On August 5, 2022, the Supreme Court of New Jersey released amendments to the Court Rules governing practice in New Jersey’s state courts, which will take effect on September 1, 2022. We highlight two of the main changes in the new rules that impact commercial litigation.
Appellate Division Briefs
New Jersey lawyers and litigants are used to seeing appellate briefs that look like they were produced by an old-fashioned typewriter in Courier New. Vexing to attorneys and litigants alike, Courier New takes up more room and as a monospaced (non-proportional) font is difficult to read. (The Requirements and Suggestions for Typography in Briefs and Other Papers published by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals gives a good explanation.) Starting September 1, 2022, appellate briefs in New Jersey will be required to be in 14-point Times New Roman, or similar proportional font. With the switch to a smaller font, the Court is also reducing the page limits for appellate briefs: 50 pages for the parties’ initial briefs (down from 65 pages); 15 pages for Reply briefs (down from 20 pages); and 75 pages for a brief including a cross-appeal (down from 90 pages).
Offer of Judgment Rule
The new Rules also include several changes and additions to the “Offer of Judgment” Rule (Rule 4:58), which allows parties to offer an adversary a monetary judgment to end the case:
- A party making an offer of judgment may withdraw it any time before the time for acceptance by filing a withdrawal.
- If the offer is not accepted, the rules allow the offering party to recover attorneys’ fees in certain situations. The new Rules clarify that the non-accepting party has the burden to show this fee shifting creates a hardship to avoid those consequences.
- In cases where there are multiple defendants, the revised Rule now allows for parties to make individual offers to specific defendants or global, uniform offer to multiple defendants. Defendants will also be able to respond with global counteroffers.
- The revised Rule now clarifies that acceptance and payment of an offer of judgment will generally not be deemed a judgment against the accepting party. Instead, acceptance and payment of the offer should be followed up with a Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice that will dispose of all claims covered by the accepted offer. Payment of an accepted offer of judgment should also be made within 30 days, otherwise the offeror may withdraw its offer or seek entry of a final judgment.
For more information on these amendments to the Court Rules governing practice in New Jersey's state courts, please contact Partner Lawrence Bluestone, Esq., who specializes in Complex Commercial Litigation via email here or call 973.533.0777.