Articles Tagged with “New Jersey Litigation”

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New Jersey business law allows people and businesses to manage their relationships by entering contracts which define the terms of that relationship.  Contracts are enforceable by the full force of the law.  For instance, if one party owes another money under a contract but doesn’t pay, the wronged party can go to court; if it can prove its case the court will enter a judgment in its favor and it can then have the county sheriff go seize the breaching party’s property to pay the debt.

In some cases, all or part of a contract may not be enforceable.  This area of New Jersey business law contains three distinct and important concepts: void contracts, voidable contracts, and severability.

Void Contracts or Contract Provisions

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In New Jersey nobody can be forced to arbitrate a dispute unless there is an agreement to do so beforehand. Arbitration agreements are controlled by the Federal Arbitration Act and the New Jersey Arbitration Act.

Arbitration is a process that utilizes a neutral third party to decide a dispute. Disputes are submitted to an arbitrator who makes a binding decision. An arbitrator will review the evidence and then render a binding decision. The decision can then be entered as a judgment by a court and enforced by the Sheriff.

Parties can agree to arbitrate a dispute even after litigation is filed. Arbitration is typically less expensive and faster than litigation. Discovery of information between the parties, however, is greatly reduced, typically limited to the exchange of relevant documents, thereby further reducing costs. Arbitrations themselves are conducted like trials, but are less formal and in private. Arbitrators are then compensated for their time by the parties. Unfortunately, arbitration rulings, generally, cannot be appealed, but that finality can make arbitration less expensive.

Parties to a dispute have considerable discretion about the terms and conditions of arbitration in their Agreement to arbitrate. For example, the parties can decide if the dispute will be submitted to one arbitrator or multiple. The parties can also decide to select a particular arbitrator, or have a neutral third-party select the arbitrator.

However, one thing that is clear in New Jersey is that once the parties agree to arbitrate a dispute, they must do so. In Petersburg Regency, LLC v. Selective Way Insurance Company, the litigants were three years into a civil litigation. The litigants then decided to arbitrate the dispute but did not prepare a written agreement that dictated the specific terms and conditions of the arbitration. When the arbitration was about to proceed the parties had a disagreement to some key terms and conditions and demanded that the arbitration be remanded back to the trial court. Initially the trial court determined that there was “no meeting of the minds” and the parties were required to litigate. On appeal, however, the Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court ordered the case back to arbitration.
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stock-photo-4786200-handshake-at-the-business-meeting.jpgThere are three forms of formal dispute resolution to resolve a legal dispute which informal negotiations have fulfilled: mediation, arbitration, or litigation. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each is important to decide which method is best to resolve a dispute.

Mediation.

Mediation is a process where a neutral third party assists in resolving the dispute. Mediators are typically lawyers or retired judges who have extensive experience in the field in which parties have a dispute. The decision to settle is always up to the parties. Mediators do not have the power to issue a binding decision. Instead, mediators can often provide their opinion on how they believe matters will be resolved through a litigation or an arbitration and lead the parties to agree by explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each others’ case.

Mediators will often ask the parties to submit confidential written statements and documents that support the parties position to the mediator before the mediation. On the day of the mediation, the parties will meet at a pre-arranged location with the mediator. The process typically involves the parties providing a short explanation of their side of the case to the mediator. The parties will then break into separate rooms and the mediator will shuttle between rooms to discuss the dispute and a resolution.

Mediation is typically confidential. Mediations resolve disputes quickly and are far less expensive than arbitration or litigation, and allow the parties to control the outcome.
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