South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules that should be followed by South Carolina state courts. The rules govern civil actions. The rules are promulgated for the smooth and efficient functioning of state courts.
A civil action can be classified into various stages that include: pleading stage, discovery stage, trial stage, and judgment stage. In South Carolina, a civil action commences when the summons and complaint are filed with the clerk of court. A party who commences the action is called the plaintiff, and the opposite party is called the defendant. After a summons and complaint are filed with the court clerk, the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney will issue the summons to the defendant(s).
Different types of pleadings in South Carolina courts include: Complaint, Answer to Complaint, Counter claim, Reply to counterclaim, Cross claim, Answer to cross claim, Third party complaint and Third party answer. A complaint should be filed by the real party in interest. If the real party in interest is a minor or incompetent person, the person’s representative should file the complaint. If a minor or incompetent person does not have a representative, s/he may file the action through a next friend. The courts, if found necessary will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the minor or incompetent person.
Discovery is obtained by parties through:
- 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.
After commencement of the action, a party may demand for trial by jury. A judgment is passed after trial. The judgment may include a decree or an order which dismisses the action as to any party or finally determines the rights of any party. Generally, cost of litigation is adjudged to the prevailing party.