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SMALL CLAIMS

In the Small Claims section of the Civil Division, the maximum demand is $3000. If your action is against a landlord for failure to return a security deposit, the maximum demand is $5000. In addition, there is a separate Small Claims complaint for motor vehicle accidents.

Typical claims include breach of contract, damage to property, back rent, payment for work performed, etc.

The person initiating the complaint is called the plaintiff. The person that the plaintiff sues is called the defendant. The plaintiff must be 18 years or older and if not, the complaint must be filed by a parent or guardian.

Helpful Information

Where to File:

Small claims complaints are filed in the county where at least one defendant lives or where the defendant’s business is located. If there is more than one defendant, the complaint can be filed in the county where any of the defendants live or are located. If none of the defendants live or are located in New Jersey, the complaint must be filed where the cause of the complaint occurred. A complaint for the return of a security deposit may be filed in the county where the landlord lives or where the landlord’s property is located.

Defendants are not required to file an answer in small claims but they may file a counterclaim if they believe that the plaintiff who is suing them owes them money. The Small Claims section of the court is widely used by people choosing to represent themselves when the demand amount is within the stated limits. The procedures in Small Claims are simpler than in other sections of the court. Once a complaint is filed with the appropriate fees, the court will notify all parties of the date and time that they are required to appear for trial. If the plaintiff does not appear at the trial, the case may be dismissed. If the defendant does not appear at the trial, the plaintiff may request default judgment from the court.

Atlantic County

The Atlantic County
Civil Courts Building
Special Civil Part &
Small Claims
Room #:133 W

1201 Bacharach Blvd
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

Phone #: (609) 594-3356
Fax#: (609) 343-2326

Cape May County

Cape May Courthouse
Special Civil Part &
Small Claims
Room #: 236

4 Moore Rd
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210

Phone #: (609) 463-6522
Fax#: (609) 463-6465

 

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Mediation:

On the day scheduled for trial, the court may help both parties settle the case through mediation by a trained mediator. The mediator will try to help the plaintiff and the defendant reach a satisfactory agreement. The mediator is not a judge. If a settlement cannot be reached, every effort will be made to have the case tried by the judge on the same day.

For more information on mediation, click here.

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Appealing the Court’s Decision:

If you, as a plaintiff or a defendant, disagree with the court's decision, you may appeal the case to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court within 45 days from the date of judgment. You must file a Notice of Appeal, a copy of the Request for Transcript, and a Case Information Statement within the 45 days with the Clerk of the Appellate Division located at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex, PO Box 006, Trenton, NJ 08625 and deliver copies to:

  • All parties to the case who appeared in court.
  • The Clerk of the Special Civil Part from which the appeal is taken.
  • The judge who decided the case.

You must pay a filing fee of $200 with the Notice of Appeal and deposit $300 with the Clerk of the Appellate Division within 30 days of the Notice of Appeal. This deposit may be used to pay settlement or court costs if the appeal is lost. If the appeal is successful, the deposit will be refunded.

You also must obtain a transcript (a copy of the record of what happened in court) of the trial. The request for a transcript should be made to the Office of the Clerk of the Special Civil Part in the county in which the case was tried. You must deposit with the Clerk the estimated cost of the transcript (as determined by the court reporter, Clerk, or agency preparing it) or $300 for each day or part of a day of the trial. You must file three copies of the transcript with the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Division. Questions concerning an appeal should be directed to the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Division at 609-292 4822, or to an attorney.

For more information on the Appellate Court, click here.

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Forms

The Special Civil forms, additional court forms, and information are available on the Judiciary website at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/forms.htm or can be picked up at the Civil Customer Service Office.

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