Article 2.

Commencement of Action; Service of Process, Pleadings, Motions, and Orders.

Rule 3. Commencement of action.

(a)        A civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court. The clerk shall enter the date of filing on the original complaint, and such entry shall be prima facie evidence of the date of filing.

A civil action may also be commenced by the issuance of a summons when

(1)        A person makes application to the court stating the nature and purpose of his action and requesting permission to file his complaint within 20 days and

(2)        The court makes an order stating the nature and purpose of the action and granting the requested permission.

The summons and the court's order shall be served in accordance with the provisions of Rule 4. When the complaint is filed it shall be served in accordance with the provisions of Rule 4 or by registered mail if the plaintiff so elects. If the complaint is not filed within the period specified in the clerk's order, the action shall abate.

(b)        Repealed by Session Laws 2017-158, s. 20, effective July 21, 2017.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1987, c. 859, s. 2; 2017-158, s. 20.)

 

Rule 4. Process.

(a)        Summons - Issuance; who may serve. - Upon the filing of the complaint, summons shall be issued forthwith, and in any event within five days. The complaint and summons shall be delivered to some proper person for service. In this State, such proper person shall be the sheriff of the county where service is to be made or some other person duly authorized by law to serve summons. Outside this State, such proper person shall be anyone who is not a party and is not less than 21 years of age or anyone duly authorized to serve summons by the law of the place where service is to be made. Upon request of the plaintiff separate or additional summons shall be issued against any defendants. A summons is issued when, after being filled out and dated, it is signed by the officer having authority to do so. The date the summons bears shall be prima facie evidence of the date of issue.

(b)        Summons - Contents. - The summons shall run in the name of the State and be dated and signed by the clerk, assistant clerk, or deputy clerk of the court in the county in which the action is commenced. It shall contain the title of the cause and the name of the court and county wherein the action has been commenced. It shall be directed to the defendant or defendants and shall notify each defendant to appear and answer within 30 days after its service upon him and further that if he fails so to appear, the plaintiff will apply to the court for the relief demanded in the complaint. It shall set forth the name and address of plaintiff 's attorney, or if there be none, the name and address of plaintiff. If a request for admission is served with the summons, the summons shall so state.

(c)        Summons - Return. - Personal service or substituted personal service of summons as prescribed by Rules 4(j) and (j1) must be made within 60 days after the date of the issuance of summons. When a summons has been served upon every party named in the summons, it shall be returned immediately to the clerk who issued it, with notation thereon of its service.

Failure to make service within the time allowed or failure to return a summons to the clerk after it has been served on every party named in the summons shall not invalidate the summons. If the summons is not served within the time allowed upon every party named in the summons, it shall be returned immediately upon the expiration of such time by the officer to the clerk of the court who issued it with notation thereon of its nonservice and the reasons therefor as to every such party not served, but failure to comply with this requirement shall not invalidate the summons.

(d)       Summons - Extension; endorsement, alias and pluries. - When any defendant in a civil action is not served within the time allowed for service, the action may be continued in existence as to such defendant by either of the following methods of extension:

(1)        The plaintiff may secure an endorsement upon the original summons for an extension of time within which to complete service of process. Return of the summons so endorsed shall be in the same manner as the original process. Such endorsement may be secured within 90 days after the issuance of summons or the date of the last prior endorsement, or

(2)        The plaintiff may sue out an alias or pluries summons returnable in the same manner as the original process. Such alias or pluries summons may be sued out at any time within 90 days after the date of issue of the last preceding summons in the chain of summonses or within 90 days of the last prior endorsement.

Provided, in tax and assessment foreclosures under G.S. 47-108.25 and G.S. 105-374, the first endorsement may be made at any time within two years after the issuance of the original summons, and subsequent endorsements may thereafter be made as in other actions; or an alias or pluries summons may be sued out at any time within two years after the issuance of the original summons, and after the issuance of such alias or pluries summons, the chain of summonses may be kept up as in any other action.

Provided, for service upon a defendant in a place not within the United States, the first endorsement may be made at any time within two years after the issuance of the original summons, and subsequent endorsements may thereafter be made at least once every two years; or an alias or pluries summons may be sued out at any time within two years after the issuance of the original summons, and after the issuance of such alias or pluries summons, the chain of summonses may be kept up as in any other action if sued out within two years of the last preceding summons in the chain of summonses or within two years of the last prior endorsement.

