North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules of procedure that should be followed by superior and district courts in civil actions. The rules are promulgated for the smooth and efficient functioning of courts.
In North Carolina a civil action commences with the filing of a complaint or issuance of a summons. A party who commences the action is called the plaintiff, and the opposite party is called the defendant. According to Rule 4, once a complaint is filed, the summons is issued within five days of filing the complaint. Summons is issued by the sheriff of the county where the service is made.
A civil action can be classified into various stages that include: pleading stage, discovery stage, trial stage, and judgment stage. Different types of pleadings under Rule 7 include: Complaint, Answer to Complaint, Counter claim, Reply to counterclaim, Cross claim, Answer to cross claim, Third party complaint and Third party answer. Under Rule 17 a complaint should be filed by a real party in interest. If the real party in interest is an infant or incompetent person, the person should appear through general or testamentary guardian or guardian ad litem.
According to Rule 26 parties my obtain discovery by:
- oral examination or written questions;
- written interrogatories;
- requests for admission;
- request for production of documents or other information;
- request for permission to enter into land or other property for inspection or other purpose; and/or
- physical and mental examinations.