Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
RULE 12

RULE 12
DEFENSES AND OBJECTIONS - WHEN AND HOW PRESENTED - BY PLEADING OR MOTION - MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON PLEADINGS

(a) When Presented. A defendant shall serve his answer within 30 days after the service of the complaint upon him, unless the Court directs otherwise when service of process is made pursuant to Rule 4(e), and provided further that the State of South Carolina shall answer or otherwise respond to an application for post-conviction relief within 60 days after service of the application, if it arises out of a guilty plea, and 90 days if it arises out of a trial. A party served with a pleading stating a cross-claim against him shall serve an answer thereto within 30 days after the service upon him. The plaintiff shall serve his reply to a counterclaim in the answer within 30 days after service of the answer or, if a reply is ordered by the court, within 30 days after service of the order, unless the order otherwise directs. The service of a motion permitted under this rule alters these periods of time as follows, unless a different time is fixed by order of the Court: (1) if the Court denies the motion or postpones its disposition until the trial on the merits, the responsive pleading shall be served within 15 days after notice of the Court's action; (2) if the Court grants a motion for a more definite statement the responsive pleading shall be served within 15 days after the service of the more definite statement, and a responsive pleading, if necessary, shall be served within 15 days after notice of the court's action on a motion to strike.

Note:

This Rule 12(a) is identical to the Federal Rule except that it changes the time to answer from 20 to 30 days, and the time to plead after motion denied from 10 to 15 days. No other changes in State practice are affected by the Rule.

Note to 1986 Amendment:

The amendment to Rule 12(a)(2) sets the time for response after a motion to strike at 15 days, which is the same time set for pleading after a successful motion for a more definite statement.

Note to 1995 Amendment:

Rule 12(a) is amended to provide special time periods for the State to respond to applications for post-conviction relief because the thirty day time period for civil litigation is often extended so that the State may obtain a transcript of the proceeding before responding.

(b) How Presented. Every defense, in law or fact, to a cause of action in any pleading, whether a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, shall be asserted in the responsive pleading thereto if one is required, except that the following defenses may at the option of the pleader be made by motion: (1) lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) lack of jurisdiction over the person, (3) improper venue, (4) insufficiency of process, (5) insufficiency of service of process, (6) failure to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, (7) failure to join a party under Rule 19, (8) another action is pending between the same parties for the same claim. A motion making any of these defenses shall be made before pleading if a further pleading is permitted. No defense or objection is waived by being joined with one or more other defenses or objections in a responsive pleading or motion. If a pleading sets forth a cause of action or defense to which an adverse party is not required to serve a responsive pleading, he may assert at the trial any defense in law or fact to that cause of action or defense. If, on a motion asserting the defense numbered (6) to dismiss for failure of the pleading to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, matters outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the Court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56.

Note:

This important Rule 12(b) enables a party to: (1) raise by motion or answer all of the defenses now raised by demurrer, and (2) eliminates the necessity of the awkward "special appearance to object to jurisdiction" under present State practice. The motion should be made before answer for early disposition of cases; but the defenses enumerated may be made in the responsive pleading and are not waived by being stated in a pleading rather than by motion. The last sentence eliminates the so-called "speaking demurrer" at trial, by treating such late motion as a motion for Summary Judgment under Rule 56.

Note to 1986 Amendment:

The amendment to the fourth sentence of Rule 12(b) clarifies the litigant's right to assert at trial any defenses as well as any claims he could have raised in a permissive pleading but chose not to do so. Consequently, the election not to reply to an affirmative defense does not waive the right to contest that affirmative defense.

(c) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. After the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the trial, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings. If, on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the Court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56.

Note:

This Rule 12(c) preserves the present common law practice in this State; and it is more important than the Federal Rule, because of the requirement for fact pleading. It may also be treated as a motion for summary judgment in proper circumstances.

(d) Preliminary Hearings. The defenses specifically enumerated (1)-(8) in subdivision (b) of this rule, whether made in a pleading or by motion, motions for judgment on the pleadings under subdivision (c) of this rule, and motions for summary judgment under Rule 56, shall be heard and determined before trial on application of any party, unless the Court orders that the hearing and determination thereof be deferred until the trial.

Note:

This Rule 12(d) is the same as the Federal Rule, and assures timely disposal of 12(b) and 12(c) motions to dismiss or for judgment prior to trial.

(e) Motion for More Definite Statement. If a pleading to which a responsive pleading is permitted is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading, he may move for a more definite statement before interposing his responsive pleading. The motion shall point out the defects complained of and the details desired. If the motion is granted and the order of the Court is not obeyed within 15 days after notice of the order or within such other time as the Court may fix, the Court may strike the pleading to which the motion was directed or make such order as it deems just.

Note:

This Rule 12(e) is the same as the Federal Rule and effects no change in present practice, except time for compliance is changed from 10 days to 15 days.

(f) Motion to Strike. Upon motion pointing out the defects complained of, and made by a party before responding to a pleading or, if no responsive pleading is required within 30 days after the service of the pleading upon him or upon the court's own initiative, at any time the court may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous matter.

Note:

This Rule 12(f) preserves present State practice under Code § 15-13-60 and > § 15-13-440 verbatim.

Note to 1986 Amendment:

The amendment to Rule 12(f) makes clear that a motion to strike must point out the defects complained of, and is consistent with the language of Rule 12(e).

(g) Consolidation of Defenses in Motion. A party who makes a motion under this rule may join with it any other motions herein provided for and then available to him. If a party makes a motion under this rule but omits therefrom any defense or objection then available to him which this rule permits to be raised by motion, he shall not thereafter make a motion based on the defense or objection so omitted, except a motion as provided in subdivision (h)(2) hereof on any of the grounds there stated.

Note:

This Rule 12(g) is the same as the Federal Rule. It is new material to help prevent piecemeal presentation of defenses by separate motions.

(h) Waiver or Preservation of Certain Defenses.

(1) A defense of lack of jurisdiction over the person, improper venue, insufficiency of process, insufficiency of service of process, or that another action is pending between the same parties for the same claim is waived (A) if omitted from a motion in the circumstances described in subdivision (g) or (B) if it is neither made by motion under this rule nor included in a responsive pleading or an amendment thereof permitted by Rule 15(a) to be made as a matter of course.

(2) A defense of failure to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted, a defense of failure to join a party indispensable under Rule 19, and an objection of failure to state a legal defense to a claim may be made in any pleading permitted or ordered under Rule 7(a), or by motion for judgment on the pleadings, or at the trial on the merits.

(3) Whenever it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action.

Note:

This Rule 12(h) should be read together with Rule 12(g) in defining those defenses which are waived if not presented by pleading or motion.