Home Definition Surreply (Legal Definition and Examples: All You Need To Know)

Surreply (Legal Definition and Examples: All You Need To Know)

What is a Surreply?

How do you legally define it?

What are the important elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s dig into our legal procedural law!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

Surreply Basics 

A Surreply is a pleading document filed in reply to a motion after the motion has already been briefed. 

Here is when a surreply may be filed:

  • A moving party files a motion requesting the court to render a judgment, order or ruling
  • The nonmoving party formally responds to the motion by filing its own written plea
  • In response to the nonmoving party’s response, the moving party files a reply
  • To respond to that, the opposing party files a surresponse 
  • Finally, to respond to the surresponse, the moving party files a surreply!

It’s important to note that the court rules of procedure must be observed at all times.

In other words, some courts authorize a surreply and some do not.

If the courts do authorize a “reply” to the “reply”, then the movant can file a surreply as outlined above.

This type of motion can be filed in Federal Court, State Court or other courts provided the parties respect the court rules of procedure.

For example, in South Carolina, the state or federal courts do not allow or disallow surreplies or surresponses. 

Surreply definition

What is the definition of surreply?

According to the US Legal, a surreply is defined as:

Sur-reply is an additional reply to a motion filed after the motion has already been fully briefed. 

In other words, a surreply is a motion a party files when all parties have already had the chance to respond to the moving party’s motion.

Surreply brief 

The supply brief is a legal document or motion filed in court in response to another motion.

By definition, the surreply is filed by the movant after its initial motion has been fully briefed by both parties for two rounds.

In the United States, the moving party will generally have the final word.

In other words, if a moving party files a motion and the opposing party replies, the court will allow the moving party to file a reply and the respondent a surresponse.

However, in some cases, the courts may authorize the moving party to file a surreply brief to respond to the nonmoving party’s surresponse.

To do that, the movant may likely require permission from the court and we cover that later in this article. 

Surresponse brief 

A surresponse brief is when a party provides a second response to oppose a motion.

Let’s look \back at the chronology of how motions are filed:

  • Movant: files an initial motion and supporting memorandum
  • Nonmovant: files a response 
  • Movant: files a reply to the response 
  • Nonmovant: files a surresponse 
  • Movant: files a surreply 

As you can see, the surresponse represents the second round of reply brief filed by the party opposing the initial motion.

Following a surresponse, if the court rules allow (most often subject to the permission from the court), the movant can file a surreply to respond to the points raised in the opposing party’s surresponse.

Motion for leave to file a surreply

It is quite common for parties in a lawsuit to file different types of motions during the legal proceedings.

We call that motion practice in the legal jargon.

When a motion is filed, a party is seeking relief from the court on a specific issue or with regards to a certain contentious element of a case.

The party filing the motion is called the moving party.

If the other party wishes to oppose the motion, it can file either a response or a response and cross motion.

In most cases, the moving party gets a chance to reply to the nonmoving party’s response.

To that response, the nonmoving party can file a surresponse.

However, if the moving party wishes to respond to the nonmoving party’s second response (resulting in the 5th pleading or brief to be filed in court), in most cases it must ask for the court’s permission to do so.

That’s when the moving party will file a motion for leave to file a sur-reply.

This means that the party believes that there are sufficient reasons to justify a final “reply to the reply” allowing it a fair and equitable opportunity to be heard.

If the motion is granted, the surreply will be considered by the court.


Let’s look at an example of a surreply filed in the context of legal action.

In the case American Civil Liberties Union Foundation v. United States Department of Justice, the defendant files a Sur-reply Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant’s Motion For Summary Judgment and In Opposition to Plaintiff’s Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment:

Surreply - Sur-Reply Memorandum of Law

In the case United States of America, State of Wisconsin, State of Illinois and State of Michigan v. Dean Foods Company, the plaintiffs file a sur-reply titled Plaintiff’s Sur-Reply in Further Response to the Defendant’s Motion to Compel a Discovery Response to the First Interrogatory of Dean Foods Company:

Surreply - Plaintiff's sur-reply

Another example is in the case U.S. v. LSL Biotechnologies, Inc where the plaintiffs file a motion called Plaintiff United States’ Motion for Leave to File a Surreply:

Surreply - Motion for leave to file a surreply


So what is the legal definition of Sur-reply?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.


  • A surreply is a pleading document filed by a moving party after all parties have already filed their opposition pleadings and reply briefs 
  • A surreply represents a fifth exchange between the parties when a motion is contested: first is the initial motion by movant, then the response by nonmovant, then the reply to response, then the surresponses and finally the surreply 
  • In many cases, the movant will need to file a motion for leave to get the persmission to file a surreply 
Court disputes 
Rules of procedure 
Summons and complaint
Suppression of Unlawful Acts Convention
Supremacy Clause
Supreme Court
Supreme Legislation
Surety of the Peace
Suretyship by Operation of Law
Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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