Law Office Of Paul DePetris
paul@newjerseylemon.com

New Jersey Plain Language Law

Read below to learn more about this topic.

Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation about what the Law Office of Paul DePetris might be able to do for you, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send an email to Mr. DePetris at paul@newjerseylemon.com.

The information in this article is only for New Jersey Law Division, Civil Part cases and not for other New Jersey court cases, such as those in New Jersey Special Civil Court, New Jersey Small Claims Court or New Jersey Chancery Court!!! Do not use this article if you have a New Jersey Special Civil Court, New Jersey Small Claims Court or New Jersey Chancery Court case!!! Also, no website is a substitute for competent advice from a New Jersey lawyer!

Warning – this article does not necessarily include each and every New Jersey court rule that may apply to your New Jersey case! The Law Office of Paul DePetris does not guarantee that the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website are the latest versions of the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not been amended, repealed or superseded by other federal or state law. The New Jersey Statutes, United States Statutes, New Jersey Administrative Code and Federal Code in this database are not annotated. Accordingly, this database may include laws that: (1) never became operable due to unmet conditions; (2) expired; (3) were repealed or amended; (4) were declared void by a court of law; (5) or are otherwise invalid. Further, effective dates of the laws are not necessarily included in the database. Accordingly, you should not rely upon the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website contained in this database for any purpose and before taking any legal measures, you instead should read all applicable federal and state source law and case law and consult with an attorney for any changes in the laws. Be certain to cross reference all applicable rules before preparing, filing or serving any papers!!! For example, Special Civil Part Rules often cross reference other rules – rules that apply to Special Civil Part Cases as well as to other types of civil cases not being heard in Special Civil Part.

56:12-1. Definitions
As used in this act:

"Consumer contract" means a written agreement in which an individual:

a. Leases or licenses real or personal property;

b. Obtains credit;

c. Obtains insurance coverage, except insurance coverage contained in policies subject to the "Life and Health Insurance Policy Language Simplification Act" (P.L.1979, c. 167, C. 17B:17-17 et seq.);

d. Borrows money;

e. Purchases real or personal property;

f. Contracts for services including professional services,

for cash or on credit and the money, property or services are obtained for personal, family or household purposes. "Consumer contract" includes writings required to complete the consumer transaction. "Consumer contract" does not include a written agreement involving a transaction in securities with a broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a transaction in commodities with a futures commission merchant registered with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 1, eff. Oct. 16, 1980. Amended by L.1981, c. 464, s. 1; L.1982, c. 195, s. 1, eff. Dec. 8, 1982.

56:12-2. Contracts to be written in simple, clear, understandable and easily readable way
A consumer contract entered into on or after the effective date of this amendatory and supplementary act shall be written in a simple, clear, understandable and easily readable way. In determining whether a consumer contract has been written in a simple, clear, understandable and easily readable way as a whole, a court, the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, in regard to contracts of insurance provided for in subsection c. of section 1 of this act (C. 56:12-1c.), shall take into consideration the guidelines set forth in section 10 of this act. Use of technical terms or words of art shall not in and of itself be a violation of this act.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 2, eff. Oct. 16, 1980. Amended by L.1981, c. 464, s. 2; L.1982, c. 88, s. 1, eff. July 23, 1982.

56:12-2.1 Cost of residential construction permits, disclosure by contractor; violations, penalties.

1. a. The final invoice regarding a consumer contract for construction or reconstruction at a residential premises shall contain a disclosure by the contractor of the cost of construction permits required to complete the construction or reconstruction of the residential premises, and the amount of any administrative or processing fees that the contractor will charge to obtain the required permits which amount shall not exceed the cost to the contractor to obtain the permit and to record any necessary documents. For the purpose of this section, "construction or reconstruction" means any work on a residence which will require a permit to be obtained under the "State Uniform Construction Code Act," P.L.1975, c.217 (C.52:27D-119 et seq.), or regulations promulgated thereto, but excluding work on any new home subject to the "New Home Warranty and Builders' Registration Act," P.L.1977, c.467 (C.46:3B-1 et seq.) and for which a certificate of occupancy has been issued

b. Upon written complaint filed by a consumer with the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, a contractor found to be in violation of this provision shall be subject to a $500 penalty for each separate violation to be enforced pursuant to the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

