When Are SC Orders Effective?

The South Carolina Court of Appeals recently reaffirmed that a trial court order is not effective until the clerk of court enters it. The case is West v. Luck Ave. Properties, Op. No. 2014-UP-415 (S.C. Ct.App. filed Nov. 26, 2014).

The issue in the case was whether a plaintiff timely moved to restore a case “within a year of the date stricken.”  Rule 40(j), SCRCP. The trial court ruled that the motion to restore was untimely because the party made the motion over a year after the judge signed the order to strike. 

[T]he effective date of a trial court order is the date the order is entered by the clerk of court, not the date that the order is signed.

The Court of Appeals unanimously reversed, holding that the motion was timely because the party made the motion within a year of the date that the clerk entered the order to strike.

The Court relied on Bowman v. Richland Mem’l Hosp.. 335 S.C. 88, 92, 515 S.E.2d 259, 261 (Ct.App. 1999). In Bowman, the Court likened a signed but unentered order to a deed that is not delivered. Until the judge delivers the signed order to the clerk of court, and the clerk then enters it, the order is not effective.

This rule is over 100 years old. See Archer v. Long, 46 S.C. 292, 295, 24 S.E. 83, 84 (1896). It is now part of the rules of civil procedure. See Rule 58(a), SCRCP (“A judgment is effective only when so set forth and entered in the record.”)

South Carolina courts have also applied this rule in many contexts:

  • Upchurch v. Upchurch, 367 S.C. 16, 624 S.E.2d 643 (2006)(determining whether a notice of appeal is timely)
  • Bayne v. Bass302 S.C. 208, 394 S.E.2d 726 (Ct.App. 1990)(determining whether an order is void because of a party’s intervening death)
  • Case v. Case, 243 S.C. 447, 134 S.E.2d 394 (1964)(determining whether a party may dismiss his or her action or claims)
  • Bowman v. Richland Mem’l Hosp.. 335 S.C. 88, 515 S.E.2d 259 (Ct.App. 1999)(determining whether an amended pleading was timely under a scheduling order).

Has anyone else been caught up in the time lapse between oral rulings, a signed order, and the signed order’s entry? Please let us hear from you.

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