Special Master Law and Legal Definition

A Special Master, in law, is an authority appointed by a judge to make sure that judicial orders are actually followed. They are employed in complex civil actions where their expertise is needed to assist the court. Special Masters can also be established by the congress to assist with the admistrative claims against the government. Special Masters are appointed pursuant to Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Special Masters are compensated for their work. The rate of compensation is set by the court and the parties pay the costs. In US, cases involving Special Masters often involve situations where it has been shown that governmental entities are violating civil rights. Reference of a case to a master shall be the exception and not the rule.

The use of masters is "to aid judges in the performance of specific judicial duties, as they may arise in the progress of a cause, and not to displace the court." [La Buy v. Howes, 352 U.S. 249, 256 (U.S. 1957)].