The other day while researching an issue I came across a case that required noting. It is not a new case but it discussed an issue I have come across several times over the last year. If you are a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company, you cannot represent the business in Court. All business entities must hire an attorney to represent the business in Court, with few exceptions. This is a requirement set out by the New Jersey Supreme Court in the Court Rules. R.1:21-1.
That means that if your partnership, LLC or corporation is owned money from a customer, you as an owner of that company cannot file a lawsuit in Court. That means if your company is sued, you as an owner of the company, cannot file an answer on the company’s behalf. If you do file a complaint or answer on behalf of the company, and for some reason the Court allows it, you could spend months if not years in litigation just to have the judgment voided by the other side because your company was not represented by an attorney.
As I noted above there are a few limited exceptions to the general rule. One of the exceptions apply in cases under worth $3,000 or less and which could have been filed in small claims. There are two exceptions that apply to municipal court. In all of these exceptions the company could be represented by an authorized officer or employee. Lastly, a partner of a general partner, not a limited partnership, can represent the business in summary actions for possessions of property.