Repossession and Breach of the Peace

New Jersey Courts have analyzed what constitutes a breach of the peace.

“Breach of peace,” as used in the Code, should be construed according to the ordinary and usual meaning of the term, and ordinarily contemplates violence or the threat of violence. Slowinski v. Valley Nat. Bank, 264 N.J. Super. 172, 187, 624 A.2d 85, 93 (App. Div. 1993), emphasis added.

The courts have determined that it is a question of facts as to whether there has been a wrongful repossession for a breach of the peace, and that should be applied to this case. The plaintiff has alleged there was a threat of violence (arrest) to force the plaintiff to return the boat. It worked because the plaintiff returned the boat in order not to get arrested by what he thought was a Sheriff coming to arrest him and take him to jail. This is the type of conduct that creates a jury question on this issue.

The bank’s failure to sell the collateral and failure to send to auction creates a question as to whether the bank properly followed the repossession procedure. The “goods” were placed on the repossession company’s lot in Jackson, New Jersey. There were no bids at the auction. The bank cannot prove that they properly advertised the auction or had a valid auctioneer conduct the auction. Moreover, the goods were damaged on the repossession and ruined the collateral. There are serious doubts as to whether the repossession notices were even proper!!

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