Fee-Shifting, And Other Pending Bills In The North Carolina General Assembly Affecting Litigation

A losing plaintiff would be liable for the defendant's attorneys' fees if a bill introduced this month in the North Carolina Senate becomes law. 

Other pending bills of interest to litigators include one which would change the way in which the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Rules of Evidence can be amended, legislation which would affect the use of computer forensics consultants, and a change to Rule 4 on who is authorized to serve process.

Attorneys' Fees.  Senate Bill 942 would change the American Rule in North Carolina.  It would require a Court  "to award reasonable attorneys' fees, resulting from the successful defense of any civil action arising under this Chapter or any other statute, against the plaintiff."  As presently drafted, the term "successful defense" is defined as "the defendant prevailed after trial with respect to all claims presented by plaintiff, or the action was dismissed pursuant to Chapter 1A‑1, Rule 12(b)."

Rules of Civil Procedure and EvidenceSenate Bill 862 would give the North Carolina Supreme Court the authority to "adopt and amend" the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Evidence. The General Assembly would retain the ability to amend or veto any rulemaking by the Supreme Court.  Under the current wording of the statute, the Supreme Court can "prescribe rules of practice and procedure for the superior and district courts supplementary to, and not inconsistent with, acts of the General Assembly."

Licensing Requirement For Digital Forensics ConsultantsComputer forensic consultants working in North Carolina will need to be licensed as "digital forensics examiners" under House Bill 570. Those persons requiring a license would include "[a]ny person who, on a contractual basis, engages in the practice of conducting examinations of digitally stored data to recover, image, analyze, or examine the data by using specialized software to determine responsibility or reconstruct usage of the data." There are a number of states that require licensing for these types of consultants.  I wrote about this subject several months ago.

Private Process ServersSenate Bill 1090 would amend Rule 4 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure to provide that the persons authorized to serve a Summons and Complaint include "a private investigator duly licensed under Chapter 74C of  the General Statutes." 

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