In the courts of the State of New Jersey, adult individuals generally may prosecute or defend a civil action in person, however, state law generally prohibits any business entity other than a sole proprietorship from appearing in any court action in the State except through an attorney authorized to practice law in New Jersey.
Rule 1:21-1(c) prohibits, (With specific exceptions), a business entity other than a sole propriety from appearing or filing any paper “…in any action in any court of this State except through an attorney authorized to practice law in this State.” Therefore, corporations must be represented in court by counsel. See Globe Media Grp., LLC v. Cisneros, 403 N.J. Super. 574, 577 (App. Div. 2008); Olympic Indus. Park v. P.L., Inc., 208 N.J. Super. 577, 580-81 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 104 N.J. 453, 517 (1986). Rule 1:21(c) extends to all legal proceedings and, as such, requires corporations to be represented by counsel at mediations as well.
The limited exceptions contained in the rule represent the full extent of conditions in which a business entity may appear pro se, including: R. 1:21-1A (professional corporations for the practice of law); R. 1:21-1B (limited liability companies for the practice of law); R. 1:21-1C (limited liability partnerships for the practice of law); R. 6:11 (appearances in small claims actions); R. 7:6-2(a) (pleas in municipal court); R. 7:8-7(a) (presence of defendant in municipal court); and by R. 7:12-4(d) (municipal court violations bureau).
This paragraph of the rule makes clear that any entity, regardless of its purpose or organization, must be represented in court by an attorney. The bar on lay representation of corporations extends to all business entities other than those specifically listed in, and in all circumstances but for, those listed. Such circumstances include when a plaintiff or defendant is a corporation, partnership, limited liability company, etc., and the claim is less than $3,000 (R. 6:11), when a partner in a general partnership is appearing pro se in a summary action for the possession of a premises (R. 6:10), and when a party is a Federal Government agency (R. 1:21-1(d)).
If your company has been sued or your company wishes to bring suit in the State of New Jersey you must contact an attorney to represent your company’s interests.