L.2005,c.291,s.1.
56:12-3. Failure to comply; liability
A creditor, seller, insurer or lessor who fails to comply with section 2 of this act shall be liable to a consumer who is a party to the consumer contract for actual damages sustained, if the violation caused the consumer to be substantially confused about the rights, obligations or remedies of the contract, plus punitive damages in an amount up to $50.00. The creditor, seller, insurer or lessor shall also be liable for the consumer's reasonable attorney's fees and costs, not to exceed $2,500.00.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 3, eff. Oct. 16, 1980. Amended by L.1981, c. 464, s. 3.

56:12-4. Class actions; limitation on punitive damages
Class actions may be brought under the provisions of this act, but the amount of punitive damages shall be limited to $10,000.00 against any one seller, lessor, insurer or creditor and the amount of attorney's fees may not exceed $10,000.00.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 4, eff. Oct. 16, 1980. Amended by L.1981, c. 464, s. 4.

56:12-4.1. Reform or limit of provision of consumer contract by court; findings
In addition to the remedies provided in this act, a court reviewing a consumer contract may reform or limit a provision so as to avoid an unfair result if it finds that:

a. a material provision of the contract violates this act;

b. the violation caused the consumer to be substantially confused about any of the rights, obligations or remedies of the contract; and

c. the violation has caused or is likely to cause financial detriment to the consumer.

If the court reforms or limits a provision of a consumer contract, the court shall also make orders necessary to avoid unjust enrichment. Bringing a claim for relief pursuant to this section does not entitle a consumer to withhold performance of an otherwise valid contractual obligation. No relief shall be granted pursuant to this section unless the claim is brought before the obligations of the contract have been fully performed.

L.1981, c. 464, s. 9.
56:12-5. Nonliability conditions
There shall be no liability under sections 3 and 4 if: a. both parties to the contract have performed their obligations under the contract, b. the creditor, seller, insurer or lessor attempts in good faith to comply with this act in preparing the consumer contract, c. the contract is in conformity with a rule, regulation, or the opinion or interpretation of the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, in regard to contracts of insurance provided for in subsection c. of section 1 of this act (C. 56:12-1c.), or d. the consumer supplied the contract or the portion of the contract to which the consumer objects.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 5, eff. Oct. 16, 1980. Amended by L.1981, c. 464, s. 5; L.1982, c. 88, s. 2, eff. July 23, 1982.

56:12-6. Use of specific language
The use of specific language in a consumer contract required, permitted or approved by a law, regulation, rule or published interpretation of a State or Federal agency shall not violate this act.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 6, eff. Oct. 16, 1980.

56:12-7. Other claims not precluded
This act shall not preclude a debtor, buyer, insured or lessee from making any claims which would have been available to him if this act were not in effect.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 7, eff. Oct. 16, 1980.

56:12-8. Opinions on compliance of consumer contracts; review by attorney general; certification; fee
a. A creditor, seller, insurer, lessor or any person in the business of preparing and selling forms of consumer contracts may request an opinion from the Attorney General, or the Commissioner of Insurance, in regard to contracts of insurance provided for in subsection c. of section 1 of this act (C. 56:12-1c.), as to whether a consumer contract complies with this act.

The Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, as the case may be, shall furnish the opinion within a reasonable period of time.

b. After reviewing the contract the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, as the case may be, shall: (1) certify that the contract complies with this act; (2) decline to certify that the contract complies with this act and note his objections to the contractual language; (3) decline to review the contract and refer the party submitting the contract to other previously certified contracts of the same type; (4) decline to review the contract because the contract's compliance with this act is the subject of pending litigation; or (5) decline to review the contract because the contract is not subject to this act.

c. Actions of the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, as the case may be, pursuant to this section are not appealable.

d. Any consumer contract certified pursuant to this section is deemed to comply with this act. Certification of a consumer contract pursuant to this section is not otherwise an approval of the contract's legality or legal effect.

e. Failure to submit a contract to the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, as the case may be, for review pursuant to this section does not show a lack of good faith nor does it raise a presumption that the contract violates this act. If pursuant to this section the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, as the case may be, refers a party to a previously certified contract, that the party chooses not to use the contract does not show a lack of good faith nor does it raise a presumption that a contract used by that party violated this act.

f. The Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, as the case may be, may charge a fee, not to exceed $50.00, for the costs of reviewing a consumer contract pursuant to this section.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 8, eff. Oct. 16, 1980. Amended by L.1981, c. 464, s. 6; L.1982, c. 88, s. 3, eff. July 23, 1982.

56:12-8.2. Power of commissioner of insurance to review and certify insurance contracts; effect on prior certification by Attorney General
The transfer to the Commissioner of Insurance of the power and duty to review and certify contracts of insurance provided for in subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1980, c. 125 (C. 56:12-1c.) shall not affect any certification made by the Attorney General prior to the effective date of this act.

L.1982, c. 88, s. 7, eff. July 23, 1982.

56:12-9. Application to dollar limitation on consumer contracts; nonapplication to real estate or insurance contracts
This act shall not apply to consumer contracts involving amounts of more than $50,000.00, but no dollar limitation shall apply to consumer contracts involving real estate or insurance.
L.1980, c. 125, s. 9, eff. Oct. 16, 1980.

56:12-10. Guidelines
a. To insure that a consumer contract shall be simple, clear, understandable and easily readable, the following are examples of guidelines that a court, the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, in regard to contracts of insurance provided for in subsection c. of section 1 of this act (C. 56:12-1c.), may consider in determining whether a consumer contract as a whole complies with this act:

(1) Cross references that are confusing;

(2) Sentences that are of greater length than necessary;

(3) Sentences that contain double negatives and exceptions to exceptions;

(4) Sentences and sections that are in a confusing or illogical order;

(5) The use of words with obsolete meanings or words that differ in their legal meaning from their common ordinary meaning;

(6) Frequent use of Old English and Middle English words and Latin and French phrases.

b. The following are examples of guidelines that a court, the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Insurance, in regard to contracts of insurance provided for in subsection c. of section 1 of this act (C. 56:12-1c.), may consider in determining whether the consumer contract as a whole complies with this act:

(1) Sections shall be logically divided and captioned;

(2) A table of contents or alphabetical index shall be used for all contracts with more than 3,000 words;

(3) Conditions and exceptions to the main promise of the agreement shall be given equal prominence with the main promise, and shall be in at least 10 point type.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 10, eff. Oct. 16, 1980. Amended by L.1981, c. 464, s. 7; L.1982, c. 88, s. 4, eff. July 23, 1982.

56:12-11. Waiver of rights under act; effect of violation of act
No consumer contract shall contain a waiver of any rights under this act. A violation of this act will not render any consumer contract void or voidable, or serve as a defense in an action to enforce the consumer contract for breach thereof.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 11, eff. Oct. 16, 1980.

56:12-12 Injunctions; attorney fees and court costs.

12. The Office of the Attorney General, the Division of Consumer Affairs, the Department of the Public Advocate, the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, in regard to contracts of insurance provided for in subsection c. of section 1 of this act (C.56:12-1), or any interested person may seek injunctive relief. The court may authorize reasonable attorney's fees, not to exceed $2,500.00, and court costs in such a proceeding.

L.1980,c.125,s.12; amended 1981, c.464, s.8 (s.11 amended 1982, c.88, s.6); 1982, c.88, s.5; 1994, c.58, s.56; 2005, c.155, s.96.
56:12-13. Severability
If any provision of this act, or its application to any person or circumstances, is held invalid, the remainder of the act and its application to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected.

