New Jersey Small Claims Court
UPDATED: December 29, 2019
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New Jersey’s Special Civil Part court system presents an easy, affordable way to litigate legal disputes of less than $15,000 in value. The Small Claims division handles cases worth less than $3,000, the Special Civil Part division takes on cases between $3,000 and $5,000 in value, and the Landlord/Tenant division handles all landlord/tenant disputes. From auto repair issues to breach of contract, property damage, or personal injury, these courts are a great way for a plaintiff (the person suing) to bring a lawsuit against a defendant (the person being sued) without incurring large expenses or getting involved in complicated litigation.
While New Jersey residents may represent themselves in Special Civil Part for small claims, they can hire an attorney if they wish. Individuals and business entities can both sue and be sued under this system.
Claim Limit: Claims under $15,000; the Special Civil Part division handles cases $3,000 to $15,000 in value, while Small Claims handles cases under $3,000in value.
Where to File: You should file your claim in the Special Civil Part office in the county where the defendant resides.
Cases Handled: Common disputes involve personal injury, property damage, failure to pay, auto repair disputes, and breach of contract. Landlord-Tenant disputes such as evictions are handled by a special Landlord-Tenant court.
Filing Eligibility: Business entities and individuals age 18 and over can file a small claim in New Jersey’s Special Civil Part. Children under age 18 must have a qualified adult (parent or legal guardian) file on their behalf.
How to File: File a Small Claims Complaint Form with the office of the Special Civil Part. You must provide contact information and names for plaintiff and all defendants, explain the lawsuit, and state the amount claimed. You will be required to pay a small filing fee to file your claim; if you cannot afford the fee, you may file for indigent status and be exempted from this fee by a judge. Part of your filing fee will go towards service of copies of the lawsuit paperwork on the defendant(s) in question.
New Jersey Small Claims Assistance: Court clerks and legal librarians cannot provide legal advice, though they can provide forms for filing your small claim in New Jersey. For information, advice, and/or referrals, get in touch with a New Jersey small claims attorney, the New Jersey State Bar Association, or a legal aid society such as Legal Services of New Jersey.
For more state-specific information and links to your state's small claims court resources, see Small Claims Court Information and Links.