Legislative Alert - Don't Let New Civil Court Fees Catch You by Surprise
As of today, brand new court cost and fee provisions are scheduled to go into effect TOMORROW, July 1, 2011, for all civil cases filed in superior and district courts and in estate proceedings. The changes include not just an increase in existing costs, but new costs that may cause you to miss deadlines if you are not careful.
These fees include: Fees will be assessed for filing any pleading containing a counterclaim or cross-claim. The total fees for a district court filing with these claims is $150.00, and the total fee for such a filing in superior court is $200.00.
Each filing containing one or more motions in a civil action (with very limited exceptions) will be assessed a $20.00 fee. This includes motions within complaints, answers, or subsequent pleadings, and routine motions such as extensions of time to answer a complaint or respond to discovery. Presumably, any written motions filed during trial would also be subject to the fee.
Any alias and pluries summons or endorsement issued by the clerk on an original summons in a civil action will be subject to a $15.00 fee (with very limited exceptions). The fee appears to apply to each A&P summons issued to each individual defendant in a civil action.
Any filing in an estate proceeding that contains a motion (with very limited exceptions) and requires a notice of hearing will be assessed a $20.00 fee. On June 28, 2011, the AOC issued an instructive memorandum on these and other court cost changes and circulated it to court personnel in advance of the impending effective date.http://www.nccourts.org/Courts/Trial/Documents/court_costs_memo-1July2011.pdf
At present, Lawyers Mutual is inquiring with the AOC and Clerks of Court of several counties about the implementation of the new costs. As is usually the case with such changes, there will be variations from county to county especially in the months following the effective date. In the meantime, you should assume that clerks in all counties, including yours, will require the necessary fee before accepting motions or issuing A&P summonses. That means that answers with counterclaims or pleadings containing motions may be rejected when filed right before a deadline if not accompanied by the applicable fee. Additionally, A&P summonses may not be issued, even if they would otherwise expire, unless the $15 fee is paid. Until you are sure about the procedures that will be implemented by your local clerks, do not leave last minute filing to unprepared and uninformed office staff. File it yourself and take your wallet!