Fax and Email Given the OK by NJ Supreme Court

Fax and Email Given the OK by NJ Supreme Court

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that fax and email notification are sufficient when cancelling a real estate contract as part of the Attorney Review process (Conley v. Guerrero, Docket No. A-65-15).  This issue had previously caused confusion and disagreement among attorneys. With the Court’s ruling, however, this issue should be cleared up.

The history behind this ruling is complicated. In a 1983 decision, the NJ Supreme Court determined that real estate contracts must be cancelled by certified mail, telegram, or personal delivery.  In 2014 this topic was litigated in two separate cases. The two courts in these cases reached opposite conclusions on whether email and fax could be used. This only further confused the issue. With its decision, however, the NJ Supreme Court gave its official approval to attorneys using modern technology to communicate during the Attorney Review process.

What is Attorney Review?

The Attorney Review period is an important part of New Jersey real estate transactions. It provides a 3-day period where buyers and sellers can have a real estate contract reviewed by their lawyers to make objections, change certain terms, or cancel the contract all together. During this time frame, the contract can be cancelled by either party for any reason. In most realtor-provided contracts, the Attorney Review clause requires this process to occur through certified mail, telegram, or personal delivery. This is despite the fact that email communications are often quicker and more effective in guaranteeing that a message reaches the recipient. The NJ Supreme Court recognized this, and has effectively changed this outdated requirement with its recent ruling.

The Attorney Review process is one reason why it is important to have a lawyer when buying or selling real estate. An attorney can also help you if problems are uncovered by home inspection, or if an issue such as radon comes up. Not only is it important to have an attorney, but it is also important to make sure your attorney is aware of recent changes in the law. If you would like to talk with one of our lawyers, please contact us today!

If you are interested in reading the NJ Supreme Court’s full opinion, click here.