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May 19, 2011

A State Bar-backed bill in the Legislature is aimed at reducing the statute of limitations in malpractice actions against licensed professionals, including attorneys. The measure, A-3929, was introduced on May 5, and amends N.J.S.A. 2A:14-1 to shorten the statue of limitations period from six to two years. The bill would also eliminate fee shifting, and thereby, overrule Saffer v. Willoughby, 143 N.J. 256 (1996), which requires attorneys to pay counsel fees to a prevailing party in legal malpractice cases. The bill reads that attorneys' fees "shall not be awarded in any action subject to the limitations period in this subsection, except where authorized by statute or ... Rules of Court."
This bill will provide businesses offering professional services the ability to predict, with greater certainty, potential liabilities and to plan for such liabilities accordingly. New Jersey’s six year statute of limitations with regards to legal malpractice claims is the longest in the region. Furthermore, a reduction in the statute of limitations will allow insurance companies to efficiently price their product with greater confidence, while encouraging business competition in the marketplace.

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