The Civil Division operates in Parts, or Sections, consisting of the Law Division, Civil Part, the Special Civil Parts; and, the Chancery Division, General Equity Part.
The Civil Division manages civil lawsuits, cases in which a person claims that s/he has been injured or damaged by the actions of another. Injury is a legal term meaning any harm done to a person’s body, property, reputation, or rights. The majority of all civil matters seek financial compensation (money) in return for the injuries allegedly caused. Cases which do not see monetary compensation are considered to be seeking equitable relief; corrective action which cannot be measured in dollars.
Law Division, Civil Part
Within the Rules of the Superior Court, Law Division, the Civil Part is considered a court of general jurisdiction, meaning there is no limit to the amount of money that can be claimed within a lawsuit . Examples include automobile accidents (injuries to person(s) and/or damage to property); medical or legal malpractice; injuries or damage involving defective products; age, race, gender discrimination; personal injuries, and contractual disputes, to name just a few.
Law Division, Special Civil Part
The Special Civil Part (SCP) is a court of limited jurisdiction, meaning there is on limit on the amount of money that can be sued for, which is a maximum of $15,000.00. The SCP is a high volume court involving a large number of pro se (self-represented) litigants. This Part is further broken down into the following three case types or categories:
- Small Claims (maximum $3,000)
- Regular Special Civil (maximum $15,000
- Landlord Tenant – where the issue in dispute resolves around possession of an rental property
Typical small claims and special civil lawsuits include violations of written or oral contracts; bad checks; back rent; return of money used as a down payment or for security deposit; property damages, including accident related damages; payment for work performed, or defective merchandise.
Landlord/Tenant cases involve disputes which landlords initiate to gain legal possession of rental property away from tenants only upon such legal basis as failure to pay rent, habitual lateness with rent, continued disorderly conduct, destruction of property, conviction of a drug offense or other offenses, etc.
Chancery Division, General Equity Part
The court in general equity hears matters claiming equitable relief rather than monetary compensation. Such relief is considered affirmative in its action, one which cannot necessarily be measured in dollars. Examples include: the court requiring or restricting actions involving labor disputes; property foreclosures, dissolutions of corporations or partnerships, and emergency medical guardianships, again, to name just a few.