(a) No foreign corporation conducting affairs in this State without permission obtained through a certificate of authority under this Chapter or through domestication under prior acts shall be permitted to maintain any action or proceeding in any court of this State unless the foreign corporation has obtained a certificate of authority prior to trial.
An issue arising under this subsection must be raised by motion and determined by the trial judge prior to trial.
(b) A foreign corporation failing to obtain a certificate of authority as required by this Chapter or by prior acts then applicable shall be liable to the State for the years or parts thereof during which it conducted affairs in this State without a certificate of authority in an amount equal to all fees and taxes which would have been imposed by law upon the corporation had it duly applied for and received such permission, plus interest and all penalties imposed by law for failure to pay such fees and taxes. In addition, the foreign corporation shall be liable for a civil penalty of ten dollars ($10.00) for each day, but not to exceed a total of one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each year or part thereof, it conducts affairs in this State without a certificate of authority. The Attorney General may bring actions to recover all amounts due the State under the provisions of this subsection. The clear proceeds of civil penalties provided for in this subsection shall be remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund in accordance with G.S. 115C-457.2.
(c) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, the failure of a foreign corporation to obtain a certificate of authority does not impair the validity of its corporate acts or prevent it from defending any proceeding in this State.
(d) The Secretary of State is hereby directed to require that every foreign corporation conducting affairs in this State comply with the provisions of this Chapter. The Secretary of State is authorized to employ such assistants as shall be deemed necessary in the Secretary of State's office for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this Article and for making such investigations as shall be necessary to ascertain foreign corporations now conducting affairs in this State which may have failed to comply with the provisions of this Chapter. (1955, c. 1230; 1993, c. 398, s. 1; 1998-215, s. 118; 1999-151, s. 2.)