makes provision for a lien of twenty years’ duration when the lien “results from a judgment,” but it does not appear that the judgment itself needs to be recorded. Section 15 of the statute requires an action for such judgment to be commenced “in the district court within the judicial district of which the employer . . . lives or has or had a usual place of business . . . .” The docket of such court should be examined and if it discloses no such action for a judgment it could be assumed that none was commenced.)

One question that the new legislation does not specially answer is whether it is retroactive. Clearly, the legislature has the power to extend the time for the expiration of the lien and can exercise this power were no rights of innocent purchasers have arisen. Although the statute is silent on the point, if, at the time the legislation passed, the lien had not yet expired, it would seem that the lien would be extended under the legislation. This seems intuitively true were no third-party purchaser has intervened. In this manner, the question is not whether the legislation is “retroactive,” but rather where it preserves rights of the commonwealth which have not yet expired. This, in my opinion, is the way that the courts would interpret the legislation.