P.L. 1997, CHAPTER 359, approved January 15, 1998
Assembly, No. 2457
An Act permitting the Attorney General to recover costs in certain consumer fraud actions and amending P.L. 1971, c. 247.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 7 of P.L.1971, c. 247 (C.56:8-19) is amended to read as follows:
7. Any person who suffers any ascertainable loss of moneys or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by another person of any method, act, or practice declared unlawful under this act or the act hereby amended and supplemented may bring an action or assert a counterclaim therefor in any court of competent jurisdiction. In any action under this section the court shall, in addition to any other appropriate legal or equitable relief, award threefold the damages sustained by any person in interest. In all actions under this section, including those brought by the Attorney General, the court shall also award reasonable attorneys' fees, filing fees and reasonable costs of suit.
(cf: P.L.1971, c.247, s.7)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill amends current law to allow the State to recover reasonable costs of suit, including attorneys' and filing fees, for successful actions brought by the Attorney General under the consumer fraud law. While currently the court may award costs of suit to private litigants who successfully sue under this law, the State must absorb its court costs regardless of the outcome of a case.
The Division of Consumer Affairs currently spends $12.5 million annually on protecting consumer rights and investigating consumer complaints, including $1.0 million on court costs directly related to the enforcement of the consumer fraud law. This bill would provide the State with the same opportunity for recovery of such costs as is afforded to private litigants by making violators of the law potentially liable for actions brought on behalf of the public by the Attorney General.
Permits Attorney General to recover costs in certain consumer fraud actions.