Legal Memorandum: De Novo Standard for Contract Interpretation

Issue: Is the de novo standard of review for contract interpretation in New Jersey used when the only issue is a question of law?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: De novo; Contract interpretation; Question of law
Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 01/01/2012

The interpretation of a contract is generally a question of law which is reviewed by the appellate court de novo.  Fastenberg v. Prudential Life Ins. Co. of Am., 309 N.J. Super. 415, 420 (App. Div. 1998); see Arias v Avis Rent-a-Car Sys., Inc., (unpublished) No. A-534-07T1, (N.J. Super. Ct App. Div. June 1, 2009) (“Our standard of review is plenary on questions of law. [citations omitted] It is also plenary with respect to interpretation and construction of unambiguous terms of contracts.”).  In such cases, the court owes “no deference” to the opinion of the lower court on the legal issue.  See State v. Bradley, 420 N.J. Super. 138, 141 (App. Div. 2011).


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