When New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency on March 9, he triggered the state’s emergency pricing law, which blocks sellers from increasing prices on emergency-related goods. In his article, Jacobson discusses why the law has caused some uncertainty for New Jersey businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Jacobson, neither New Jersey’s anti-gouging law nor the similar laws of other states were designed with a COVID-19-style emergency in mind. Unlike laws in other states, New Jersey’s emergency pricing law does not well define what kinds of “additional costs” arising from the emergency are legal to pass to purchasers, or what the “usual course of business” means when thinking about goods with seasonal pricing patterns.
Jacobson writes that the unprecedented scope and duration of the COVID-19 emergency will raise novel issues under the emergency pricing law, and that New Jersey businesses need clear guidance from the Attorney General’s Office about how the law would work during the pandemic.