L.1980, c. 125, s. 13, eff. Oct. 16, 1980.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR NEW JERSEY CASE?
Handling your New Jersey case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!! Do it right the first time by seeking legal advice from a competent New Jersey lawyer!
Let the Law Office of Paul DePetris help you with your New Jersey case. Not all New Jersey cases require you to pay expensive legal fees to get legal help.

WHY SHOULD NEW JERSEY PRO SE PLAINTIFFS AND NEW JERSEY PRO SE DEFENDANTS SEEK HELP FROM A NEW JERSEY LAWYER?
Handling your New Jersey case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!! Do it right the first time by seeking legal advice from a competent New Jersey lawyer!
Many New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants make the mistake of not consulting a New Jersey lawyer before filing New Jersey Court papers only to later learn that the New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants made serious mistakes that could cause them to lose their New Jersey case. Let the Law Office of Paul DePetris help you with your New Jersey case.

CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY COURT PERSONNEL FOR LEGAL ADVICE?
New Jersey Court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a New Jersey Court judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees. Most New Jersey Court employees are not trained New Jersey attorneys and therefore, they may not know what advice to give you. Working at the New Jersey Court as a non-judge is not the same as practicing law.

CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY COURT FORMS PROVIDED BY THE NEW JERSEY COURT?
The New Jersey Court usually provides certain types of New Jersey Court legal forms to the public and those forms are often very helpful. However, beware relying on New Jersey Court forms provided by the New Jersey Court – the New Jersey Court forms are often deceptively simple, while New Jersey cases often are much more complex than they first appear to be. There is simply no substitute for a competent New Jersey attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey who has experience handling New Jersey cases. New Jersey Court forms don’t talk and New Jersey Court forms and their directions rarely, if ever, cover every possible situation, set of facts or legal issue that may arise in a New Jersey case. Each New Jersey case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges. If you can afford a competent New Jersey attorney, it is best to have the New Jersey attorney prepare your New Jersey Court paperwork for you.

CAN I HANDLE A NEW JERSEY CASE MYSELF?
Many New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants can and do successfully handle New Jersey cases, from filing the first paperwork to the collection of a New Jersey Court judgment. However, many other New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants also make mistakes that lead to the dismissal of their New Jersey cases or that result in the entry of a New Jersey Court money judgment against them. The greater the money at stake, the greater the reason to consider using the services of a competent attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey to handle part or all of the New Jersey case. The following are reasons to use an attorney to handle part or all of your New Jersey case:
• New Jersey Court fees often change
• New Jersey Court rules often change
• New Jersey Court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a New Jersey Court judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees
• New Jersey Court forms available on websites may not cover every situation you may face in Court
• each New Jersey case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges
• it is very common for New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants to file inadequate or incorrect New Jersey Court complaints that result in the New Jersey Court complaints or answers to New Jersey Court complaints being rejected by the New Jersey Court or being dismissed by the New Jersey Court after filing and before or after trial because of procedural deficiencies.
• it is not uncommon for judges to get very frustrated by an unrepresented party’s lack of preparation or ignorance of the facts or law of the New Jersey case.
• a Court has the power to punish unprepared New Jersey plaintiffs and New Jersey defendants, such as by throwing their New Jersey case out of Court or limiting what they can present at the New Jersey Court trial.
• New Jersey has many published cases, laws, regulations, Court rules and rules of evidence that can be very tricky to understand and that can be used to prevent you from doing much of what you want to do at the New Jersey Court trial.
• it is very common for Courts to refuse to allow a party to use or refer to documents or items at the New Jersey Court trial that the person themselves never prepared. Often New Jersey plaintiffs and New Jersey defendants stumble into New Jersey Court with a video, photograph, bill or affidavit or other form of written statement, thinking they are going to use it as proof that they lost money or that they are not responsible for someone else’s damages, only to have a New Jersey Court judge tell the New Jersey plaintiffs and New Jersey defendants that it is not going to even consider such items or documents.
• without the proper preparation, items and documents may never be considered by the New Jersey Court. Also, if there are any legal issues to be dealt with at the New Jersey Court trial, you must be prepared to argue them, which may require you to refer to Court rules, evidence rules, laws, regulations or published cases.
• you cannot show up at the New Jersey Court expecting the judge hearing your New Jersey case to explain Court rules, evidence rules, Court procedure or the details of the law that applies to your New Jersey case. The judge hearing your New Jersey case is not permitted to give you legal advice.