Provided, further, the methods of extension may be used interchangeably in any case and regardless of the form of the preceding extension.

(e)        Summons - Discontinuance. - When there is neither endorsement by the clerk nor issuance of alias or pluries summons within the time specified in Rule 4(d), the action is discontinued as to any defendant not theretofore served with summons within the time allowed. Thereafter, alias or pluries summons may issue, or an extension be endorsed by the clerk, but, as to such defendant, the action shall be deemed to have commenced on the date of such issuance or endorsement.

(f)        Summons - Date of multiple summonses. - If the plaintiff shall cause separate or additional summonses to be issued as provided in Rule 4(a), the date of issuance of such separate or additional summonses shall be considered the same as that of the original summons for purposes of endorsement or alias summons under Rule 4(d).

(g)        Summons - Docketing by clerk. - The clerk shall keep a record in which he shall note the day and hour of issuance of every summons, whether original, alias, pluries, or endorsement thereon. When the summons is returned, the clerk shall note on the record the date of the return and the fact as to service or non-service.

(h)        Summons - When proper officer not available. - If at any time there is not in a county a proper officer, capable of executing process, to whom summons or other process can be delivered for service, or if a proper officer refuses or neglects to execute such process, or if such officer is a party to or otherwise interested in the action or proceeding, the clerk of the issuing court, upon the facts being verified before him by written affidavit of the plaintiff or his agent or attorney, shall appoint some suitable person who, after he accepts such process for service, shall execute such process in the same manner, with like effect, and subject to the same liabilities, as if such person were a proper officer regularly serving process in that county.

(h1)      Summons - When process returned unexecuted. - If a proper officer returns a summons or other process unexecuted, the plaintiff or his agent or attorney may cause service to be made by anyone who is not less than 21 years of age, who is not a party to the action, and who is not related by blood or marriage to a party to the action or to a person upon whom service is to be made. Except for claims severed by a magistrate pursuant to G.S. 7A-223(b1), this subsection shall not apply to executions pursuant to Article 28 of Chapter 1 or summary ejectment pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 42 of the General Statutes.

(i)         Summons - Amendment. - At any time, before or after judgment, in its discretion and upon such terms as it deems just, the court may allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended, unless it clearly appears that material prejudice would result to substantial rights of the party against whom the process issued.

(j)         Process - Manner of service to exercise personal jurisdiction. -

In any action commenced in a court of this State having jurisdiction of the subject matter and grounds for personal jurisdiction as provided in G.S. 1-75.4, the manner of service of process within or without the State shall be as follows:

(1)        Natural Person. - Except as provided in subdivision (2) below, upon a natural person by one of the following:

a.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the natural person or by leaving copies thereof at the defendant's dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein.

b.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process or by serving process upon such agent or the party in a manner specified by any statute.

c.         By mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the party to be served, and delivering to the addressee.

d.         By depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the party to be served, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

e.         By mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint by signature confirmation as provided by the United States Postal Service, addressed to the party to be served, and delivering to the addressee.

(2)        Natural Person under Disability. - Upon a natural person under disability by serving process in any manner prescribed in this section (j) for service upon a natural person and, in addition, where required by paragraph a or b below, upon a person therein designated.

a.         Where the person under disability is a minor, process shall be served separately in any manner prescribed for service upon a natural person upon a parent or guardian having custody of the child, or if there be none, upon any other person having the care and control of the child. If there is no parent, guardian, or other person having care and control of the child when service is made upon the child, then service of process must also be made upon a guardian ad litem who has been appointed pursuant to Rule 17.

b.         If the plaintiff actually knows that a person under disability is under guardianship of any kind, process shall be served separately upon his guardian in any manner applicable and appropriate under this section (j). If the plaintiff does not actually know that a guardian has been appointed when service is made upon a person known to him to be incompetent to have charge of his affairs, then service of process must be made upon a guardian ad litem who has been appointed pursuant to Rule 17.

