United States: Litigation Alert >> Internet Retailers Beware: NJ Truth-In-Consumer Contract, Warranty And Notice Act Impacts Online Terms And Conditions

New Jersey is widely considered to be among the most consumer-protective states in the country. One of New Jersey's broader consumer protection laws is the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA). While this statute is not new, of late it has become a favorite tool of plaintiffs' counsel in fashioning class action complaints seeking potentially staggering damages awards.

Recent cases under the TCCWNA have targeted various terms and conditions that retailers seek to impose for transacting business on their websites, such as contractual limitations of liability and waivers of consumers' rights to recover attorneys' fees. In light of the liberal construction courts and commentators alike have given the TCCWNA, retailers doing business over the Internet need to be particularly mindful of their online terms and conditions, which, if not carefully constructed, could expose those companies to expensive litigation.

The TCCWNA: The Belt-and-Suspenders of Consumer Protection

Under New Jersey's TCCWNA, no seller may offer to a consumer or prospective consumer any contract, warranty or notice that includes any provision that violates a clearly established legal right of the consumer or responsibility of the seller. While the act does not establish any new substantive rights or responsibilities on its own, in the words of one federal judge, it "bolsters rights and responsibilities established by other laws." The act provides New Jersey consumers with an additional method of enforcing rights afforded to them through other legislation, such as the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

For example, many nationwide companies attempt to deal with variations in state law by including blanket provisions such as "void where prohibited" in their contracts, terms and conditions. The TCCWNA impacts this approach, as it states that "[n]o consumer contract, notice or sign shall state that any of its provisions is or may be void, unenforceable or inapplicable in some jurisdictions without specifying which provisions are or are not void, unenforceable or inapplicable within the State of New Jersey." Based on New Jersey's strong interest in protecting its consumers, New Jersey courts have held that the TCCWNA must be interpreted broadly.

The Rise of TCCWNA Class Action Litigation

New Jersey enacted the TCCWNA in 1982. The statute was mostly overlooked, however, until recent years. Beginning in 2009, judicial decisions affirming the certification of TCCWNA class actions led to a significant uptick in TCCWNA class action claims. Recent lawsuits have targeted numerous types of retailers and businesses, attacking various forms of allegedly improper contracts and notices, such as mortgage loan agreements, rental and leasing contracts, product packaging, and even restaurant menus. Increasingly, class action plaintiffs have been targeting online retailers and e-commerce businesses, focusing on those retailers' website terms and conditions.

Plaintiffs' class action counsel find the TCCWNA appealing in part because, in addition to a civil penalty of no less than $100 per violation and/or the consumer's actual damages, the act provides for the consumer's recovery of reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs. Perhaps more importantly, the statute allows a consumer to bring a claim even if he or she has not suffered any actual harm as a result of the offending provision of the offer or contract, and regardless of the good faith intent of the company offering the offending term or provision. While recent federal case law has called into question plaintiffs' ability to bring claims in the U.S. District Courts absent any concrete injury, New Jersey's state courts may take a more liberal approach to plaintiffs' standing to sue.

The TCCWNA allows recovery for even seemingly trivial technical violations, and many commentators have argued for a construction of the act so broad that it would allow for claims by consumers who have not even entered into any transaction with the defendant company, but have instead merely seen the offending contract, notice or term. While no court has yet addressed this question directly, the potential for a significant award to a class consisting of Internet users who have come across an offending term or condition on a company website, for example, is evident. Compounding this concern, courts have held that non-New Jersey residents may also invoke the protections of the Act – and receive the $100 civil penalty award – allowing for nationwide classes of consumers in litigation brought pursuant to the act.

Courts have recognized certain defenses and limits to the scope of the act. For example, one federal court in New Jersey recently dismissed an individual TCCWNA claim, upholding a contractual provision that imposed a reasonable limitations period, after which consumers could no longer bring any claim – including a TCCWNA claim – against a company. Another federal court in New Jersey confirmed that an omission from a contract does not give rise to a TCCWNA claim. Nonetheless, the broad construction other courts have given the TCCWNA certainly warrants diligence and care in all consumer-facing communications and terms presented by companies doing business or offering products in New Jersey.

Bottom Line

New Jersey's TCCWNA allows consumers to recover damages or civil penalties from retailers who use terms and conditions that violate the consumers' clearly established legal rights. With the New Jersey courts' generally broad, consumer-friendly construction of this act, and a statutory penalty of $100 per violation regardless of whether the consumer has suffered any actual harm, the act increasingly has become a favorite among plaintiffs' class action counsel. Online retailers should actively review their terms and conditions, both to ensure compliance with New Jersey law and to be certain that those terms are constructed so as to afford the maximum protection available against these class action claims.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.