How Is a Breach of Contract Case Handled in the Courts of NJ?
You’ve tried to resolve your contract dispute but it appears that your contract differences will go to court.
Now what happens:
No two cases are alike and procedures vary with the complexity of the contract issues involved. The following is a very general outline of the stages of a NJ breach of contract case if filed in the Superior Court of NJ.
The Filing of a Civil Action Complaint
Every case in NJ begins with the filing and service of a Complaint and Summons in the Superior Court of New Jersey. The Complaint will contain one or more contract claims such as “Breach of Contract” or “Fraud”.
Service of Complaint
After the Summons and Complaint have been filed with the court, each named defendant must be properly served so they have legal notice of the lawsuit and can respond.
Response to Complaint
The Defendant(s) has a limited number of days after service of the Complaint to respond by filing an Answer to the Complaint, defenses to the performance of the Contract, and pleading any Counterclaim to the Complaint alleging damages against the plaintiff.
Once the Complaint, Counterclaim and Answer have been filed both parties commence “discovery”. Discovery in NJ is when evidence necessary to either side of the case is gathered. Depending on the nature and complexity of the case, one or more of the following discovery devices may be used by the parties:
- Interrogatories: Written questions which must be answered
- Request for Production of Documents: Demands for production of documents relevant to the contract dispute are requested by the parties involved.
- Requests for Admissions: Requires a party to the lawsuit to admit or deny the accuracy of allegations of the Complaint or Answer.
- Deposition(s): The parties may be required to appear in the opposing attorney’s office to answer questions under oath in front of a court reporter. Depositions can also be taken from 3rd parties who are fact witnesses or experts to the contract case.
- Subpoena of Documents from a Third Party: Documents may be subpoenaed from 3rd parties such as banks and employers, material suppliers, contractors, etc.
Throughout the case the courts in New Jersey will schedule a series of settlement and Case Management Conferences including a non-binding mediation session with a NJ Supreme Court approved civil case mediator which is to be attended by the attorneys and the parties to the case. These conferences are designed to either settle the contract dispute or determine when the case is ready for trial. When the court feels that a case is ready for trial, it will set the date for trial and make orders concerning completion of discovery and final preparation for trial.
Settlement Negotiations in a New Jersey Contract Case
Settlement negotiations may proceed throughout the case. Often the court will require the parties to mediate the issues or will set a “Mandatory Settlement Conference” before the trial date. Settlement negotiations general become more intense as the trial date approaches.
Trial of a NJ Contract Case
The vast majority of NJ contract cases settle before trial. However if the parties cannot settle the case, the only way to resolve the dispute is by way of trial before a judge and jury or if acceptable to the parties by a judge alone.
Fees & Costs in a NJ Breach of Contract Case
Litigation costs in NJ can be substantial. Included in the costs of litigation are filing fees, discovery costs, attorney fees, expert charges, fees for trial and evidence production costs.
If you have any questions about New Jersey contract law and contract litigation, then please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him toll-free at (855) 376-5291. The attorneys at Hanlon Niemann have decades of complex trial experience ready to work for you.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Contract Attorney
New Jersey Contract attorney serving these New Jersey Counties:
Monmouth County, Ocean County, Essex County, Cape May County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Bergen County, Morris County, Burlington County, Union County, Somerset County, Hudson County, Passaic County
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