(3)        The State. - Upon the State by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

(4)        An Agency of the State. -

a.         Upon an agency of the State by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the process agent appointed by the agency in the manner hereinafter provided; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to said process agent; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the process agent, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

b.         Every agency of the State shall appoint a process agent by filing with the Attorney General the name and address of an agent upon whom process may be served.

c.         If any agency of the State fails to comply with paragraph b above, then service upon such agency may be made by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the Attorney General, or to a deputy or assistant attorney general; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

d.         For purposes of this rule, the term "agency of the State" includes every agency, institution, board, commission, bureau, department, division, council, member of Council of State, or officer of the State government of the State of North Carolina, but does not include counties, cities, towns, villages, other municipal corporations or political subdivisions of the State, county or city boards of education, other local public districts, units, or bodies of any kind, or private corporations created by act of the General Assembly.

(5)        Counties, Cities, Towns, Villages and Other Local Public Bodies. -

a.         Upon a city, town, or village by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to its mayor, city manager or clerk; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to its mayor, city manager or clerk; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the mayor, city manager, or clerk, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

b.         Upon a county by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to its county manager or to the chairman, clerk or any member of the board of commissioners for such county; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to its county manager or to the chairman, clerk, or any member of this board of commissioners for such county; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the county manager or to the chairman, clerk, or any member of the board of commissioners of that county, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

c.         Upon any other political subdivision of the State, any county or city board of education, or other local public district, unit, or body of any kind (i) by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer or director thereof, (ii) by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent or attorney-in-fact authorized by appointment or by statute to be served or to accept service in its behalf, (iii) by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the officer, director, agent, or attorney-in-fact as specified in (i) and (ii), or (iv) by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the officer, director, agent, or attorney-in-fact as specified in (i) and (ii), delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

d.         In any case where none of the officials, officers or directors specified in paragraphs a, b and c can, after due diligence, be found in the State, and that fact appears by affidavit to the satisfaction of the court, or a judge thereof, such court or judge may grant an order that service upon the party sought to be served may be made by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the Attorney General or any deputy or assistant attorney general of the State of North Carolina; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the Attorney General or any deputy or assistant attorney general of the State of North Carolina; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the Attorney General or any deputy or assistant attorney general of the State of North Carolina, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

(6)        Domestic or Foreign Corporation. - Upon a domestic or foreign corporation by one of the following:

a.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer, director, or managing agent of the corporation or by leaving copies thereof in the office of such officer, director, or managing agent with the person who is apparently in charge of the office.

b.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process or by serving process upon such agent or the party in a manner specified by any statute.

c.         By mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the officer, director or agent to be served as specified in paragraphs a and b.

d.         By depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the officer, director, or agent to be served as specified in paragraphs a. and b., delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

(7)        Partnerships. - Upon a general or limited partnership:

a.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to any general partner, or to any attorney-in-fact or agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process in its behalf; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to any general partner, or to any attorney-in-fact or agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process in its behalf; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to any general partner or to any attorney-in-fact or agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process in its behalf, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt; or by leaving copies thereof in the office of such general partner, attorney-in-fact or agent with the person who is apparently in charge of the office. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

b.         If relief is sought against a partner specifically, a copy of the summons and of the complaint must be served on such partner as provided in this section (j).

(8)        Other Unincorporated Associations and Their Officers. - Upon any unincorporated association, organization, or society other than a partnership by one of the following:

a.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer, director, managing agent or member of the governing body of the unincorporated association, organization or society, or by leaving copies thereof in the office of such officer, director, managing agent or member of the governing body with the person who is apparently in charge of the office.

b.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process or by serving process upon such agent or the party in a manner specified by any statute.

c.         By mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the officer, director, agent or member of the governing body to be served as specified in paragraphs a and b.

d.         By depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the officer, director, agent, or member of the governing body to be served as specified in paragraphs a. and b., delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

(9)        Foreign States and Their Political Subdivisions, Agencies, and Instrumentalities. - Upon a foreign state or a political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608.

