SPECIAL CIVIL PART
The Special Civil Part is a court where you may sue someone to collect money, up to a $15,000 limit, that you believe is owed to you. If the amount is more than $15,000, you may file in the Law Division of the Superior Court. If the amount is $3,000 or less you may wish to sue in the Small Claims Part. This would save you money on the filing fee.
Typical Special Civil claims include breach of a written or oral contract, return of money used as a down payment, claims based on bad checks, 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 he/she is not, the complaint must be filed by a parent or guardian.
Where to File: Special civil 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.
After the complaint is filed, a trial date will not be set unless the defendant files an Answer with the correct filing fee within 35 days from the date that he/she is served with the complaint. Defendants may file a counterclaim with their answer if they believe that the plaintiff who is suing them owes them money. If the defendant files an answer within 35 days, a trial date will be scheduled. If the defendant does not file an answer, the plaintiff may request that the court enter default judgment.
If a trial is scheduled, both parties will be required to appear. If the plaintiff does not appear at the trial, the case may be dismissed. If the defendant does not appear at the trial, a default judgment may be entered against him/her.
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.
Appealing the Court’s Decision: If either party is unhappy with the court’s decision, they may appeal. Appeals must be filed within 45 days of the final judgment. The Appellate Court is located in Trenton, NJ and the phone number is 609-292-4822.
Location of Court Forms: Forms may be picked up in person at the Civil Customer Service Office, Room 201, Hall of Records, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Newark NJ 07102.
The Special Civil forms and additional court forms and information are also available on the Judiciary website at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/prose/index.htm.
For more information about the Special Civil process, you may also contact the Civil Customer Service Office at 973-693-5529.