It is important to remember that even if you have an attorney, you could lose your New Jersey case. Hiring an attorney to handle part or all of your New Jersey case does not guarantee your success. However, it may provide what is needed to win your New Jersey case or to avoid certain mistakes.

DOES THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS HAVE EXPERIENCE HANDLING NEW JERSEY CASES?
Yes. Paul DePetris has performed the following tasks:
• handled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey, from Bergen County New Jersey to Cumberland County New Jersey, including representations of individuals, small businesses and large corporations.
• settled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey.
• reviewed many New Jersey Court settlement agreements.
• enforced many New Jersey Court settlement agreements.
• provided New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants with New Jersey Court legal advice and prepared New Jersey Court legal forms
• prepared and filed many New Jersey Court complaints
• tried New Jersey Court jury trials
• mediated many New Jersey cases
• argued New Jersey Court motions
• handled New Jersey Court proof hearings
• handled New Jersey Court post judgment collection proceedings

Mr. DePetris has appeared before the Superior Court of New Jersey in the following counties:
• Atlantic County New Jersey Court
• Bergen County New Jersey Court
• Burlington County New Jersey Court
• Camden County New Jersey Court
• Cape May County New Jersey Court
• Cumberland County New Jersey Court
• Essex County New Jersey Court
• Gloucester County New Jersey Court
• Hudson County New Jersey Court
• Mercer County New Jersey Court
• Middlesex County New Jersey Court
• Monmouth County New Jersey Court
• Morris County New Jersey Court
• Ocean County New Jersey Court
• Passaic County New Jersey Court
• Salem County New Jersey Court
• Somerset County New Jersey Court
• Sussex County New Jersey Court
• Union County New Jersey Court
• Warren County New Jersey Court

IN WHAT NEW JERSEY COUNTIES WILL THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS HANDLE NEW JERSEY CASES?
The Law Office of Paul DePetris offers to handle and help individuals and businesses with New Jersey Court Claims cases in North, Central and Southern New Jersey, including cases in the following New Jersey counties:
• Atlantic County New Jersey Court
• Bergen County New Jersey Court
• Burlington County New Jersey Court
• Camden County New Jersey Court
• Cape May County New Jersey Court
• Cumberland County New Jersey Court
• Essex County New Jersey Court
• Gloucester County New Jersey Court
• Hudson County New Jersey Court
• Mercer County New Jersey Court
• Middlesex County New Jersey Court
• Monmouth County New Jersey Court
• Morris County New Jersey Court
• Ocean County New Jersey Court
• Passaic County New Jersey Court
• Salem County New Jersey Court
• Somerset County New Jersey Court
• Sussex County New Jersey Court
• Union County New Jersey Court
• Warren County New Jersey Court

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO HANDLE MY NEW JERSEY CASE FROM BEGINNING TO END?
In many situations, the Law Office of Paul DePetris offers alternatives to handling New Jersey cases for an hourly fee, such as by offering to handle your New Jersey case up to trial for a fixed fee or to help you handle your New Jersey case by yourself. Such flexible methods may allow you to keep the amount legal fees you spend on your New Jersey case to a fixed sum, while providing you the help you need to handle your New Jersey case. For a no obligation phone consultation about what the Firm might be able to do for you, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send an email to Mr. DePetris.
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