Read Before You File – Supreme Court of North Carolina Amends Rule 5 of the General Rules of Practice

By Alicia Mitchell-Mercer

On September 23, 2020, the Supreme Court of North Carolina amended Rule 5 of the General Rules of Practice for the Superior and District Courts. The court’s order amending Rule 5 is effective as of October 1, 2020.

The text of the Order includes changes to mailing and cover sheet requirements that affect any filings you make with North Carolina courts. I am including the tracked changes in this blog post, but you can also see a PDF of the order at the link provided above:


Rule 5. FormFiling of Pleadings and Other Documents

(a)(b) Paper Filing. If feasible, each paper presented to the court for filing shallDocuments filed with the court in paper should be flat and unfolded, without manuscript cover, and firmly bound with no manuscript cover.

All papers presented to the court for filing shall They must be letter size (8 ½” x 11″), with the exception ofexcept for wills and exhibits. The Clerk of Superior Courtclerk of superior court shallmay require a party to refile any paper whicha document that does not conform to this sizethese requirements. This subsection of this rule shall become effective on July 1, 1982. Prior to that date either letter or legal size papers will be accepted.

  • All papers filed in civil actions, special proceedings, and estates, documents filed with the court in paper shallmust include a cover sheet that summarizesas the first page of the filing a cover sheet summarizing the critical elements of the filingdocument in a format that the Administrative Office of the Courts prescribesprescribed by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Clerk of Superior Court shallclerk of superior court may not reject the filing of any papera document that does not include the requireda cover sheet. Instead, the clerk shallmust file the paperdocument, notify the filing party of the omission, and grant the filing party a reasonable time not to exceed five (5) days within whichno more than five days to file the required cover sheet. Until such time as the party files the required cover sheet, the court shall take no further action other than dismissal in the case. Other than dismissing the case, the court should not act on the document before the cover sheet is filed.


Additionally, the order explains that beginning in 2021, the North Carolina Judicial Branch will move forward with a statewide electronic filing and case-management system. Over a five-year period, the system will be made available across the state in phases. Attorneys and paralegals should expect more changes to the General Rules of Practice as we move through these phases.

If you have questions about the Supreme Court’s rules, please contact the Supreme Court’s Office of Administrative Counsel by email at [email protected].

If you would like to subscribe to receive changes to the rules, you can do so by visiting the Court Rules page on and submitting your email as you see on the print screen below.


Alicia Mitchell-Mercer, LPP, ACP, RP, NCCP, SCCP is a senior paralegal, legal project manager, and consultant in Charlotte, N.C. She has a B.S. in Paralegal Studies and a M.S. in Project Management. She is a certified paralegal through the NC State Bar, SC Bar, NALA, and NFPA and a certified Legal Project Practitioner through the International Institute of Legal Project Management. Alicia is the Technology Committee Chair and Communications Chair of the North Carolina Bar Association, Paralegal Division and volunteers with the NC Guardian ad Litem program. Email: [email protected]; LinkedIn: