During the pandemic, the Chief Justice permitted service of pleadings and discovery by email only upon written consent.  However, beginning Oct. 1, 2020, an amendment to Rule 5 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure allows for the service of pleadings and discovery in civil cases by email regardless of whether opposing counsel consents.  The only caveat is that service must be made on opposing counsel “to an e-mail address of record with the court in the case”.  There is no specific guidance as to what that phrase means, but presumably if opposing counsel has included their email address on any pleading with the court, that would suffice.

The email service must be sent directly to the attorney and not his/her staff member.

More details regarding this change can be found on the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys website.

Primary rules under this new procedure include:

  • The email must be sent by 5:00 p.m. to be considered effective as of that day;
  • An unrepresented party may only be served by email if they have consented to service that way and a copy of that consent is filed with the court;
  • Certificates of service must include the email address of the persons served that way; and
  • There is no extra three days added to the time prescribed for taking action like there is with service by mail.