A person under age 18 can have a claim filed by a Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”) who has been appointed by a clerk of court. A GAL must be over 18 and can be a parent, relative or friend. If the person you wish to sue is under age 18 or under any legal disability, such as mental incompetence, you should ask a lawyer for help.

Businesses as Defendants:

If you are suing a business, you must first find out whether it is a corporation or not. To find this out, along with the name and address of the corporation’s registered agent, call the N.C. Secretary of State, Corporations Division (919) 807-2225 (or visit its website, If the business is a corporation, the Corporation Division will tell you the county, city, and street address of the corporation’s registered office and principal place of business, which could be in different counties. You may sue this corporation in any county where it does business.

If there is no record of that business as a corporation, then go to the Register of Deeds office in the county where the business has its main office. The Register of Deeds, which is in the courthouse, has names of owners of business in its county. Write the business owner’s name on the court papers as the defendant. If the Register of Deeds office does not have information about the owners or their addresses or about any registered office, you may sue the business in any county where it does business.


If you are the defendant and have a claim against the person who sues you, you can sue that person as part of the same case. You do this by filing a “counterclaim”, also in Small Claims Court. For example, an appliance store may be suing for a repair bill you didn’t pay. But you don’t want to pay because the repairman knocked a hole in your wall, which you paid to have repaired. You want the appliance company to pay for that damage before you pay its repair bill. Your counterclaim cannot be more than $5,000.

To file a counterclaim, you need to write an answer to the complaint you get. Write what your claim is and your answer to what the plaintiff says under the heading “Answer and Counterclaim”. Take the written answer and counterclaim to the clerk of court on or before the day of your trial. Include with the answer and counterclaim a signed statement of how you will give these papers to the defendant, which you can do in person or by regular mail. All of this must be done before the time set for the trial.

If you are the defendant and have filed a counterclaim against the plaintiff, the magistrate may order the plaintiff to pay part or your entire claim, or may order the property returned to you.

If you win your counterclaim you can collect on it the same way that the plaintiff collects on a judgment.


If a person cannot get time off from work to come to court or is unwilling to come, you can get a subpoena from the clerk of court. This is a legal notice, which requires the witness to come to court. You will have to pay a $30 fee for the sheriff to deliver the subpoena to each witness. Each witness who is subpoenaed can collect a small daily fee and, if the witness is from outside the county, travel expenses from the court, after the judgment is collected. These fees are then added to the court costs, which are paid by the person who loses, if the judgment is collected.

Suits over $10,000

The limit of $10,000 on suits in Small Claims Court does not include interest or courts costs. If you have a claim over $10,000, you can either file your claim in District Court, where you will probably need a lawyer to represent you or you can lower your claim to $10,000 and file it in Small Claims Court. If you do this you lose the right to any of the amount over $10,000.

 Wrong Person is sued:

If you are being sued and think someone else is at fault in the case, you can use a legal procedure to have this person appear in court as another party to the lawsuit. This person is called a “third party defendant”. In a situation like this, you will need a lawyer to be sure that your rights are protected.

State Law prohibits the Clerk’s Office staff from; providing any legal advice, providing instructions for completing forms, referring an attorney, or recommending specific ways to pursue legal action.