SIGNING OF PLEADINGS; ATTORNEYS
(a) Signature. Every pleading, motion or other paper of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed in his individual name by at least one attorney of record who is admitted to practice law in South Carolina, and whose address and telephone number shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign his pleading, motion or other paper and state his address. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. The written or electronic signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading, motion or other paper; that to the best of his knowledge, information and belief there is good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay.
All motions filed shall contain an affirmation that the movant's counsel prior to filing the motion has communicated, orally or in writing, with opposing counsel and has attempted in good faith to resolve the matter contained in the motion, unless the movant's counsel certifies that consultation would serve no useful purpose, or could not be timely held. There is no duty of consultation on motions to dismiss, for summary judgment, for new trial, or judgment NOV, or on motions in Family Court for temporary relief pursuant to Family Court Rule 21, or in real estate foreclosure cases, or with pro se litigants.
If a pleading, motion or other paper is not signed or does not comply with this Rule, it shall be stricken unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the pleader or movant. If a pleading, motion, or other paper is signed in violation of this Rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, may impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay to the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion or other paper, including a reasonable attorney's fee.
This Rule 11(a) is substantially the Federal Rule, with one addition, that the pleadings must be signed by the party or, if he has an attorney, by an attorney who practices in the State. Important as this change is, it is not as significant as the Rule itself, which eliminates the verification of pleadings and places on the lawyer who signs a pleading the duty of good faith in preparing the pleading. The lawyer may be disciplined if he violates this duty. This version of Rule 11(a) is not nearly so stringent as the latest version of the Federal Rule which became effective August 1, 1983; but it represents a substantial forward step in lawyer responsibility.
The amendment to Rule 11(a) makes explicit that the certification requirement applies to all motions or papers filed by the attorney or party. The requirement that an attorney of record must be a resident or maintain an office in the State is deleted. The conditions under which a person may appear of record are more properly within the exclusive power of the Supreme Court to govern the admission to practice, rather than a matter of trial court procedure.
The amendment to Rule 11(a) requires that a movant make a "good faith" effort to resolve any dispute before filing a motion and to so certify in the motion unless the consultation would serve no useful purpose or could not be timely held. This is similar to the Local Federal Rule. As in the Local Federal Rule, there is no duty to consult with pro se litigants, or about certain motions. Consultation may be oral or written.
The change makes clear that the court may impose sanctions for violations of this Rule and replaces the ambiguous language that "an attorney may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action." The change is more consistent with the language on sanctions for discovery abuse. The amendment does not change the standard for imposing sanctions which remains that of the pre-1983 Federal Rule.
Rule 11(a) was amended to add a requirement that the signer of pleadings include his telephone number.
This amendment clarifies that the electronic signature of an attorney or party may only be used in E-Filed pleadings, motions or other papers.
Note to 2022 Amendment
Based on the adoption of Rule 614 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules, which permits a party to sign a pleading using an electronic signature, the provision restricting the use of electronic signatures to E-Filed pleadings has been deleted from the rule.
(b) Change of Attorney. An attorney may be changed by consent, or upon cause shown, and upon such terms as shall be just, upon application, by order of the Court, and not otherwise. Written notice of change of attorney must be served as provided by Rule 5.
This Rule 11(b) retains the requirements of Circuit Court Rule 7, and represents no change in State or Federal practice.
(c) Affidavits and Verifications. Affidavits or verifications authorized or permitted under these Rules shall be written statements or declarations by a party or his attorney of record or of a witness, sworn to or affirmed before an officer authorized to administer oaths, that the affiant knows the facts stated to be true of his own knowledge, except as to those matters stated on information and belief and as to those matters that he believes them to be true. When a corporation is a party the verifications may be made by any officer or agent thereof. When a partnership or other unincorporated association is the party under a common name the verification may be made by a member or officer thereof. When the State or any officer thereof in its behalf is a party, verifications may be made by any person acquainted with the facts.
(d) Attorney as Surety. No attorney or other officer of the court shall become surety upon any undertaking or bond filed in any action.
Rules 11(c) and 11(d) are added to the Federal Rule to preserve the requirements of Code § 15-1-240, and Circuit Court Rule 9.
Rule 11(c) is amended to permit an employee of an attorney to probate affidavits or verifications on pleadings or other papers, although a deposition cannot be taken before such employee under Rule 28(c).
Last amended by Order dated May 2, 2022.