Consumer Fraud and the Uniform Arbitration Act

As previously stated in many of these posts, the dealers frequently use arbitration agreements as a method by which they bypass the court system. There are numerous organizations, including JAMS, NAF and American Arbitration Association. All of these organizations ordinarily have consumer due process protocols for these arbitrations. The question is what happens when you win an arbitration and the dealership refuses to pay the arbitration award? Unfortunately, this is not an easy process, but there is a provision in the Uniform Arbitration Act for the Superior Court to confirm an arbitration award entered by an arbitrator. Basically, the petitioner must file an order to show cause (fancy words for a court action) to confirm the arbitration award so as it can be entered into the docket system and be docketed against the dealer’s property. There is an entire provision under the court rules for a filing of an order to show cause and it is relatively complicated. Nonetheless, the Court is permitted to confirm this arbitration award so long as there is not a basis to vacate the arbitration award filed by the loser of the arbitration. Once the arbitration award is confirmed by the Superior Court, it becomes a judgment docketed and the petitioner or plaintiff may use this docketed judgment or award as any other docketed judgment or award. Moreover, the Uniform Arbitration Act provides for the payment of counsel fees and costs associated with domesticating or confirming an arbitration award. The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act also provides for the payment of counsel fees with the collection of a consumer fraud judgment. This was decided in the case of Tankersley, wherein the Appellate Division held that an attorney who was attempting to collect judgment on a consumer fraud award would be entitled to counsel fees and costs. The Tankersley case involved the collection of a judgment against a car dealership.

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