A Capehart Scatchard Blog

New Jersey Supreme Court Approves Increase in Jurisdictional Limits of Small Claims and Special Civil Part

By on June 10, 2022 in Civil Lawsuits with 0 Comments

New Jersey provides the opportunity for litigants to file a lawsuit in either Small Claims court or Special Civil Part of the Superior Court if those claims are under the jurisdictional limits of those courts. As of July 1, 2022, the jurisdictional limit for a civil matter to be brought in Small Claims court will be increased from $3,000 to $5,000. The jurisdictional limit for Special Civil Part will be increased from $15,000 to $20,000. To file a lawsuit in either of these courts, that means the money damages or the amount in dispute cannot exceed that jurisdictional limit.

Civil claims filed in either court cannot include a claim for professional malpractice, probate or a Family court or Tax court matter. However, they can include a claim for a return of all or part of a security deposit in dispute.

Any civil claims that exceed these jurisdictional limits would need to be filed in the Superior Court (either Law or Chancery divisions).

There are pros and cons in filing a civil lawsuit in either Small Claims or Special Civil Part. The primary advantage is the time it will take to reach a trial date. As an example, in my experience, depending on the county in which the lawsuit is filed, a Small Claims complaint could be assigned a trial date within about 30 days of its filing (barring COVID delays). A Special Civil Part complaint could be assigned a trial date within about 3-4 months of the filing of the lawsuit.

On the other hand, again, depending on the county, pre-COVID, a Superior Court civil lawsuit would typically be reached for trial within 1-2 years of the filing of the lawsuit. Post-COVID, it could be 3 or more years before a trial date is reached due to the trial backups caused by court shutdowns.

The main disadvantage, however, would be the lack of discovery permitted in Small Claims court and the limited discovery permitted in Special Civil Part. While questions called interrogatories can be served on a limited basis in a Special Civil Part case, there are no depositions permitted without a court order.

In summary, filing a lawsuit in Small Claims or Special Civil Part case, if within the jurisdictional limits of those courts, will result in a speedier resolution. However, litigants must be aware of the more limited informational exchange through the discovery process permitted in those courts. You may not find out your adversary’s defenses or evidence until you arrive in court on the day of trial.

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About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 25 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

For the years 2020 and 2021, Ms. Ramos was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Litigation - Insurance. The attorneys on this list are selected based upon the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. A complete description of The Best Lawyers in America© methodology can be viewed via their website at: https://www.bestlawyers.com/methodology.

In 2021, Capehart Scatchard and Ms. Ramos received the “Best Law Firm” ranking in the area of Litigation – Insurance (Metro, Tier 3) published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. Law firms included on the list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have at least one attorney who has been included in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. Betsy Ramos (Litigation – Insurance) was recognized for this prestigious award in the 2021 edition. For a description of the “Best Law Firm” selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

“Best Law Firms” is published by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. For a description of the selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

*No aspect of this advertisement has been submitted to or approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

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