(j1)       Service by publication on party that cannot otherwise be served. - A party that cannot with due diligence be served by personal delivery, registered or certified mail, or by a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) may be served by publication. Except in actions involving jurisdiction in rem or quasi in rem as provided in section (k), service of process by publication shall consist of publishing a notice of service of process by publication once a week for three successive weeks in a newspaper that is qualified for legal advertising in accordance with G.S. 1-597 and G.S. 1-598 and circulated in the area where the party to be served is believed by the serving party to be located, or if there is no reliable information concerning the location of the party then in a newspaper circulated in the county where the action is pending. If the party's post-office address is known or can with reasonable diligence be ascertained, there shall be mailed to the party at or immediately prior to the first publication a copy of the notice of service of process by publication. The mailing may be omitted if the post-office address cannot be ascertained with reasonable diligence. Upon completion of such service there shall be filed with the court an affidavit showing the publication and mailing in accordance with the requirements of G.S. 1-75.10(a)(2), the circumstances warranting the use of service by publication, and information, if any, regarding the location of the party served.

The notice of service of process by publication shall (i) designate the court in which the action has been commenced and the title of the action, which title may be indicated sufficiently by the name of the first plaintiff and the first defendant; (ii) be directed to the defendant sought to be served; (iii) state either that a pleading seeking relief against the person to be served has been filed or has been required to be filed therein not later than a date specified in the notice; (iv) state the nature of the relief being sought; (v) require the defendant being so served to make defense to such pleading within 40 days after a date stated in the notice, exclusive of such date, which date so stated shall be the date of the first publication of notice, or the date when the complaint is required to be filed, whichever is later, and notify the defendant that upon his failure to do so the party seeking service of process by publication will apply to the court for the relief sought; (vi) in cases of attachment, state the information required by G.S. 1-440.14; (vii) be subscribed by the party seeking service or his attorney and give the post-office address of such party or his attorney; and (viii) be substantially in the following form:

NOTICE OF SERVICE OF PROCESS BY PUBLICATION

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA _______________ COUNTY

 

In the _______________________ Court

 

[Title of action or special proceeding] [To Person to be served]:

Take notice that a pleading seeking relief against you (has been filed) (is required to be filed not later than ____________, _____) in the above-entitled (action) (special proceeding). The nature of the relief being sought is as follows:

(State nature.)

You are required to make defense to such pleading not later than (____________, _____) and upon your failure to do so the party seeking service against you will apply to the court for the relief sought.

This, the ________ day of __________, ____

________________________ (Attorney) (Party)

_______________________________ (Address)

(j2)       Proof of service. - Proof of service of process shall be as follows:

(1)        Personal Service. - Before judgment by default may be had on personal service, proof of service must be provided in accordance with the requirements of G.S. 1-75.10(a)(1).

(2)        Registered or Certified Mail, Signature Confirmation, or Designated Delivery Service. - Before judgment by default may be had on service by registered or certified mail, signature confirmation, or by a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) with delivery receipt, the serving party shall file an affidavit with the court showing proof of such service in accordance with the requirements of G.S. 1-75.10(a)(4), 1-75.10(a)(5), or 1-75.10(a)(6), as appropriate. This affidavit together with the return receipt, copy of the proof of delivery provided by the United States Postal Service, or delivery receipt, signed by the person who received the mail or delivery if not the addressee raises a presumption that the person who received the mail or delivery and signed the receipt was an agent of the addressee authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process or was a person of suitable age and discretion residing in the addressee's dwelling house or usual place of abode. In the event the presumption described in the preceding sentence is rebutted by proof that the person who received the receipt at the addressee's dwelling house or usual place of abode was not a person of suitable age and discretion residing therein, the statute of limitation may not be pleaded as a defense if the action was initially commenced within the period of limitation and service of process is completed within 60 days from the date the service is declared invalid. Service shall be complete on the day the summons and complaint are delivered to the address. As used in this subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt provided by a designated delivery service.

(3)        Publication. - Before judgment by default may be had on service by publication, the serving party shall file an affidavit with the court showing the circumstances warranting the use of service by publication, information, if any, regarding the location of the party served which was used in determining the area in which service by publication was printed and proof of service in accordance with G.S. 1-75.10(a)(2).

(j3)       Service in a foreign country. - Unless otherwise provided by federal law, service upon a defendant, other than an infant or an incompetent person, may be effected in a place not within the United States:

(1)        By any internationally agreed means reasonably calculated to give notice, such as those means authorized by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents; or

(2)        If there is no internationally agreed means of service or the applicable international agreement allows other means of service, provided that service is reasonably calculated to give notice:

a.         In the manner prescribed by the law of the foreign country for service in that country in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction;

b.         As directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory or letter of request; or

c.         Unless prohibited by the law of the foreign country, by

1.         Delivery to the individual personally of a copy of the summons and the complaint and, upon a corporation, partnership, association or other such entity, by delivery to an officer or a managing or general agent;

2.         Any form of mail requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and dispatched by the clerk of the court to the party to be served; or

(3)        By other means not prohibited by international agreement as may be directed by the court.

