A copy of the complaint, together with a notice of the time and place of the hearing of the application for a preliminary injunction, shall be served upon the defendant at least five days before such hearing. The place may also be served by posting such papers in the same manner as is provided for in G.S. 19-2.3 in the case of a temporary restraining order. If the hearing is then continued at the instance of any defendant, the temporary restraining order may be continued as a matter of course until the hearing.
Before or after the commencement of the hearing of an application for a preliminary injunction, the court, on application of either of the parties or on its own motion, may order the trial of the action on the merits to be advanced and consolidated with the hearing on the application for the preliminary injunction; provided, however, the defendant shall be entitled to a jury trial if requested. (1977, c. 819, s. 4.)