North Carolina is the latest state to extend the protections of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”), 50 U.S.C. §§ 3901 et seq., to active duty members of its National Guard. What does the new law require?
North Carolina Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
On July 25, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed into law the North Carolina Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which extends the protections of the federal SCRA to North Carolina residents serving on active National Guard duty. Although the statute generally mirrors federal law, a few distinctions are worth note.
Who is a Servicemember?
For purposes of the new law, a “servicemember” has the same meaning as under the federal SCRA. The term also includes a member of the North Carolina National Guard (or a resident of North Carolina in another state’s National Guard) called to active duty by the governor for more than 30 consecutive days. However, for the statute’s protections to apply, a member of the National Guard must provide the lender or servicer with a written or electronic copy of the order to military service no later than 30 days after the termination of such service. As a result, some servicemembers must act affirmatively in order to receive the law’s protections.
The law also grants a dependent of a servicemember the same rights and protections as are provided to a servicemember under Subchapter II of the federal SCRA. Thus, dependents are eligible for protection against default judgments, stays of proceedings, and restrictions on the maximum rate of interest an obligation may bear.
Who Can Enforce the Statute?
The new North Carolina law provides various enforcement mechanisms. First, a violation of the federal SCRA is a violation of the North Carolina law. Second, a violation of the North Carolina law is an unfair or deceptive trade practice for purposes of Chapter 75 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Finally, either the North Carolina Attorney General or an aggrieved servicemember (through a private right of action) may bring an action to enforce the statute.