Service under subdivision (2)c.1. or (3) of this subsection may be made by any person authorized by subsection (a) of this Rule or who is designated by order of the court or by the foreign court.

On request, the clerk shall deliver the summons to the plaintiff for transmission to the person or the foreign court or officer who will make the service. Proof of service may be made as prescribed in G.S. 1-75.10, by the order of the court, or by the law of the foreign country.

Proof of service by mail shall include an affidavit or certificate of addressing and mailing by the clerk of court.

(j4)       Process or judgment by default not to be attacked on certain grounds. - No party may attack service of process or a judgment of default on the basis that service should or could have been effected by personal service rather than service by registered or certified mail. No party that receives timely actual notice may attack a judgment by default on the basis that the statutory requirement of due diligence as a condition precedent to service by publication was not met.

(j5)       Personal jurisdiction by acceptance of service. - Any party personally, or through the persons provided in Rule 4(j), may accept service of process by notation of acceptance of service together with the signature of the party accepting service and the date thereof on an original or copy of a summons, and such acceptance shall have the same force and effect as would exist had the process been served by delivery of copy and summons and complaint to the person signing said acceptance.

(j6)       Service by electronic mailing not authorized. - Nothing in subsection (j) of this section authorizes the use of electronic mailing for service on the party to be served.

(k)        Process - Manner of service to exercise jurisdiction in rem or quasi in rem. - In any action commenced in a court of this State having jurisdiction of the subject matter and grounds for the exercise of jurisdiction in rem or quasi in rem as provided in G.S. 1-75.8, the manner of service of process shall be as follows:

(1)        Defendant Known. - If the defendant is known, he may be served in the appropriate manner prescribed for service of process in section (j), or, if otherwise appropriate section (j1); except that the requirement for service by publication in (j1) shall be satisfied if made in the county where the action is pending and proof of service is made in accordance with section (j2).

(2)        Defendant Unknown. - If the defendant is unknown, he may be designated by description and process may be served by publication in the manner provided in section (j1), except that the requirement for service by publication in (j1) shall be satisfied if made in the county where the action is pending and proof of service is made in accordance with section (j2).  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, ss. 1-4; 1971, c. 962; c. 1156, s. 2; 1975, cc. 408, 609; 1977, c. 910, ss. 1-3; 1981, c. 384, s. 3; c. 540, ss. 1-8; 1983, c. 679, ss. 1, 2; 1989, c. 330; c. 575, ss. 1, 2; 1995, c. 275, s. 1; c. 389, ss. 2, 3; c. 509, s. 135.1(e), (f); 1997-469, s. 1; 1999-456, s. 59; 2001-379, ss. 1, 2, 2.1, 2.2; 2005-221, ss. 1, 2; 2008-36, ss. 1-3, 5; 2011-332, s. 3.1; 2017-143, s. 3.)

 

Rule 5. Service and filing of pleadings and other papers.

(a)        Service of orders, subsequent pleadings, discovery papers, written motions, written notices, and other similar papers - When required. -  Every order required by its terms to be served, every pleading subsequent to the original complaint unless the court otherwise orders because of numerous defendants, every paper relating to discovery required to be served upon a party unless the court otherwise orders, every written motion other than one which may be heard ex parte, and every written notice, appearance, demand, offer of judgment and similar paper shall be served upon each of the parties, but no service need be made on parties in default for failure to appear except that pleadings asserting new or additional claims for relief against them shall be served upon them in the manner provided for service of summons in Rule 4.

