If you have ever drafted a Complaint, you have undoubtedly used the words that your previous numbered allegations were "incorporated by reference." It’s a way of not having to repeat yourself. That shortcut is specifically allowed by Rule 10(c) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, which says that: "Statements in a pleading may be adopted by reference in a different part of the same pleading or in another pleading or in any motion in the action."
If you have a case where you have filed multiple briefs, you might "incorporate by reference" arguments you made in an earlier brief. You probably haven’t thought twice about that.
Well, Judge McGuire of the NC Business Court has thought about it, and he doesn’t like it. In American Air Filter Co. v. Price, 2017 NCBC 54, he ruled that the use of incorporation by reference of earlier briefs could be a violation of the Rules of the NC Business Court and that it could result in the Court refusing to consider the referenced argument.
How could that be, you are wondering, as there is no mention (or any prohibition) of this practice in the Court’s rules. The reason is that the inclusion of the pages of a previously filed brief might push you over the page limitations contained in the Business Court Rules for briefs. The Rules require the lawyer for a party filing a brief to limit her words to 7,500, and to "include a certificate by the attorney or party that the brief complies with this rule." BCR 7.8.
Judge McGuire said in the American Filter case that:
The General Rules of Practice and Procedure for the North Carolina Business Court (“BCR”) do not expressly permit parties to incorporate previously-filed briefs and documents outside of the brief at issue, at least not to supplement the substantive text of the brief at issue. In fact, BCR 7.8 provides strict word limits on briefs submitted to this Court. Even if incorporation of previous briefs were allowable, it appears a party incorporating a previously-filed brief would have to certify under BCR 7.8 that the brief and the incorporated brief did not exceed the word limits. Defendants have not done so in this case. As a result, the Court declines to consider Defendants’ arguments and authorities regarding choice of law issues contained in other filings with the Court.
Op. at n.2.