The Superior Court Civil Division is composed of the Law Division, the Special Civil Part, and the Chancery Division, General Equity Part. The Law Division is a court of general jurisdiction. There is no monetary limit to the matters filed in the Law Division. The Special Civil Part is a court of limited jurisdiction which handles matters which are valued at less than $15,000. Small Claims matters valued at less than $3,000 and Landlord Tenant actions. Typically, this court handles the most number of cases involving "pro-se" litigants or lay people representing themselves without legal counsel.
A large increase in the number of cases filed in the Civil Division in the past decade has required the court to look at other means for resolving disputes in addition to the traditional process of trial. In 1986 a program of Automobile Arbitration was introduced by legislation. Today, there is legislation requiring the arbitration of all automobile negligence actions and all personal injury cases and other non-personal actions. The Arbitration Program is designed to provide an attorney with at least seven years of experience in the practice of law who is nominated by the local Bar Association and approved by the Assignment Judge to serve as the decision maker for cases present to them for resolution. The Supreme Court Rules have been written and approved to establish this less formal, more expeditious means of bringing disputes before the arbitrator who will decide both liability (i.e., who is at fault), percentages and damages (i.e., the amount). If any party rejects the award of the arbitrator, within a 30 day period from the date of the hearing, a fee of $200 is paid returning the matter to the active trial calendar and is heard as if it did not go through arbitration. This is known as a trial de novo. The Monmouth Vicinage also provides a Voluntary Binding Arbitration Program and participates in the statewide Civil Mediation Program as additional complementary dispute resolution programs.
Bar Paneling of all DC docket type cases and Small Claims settlement conferences are Complementary Dispute Resolution Programs in the Special Civil Part. These programs also involve a third party neutral who is selected to resolve the dispute brought before them in a less formal process than the traditional trial.
General Information - 732-677-4240
Kathleen Wardlow, Civil Division Manager 732-677-4250
SPECIAL CIVIL PART