(a1)      Service of briefs or memoranda in support or opposition of certain dispositive motions. - In actions in superior court, every brief or memorandum in support of or in opposition to a motion to dismiss, a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a motion for summary judgment, or any other motion seeking a final determination of the rights of the parties as to one or more of the claims or parties in the action shall be served upon each of the parties at least two days before the hearing on the motion. If the brief or memorandum is not served on the other parties at least two days before the hearing on the motion, the court may continue the matter for a reasonable period to allow the responding party to prepare a response, proceed with the matter without considering the untimely served brief or memorandum, or take such other action as the ends of justice require. The parties may, by consent, alter the period of time for service. For the purpose of this two-day requirement only, service shall mean personal delivery, facsimile transmission, or other means such that the party actually receives the brief within the required time.

(b)        Service - How made. -  A pleading setting forth a counterclaim or cross claim shall be filed with the court and a copy thereof shall be served on the party against whom it is asserted or on the party's attorney of record as provided by this subsection.

With respect to all pleadings subsequent to the original complaint and other papers required or permitted to be served, service shall be made upon the party's attorney of record and, if ordered by the court, also upon the party. If the party has no attorney of record, service shall be made upon the party. With respect to such other pleadings and papers, service with due return may be made in a manner provided for service and return of process in Rule 4. Service under this subsection may also be made by one of the following methods:

(1)        Upon a party's attorney of record:

a.         By delivering a copy to the attorney. Delivery of a copy within this sub-subdivision means handing it to the attorney, leaving it at the attorney's office with a partner or employee, or sending it to the attorney's office by a confirmed telefacsimile transmittal for receipt by 5:00 P.M. Eastern Time on a regular business day, as evidenced by a telefacsimile receipt confirmation. If receipt of delivery by telefacsimile is after 5:00 P.M., service will be deemed to have been completed on the next business day.

b.         By mailing a copy to the attorney's office.

(2)        Upon a party:

a.         By delivering a copy to the party. Delivery of a copy within this sub-subdivision means handing it to the party.

b.         By mailing a copy to the party at the party's last known address or, if no address is known, by filing it with the clerk of court.

Service by mail shall be complete upon deposit of the pleading or paper enclosed in a post-paid, properly addressed wrapper in a post office or official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States Postal Service.

(b1)      Service - Certificate of Service. - A certificate of service shall accompany every pleading and every paper required to be served on any party or nonparty to the litigation, except with respect to pleadings and papers whose service is governed by Rule 4. The certificate shall show the date and method of service or the date of acceptance of service and shall show the name and service address of each person upon whom the paper has been served. If one or more persons are served by facsimile transmission, the certificate shall also show the telefacsimile number of each person so served. Each certificate of service shall be signed in accordance with and subject to Rule 11 of these rules.

(c)        Service - Numerous defendants. - In any action in which there are unusually large numbers of defendants, the court, upon motion or of its own initiative, may order that service of the pleadings of the defendants and replies thereto need not be made as between the defendants and that any crossclaim, counterclaim, or matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense contained therein shall be deemed to be denied or avoided by all other parties and that the filing of any such pleading and service thereof upon the plaintiff constitutes due notice of it to the parties. A copy of every such order shall be served upon the parties in such manner and form as the court directs.

(d)       Filing. - The following papers shall be filed with the court, either before service or within five days after service:

(1)        All pleadings, as defined by Rule 7(a) of these rules, subsequent to the complaint, whether such pleadings are original or amended.

(2)        Written motions and all notices of hearing.

(3)        Any other application to the court for an order that may affect the rights of or in any way commands any individual, business entity, governmental agency, association, or partnership to act or to forego action of any kind.

(4)        Notices of appearance.

(5)        Any other paper required by rule or statute to be filed.

(6)        Any other paper so ordered by the court.

(7)        All orders issued by the court.

All other papers, regardless of whether these rules require them to be served upon a party, should not be filed with the court unless (i) the filing is agreed to by all parties, or (ii) the papers are submitted to the court in relation to a motion or other request for relief, or (iii) the filing is permitted by another rule or statute. Briefs or memoranda provided to the court may not be filed with the clerk of court unless ordered by the court. The party taking a deposition or obtaining material through discovery is responsible for its preservation and delivery to the court if needed or so ordered.

(e)       (1)        Filing with the court defined. - The filing of pleadings and other papers with the court as required by these rules shall be made by filing them with the clerk of the court, pursuant to the rules promulgated under G.S. 7A-109 or subdivision (2) of this section, except that the judge may permit the papers to be filed with him, in which event he shall note thereon the filing date and forthwith transmit them to the office of the clerk.

