By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann, a Freehold, NJ Contract Attorney

New Jersey courts are authorized to grant declaratory relief in contract dispute cases under the Declaratory Judgment Act (DJA). The DJA specifically provides that parties to a contract may have a court determine “any question of construction or validity” and “obtain a declaration of rights, status or other legal relations” regarding the contract. See N.J.S.A. 2A:16-53. Contracts may be construed “before or after a breach thereof.” N.J.S.A. 2a:16-54. The purpose of the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act is “to settle and afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to rights, status and other legal relations”.

Finally, “[f]urther relief based on a declaratory judgment may be granted whenever necessary or proper, by application to a court having jurisdiction to grant the relief.” Our courts have recognized that the DCA should be liberally construed and administered to carry out its purpose, which is to expedite the resolution of contract dispute cases.

In addition to the Statutory Declaratory Judgment Act, the courts in New Jersey have also determined that there are several common law opportunities available for parties to obtain declaratory relief. They are: 1) there needs to be an actual controversy between the parties; 2) the plaintiff must have a direct or indirect interest (standing); 3) the operative facts of the case are not materially disputed.

New Jersey court rules also allow declaratory relief in legal actions to be taken. R. 4:67-1(b) will apply if the court is satisfied that the matter before it “may be disposed of in a summer manner”.

“Summary manner” means being disposed of on the record (which may be supplemented with interrogatories, depositions, or demands for admissions) or through minimal in-court testimony.

If you have questions regarding your NJ contract and expediting relief by the courts in a contract dispute case, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at