In Michael Booth’s Oct. 29 New Jersey Law Journal article, “Bill Would Nix Counsel Fees for Minor Consumer Fraud Claims,” opponents of the effort to reform the state’s consumer law are twice quoted as saying consumers would suffer because competent attorneys will not take these cases if fee shifting is limited to serious offenses. Rather than advancing their argument, these comments highlight their proponents’ true concern—loss of a lucrative business model, not justice.

In the vast majority of consumer fraud cases, the time and money spent pursuing the claim will far exceed the alleged damages. In order to encourage lawyers to take on these otherwise money-losing cases, the legislature included one-sided fee-shifting provisions in the states Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). Unfortunately, fee shifting has even been allowed in cases where the consumer suffered no damage, but a suit was brought anyway under one of the act’s myriad technical provisions, such as omitting a date or printing in the wrong size font.

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