(2)        Filing by electronic means. - If, pursuant to G.S. 7A-34, G.S. 7A-49.5, and G.S. 7A-343, the Supreme Court and the Administrative Officer of the Courts establish uniform rules, regulations, costs, procedures and specifications for the filing of pleadings or other court papers by electronic means, filing may be made by the electronic means when, in the manner, and to the extent provided therein.

(3)        The failure to affix a date stamp or file stamp on any order or judgment filed in a civil action, estate proceeding, or special proceeding shall not affect the sufficiency, validity, or enforceability of the order or judgment if the clerk or the court, after giving the parties adequate notice and opportunity to be heard, enters the order or judgment nunc pro tunc to the date of filing.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, c. 538; c. 1156, s. 2.5; 1975, c. 762, s. 1; 1983, c. 201, s. 1; 1985, c. 546; 1991, c. 168, s. 1; 2000-127, s. 1; 2001-379, s. 3; 2001-388, s. 1; 2001-487, s. 107.5(a); 2004-199, s. 5(a); 2005-138, ss. 1, 2; 2006-187, s. 2(a); 2011-332, s. 4.2; 2017-158, s. 1.)

 

Rule 6. Time.

(a)        Computation. - In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by these rules, by order of court, or by any applicable statute, including rules, orders or statutes respecting publication of notices, the day of the act, event, default or publication after which the designated period of time begins to run is not to be included. The last day of the period so computed is to be included, unless it is a Saturday, Sunday or a legal holiday when the courthouse is closed for transactions, in which event the period runs until the end of the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday when the courthouse is closed for transactions. When the period of time prescribed or allowed is less than seven days, intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays shall be excluded in the computation. A half holiday shall be considered as other days and not as a holiday.

(b)        Enlargement. - When by these rules or by a notice given thereunder or by order of court an act is required or allowed to be done at or within a specified time, the court for cause shown may at any time in its discretion with or without motion or notice order the period enlarged if request therefor is made before the expiration of the period originally prescribed or as extended by a previous order. Upon motion made after the expiration of the specified period, the judge may permit the act to be done where the failure to act was the result of excusable neglect. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this rule, the parties may enter into binding stipulations without approval of the court enlarging the time, not to exceed in the aggregate 30 days, within which an act is required or allowed to be done under these rules, provided, however, that neither the court nor the parties may extend the time for taking any action under Rules 50(b), 52, 59(b), (d), (e), 60(b), except to the extent and under the conditions stated in them.

(c)        Unaffected by expiration of session. - The period of time provided for the doing of any act or the taking of any proceeding is not affected or limited by the continued existence or expiration of a session of court. The continued existence or expiration of a session of court in no way affects the power of a court to do any act or take any proceeding, but no issue of fact shall be submitted to a jury out of session.

(d)       For motions, affidavits. - A written motion, other than one which may be heard ex parte, and notice of the hearing thereof shall be served not later than five days before the time specified for the hearing, unless a different period is fixed by these rules or by order of the court. Such an order may for cause shown be made on ex parte application. When a motion is supported by affidavit, the affidavit shall be served with the motion; and except as otherwise provided in Rule 59(c), opposing affidavits shall be served at least two days before the hearing. If the opposing affidavit is not served on the other parties at least two days before the hearing on the motion, the court may continue the matter for a reasonable period to allow the responding party to prepare a response, proceed with the matter without considering the untimely served affidavit, or take such other action as the ends of justice require. For the purpose of this two-day requirement only, service shall mean personal delivery, facsimile transmission, or other means such that the party actually receives the affidavit within the required time.

(e)        Additional time after service by mail. - Whenever a party has the right to do some act or take some proceedings within a prescribed period after the service of a notice or other paper upon him and the notice or paper is served upon him by mail, three days shall be added to the prescribed period.

(f)        Additional time for Address Confidentiality Program participants. - Whenever a person participating in the Address Confidentiality Program established by Chapter 15C of the General Statutes has a legal right to act within a prescribed period of 10 days or less after the service of a notice or other paper upon the program participant, and the notice or paper is served upon the program participant by mail, five days shall be added to the prescribed period. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2000-127, s. 5; 2002-171, s. 2; 2003-337, s. 2.)