Please Remain in Your Seats – The Sky is Not Falling!

On December 21, 2020, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued its ruling and opinion in the case of Delaney v. Trent S. Dickey and Sills Cummins & Gross, P.C., (“Sills”), a law firm located in New Jersey.

Initially, when Brian Delaney, a client of Sills, refused to pay outstanding fees allegedly owed by Delaney to Sills for professional services Sills invoked the arbitration provision contained in its Engagement Agreement with Delaney.  However, thereafter Delaney brought a separate action against Sills for malpractice and moved to stay their fee dispute, and have the malpractice claim proceed in the Chancery Division.  That request was granted, and the Court ruled that both of these disputes were subject to the arbitration provisions of the parties’ Engagement Agreement.  However, in December, 2020, the Appellate Division ruled, to the surprise of many attorneys and other commentators, that the malpractice action was not subject to the arbitration provisions of their Engagement Agreement and, that, therefore, Delaney could proceed with such action in the Law Division.

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