Cecinini Law Group Logo
Chancery Court Litigation2023-02-26T17:38:14+00:00

Chancery Court Litigation

New Jersey’s Court for Real Estate and Probate Disputes

The Court of Equity

The Chancery Division handles cases where the primary requested relief is a tangible thing, or the ordering of a particular action or inaction – rather than monetary damages. It also handles estate controversies and litigation. It concerns itself with crafting the most fair and equitable outcomes in matters threatening irreparable harm, where ordinary monetary damages would not make the parties whole. Some types of cases this unique New Jersey Court handles are:

  • Real estate contract disputes where a party seeks specific performance (ie the forced sale of real property in accordance with a contract)
  • Real estate disputes concerning property lines and encroachments
  • Real estate actions seeking to quiet title (clarifying who owns a particular property when there is a title dispute or inconsistency, including in cases of adverse possession)
  • Real estate actions seeking to stop a nuisance (such as where an owner’s construction or actions on its property is causing damage to its neighbor’s property)
  • Real estate actions where a neighbor refuses to provide access to engineers for safety inspections, preventing the requesting party from being able to obtain a permit for construction.
  • Real estate related actions where a partner refuses to provide an accounting or otherwise comply with its obligations under the partnership agreement
  • Real estate related actions for the partition of a property that is owned by two parties who cannot get along, or where one wants to sell but the other refuses.
  • Probate actions where a party seeks to be made administrator in complex circumstances, or seeks to prevent the appointment of a particular administrator or executor.
  • Probate actions disputing ownership of assets within an estate.
  • Probate actions forcing an executor or administrator to comply with its obligations, such as to provide an accounting or make a distribution to beneficiaries.

Chancery is a Niche specialty with very different rules from other civil courts

The history of the Chancery Courts goes all the way back to medieval England in the 11th century. The “common law” sometimes did not have an adequate remedy available for a given situation, or its particular remedy was seen as too harsh and unfair, and in those circumstances a party could appeal to the Chancery Court for a just outcome in its case. In recent decades, many states have given equitable powers to the regular civil division of their judiciaries. But New Jersey is one of the few that maintains a separate Chancery Division, and the judge that gets assigned to this division is usually one of the most experienced and accomplished in that County’s judiciary ranks. This is because the issues the Chancery Division deals with are some of the most important – they involve a potentially irreparable harm to the parties concerned. They also tend to be some of the most complex cases, often involving questions of law spanning many areas of legal expertise, and often requiring the crafting of nuanced and very specific relief. But only certain types of cases can be heard in Chancery, and some types of cases must be heard in Chancery. And the rules governing Chancery are different from the normal civil courts. It involves a number of “equitable maxims” that often guide the judge’s decisions out of the interests of justice and fairness, rather than a strict adherence to the letter of the law despite inequitable outcomes that might cause in some particular circumstances. This is not to say that the law does not matter to a Chancery judge, and in fact one of the equitable maxims is “Chancery follows the law”. But another equitable maxim is that Chancery “will not knowingly become an instrument of injustice.” So the Chancery judge often has a lot of discretion in how he or she can make decisions. Although this is not an exhaustive list, the Chancery court’s jurisdiction includes:

Matters where the primary relief being sought is not monetary. This includes actions such as Quiet Title, Adverse Possession, Specific Performance of a contract, Nuisance actions, and Partition of real property or a business partnership.

Requests for an injunction – an Order directing another party to do, or not to do, something. For example if a party is undertaking construction in a dense urban area, and the construction department requires that party’s neighbor to allow a safety inspection under NJAC 5:34-2.34 before issuing the permit, but the neighbor refuses the inspection – a Chancery judge might force the neighbor to allow the safety inspection.

Estate matters. This includes parties who want to be appointed administrator but are not family of the deceased, or where the appointment is contested by another family member or beneficiary. It also includes actions challenging the actions of (or demanding an accounting from) fiduciaries including executors, administrators, trustees and guardians.

We specialize in all areas of real and probate estate law. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Call (201) 354-9305 now to speak directly with an attorney, or feel free to e-mail your inquiry directly to office@cecininilaw.com. We welcome your questions!

Go to Top