As I look over the cases I am currently handling for New Jersey policyholders, I have come to the realization that we have a lot of litigation in our future here in the Garden State. For this reason, I think it important for readers not familiar with New Jersey practice to take a look at the New Jersey Rules of Court. Over the next few months, I will look at rules that will most likely come into play in insurance litigation.

The first rule we are going to look at is Rule 1:1-2. It’s an important rule to know as it is often the last safe harbor when the Rules of Court will work an injustice against you or your client. The rule states, in pertinent part:

(a) The rules in Part I through Part VIII, inclusive, shall be construed to secure a just determination, simplicity in procedure, fairness in administration and the elimination of unjustifiable expense and delay. Unless otherwise stated, any rule may be relaxed or dispensed with by the court in which the action is pending if adherence to it would result in an injustice. In the absence of rule, the court may proceed in any manner compatible with these purposes and, in civil cases, consistent with the case management/trial management guidelines set forth in Appendix XX of these rules.

As we proceed through a tour of the New Jersey Court Rules you will see many of the rules are definitive and can have draconian penalties for a violation. However, the Supreme Court of New Jersey has wisely given trial judges wide discretion in the enforcement of the rules. The end result is a court must seek justice and can set aside a rule that would prevent justice from being done.

Next week, I will begin looking at the rules of pleading in New Jersey. If there are any rules or general procedure questions you have, please feel free to leave a comment or email me and I will be happy to address your question.