Supreme Court Seal
Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch

Rule 12
Non-Binding Arbitration Hearing and Award

(a)  Scope. This rule applies only to non-binding arbitrations. Nothing in this rule shall be construed to apply to binding arbitration pursuant to the Uniform Arbitration Act as adopted in South Carolina. Arbitrations selected by the parties under these rules are deemed non-binding arbitrations unless otherwise expressly agreed by the parties.

(b)  Arbitration Hearings. The following shall apply to arbitration hearings, unless otherwise expressly agreed by the parties:

(1)  Witnesses may be compelled to testify under oath or affirmation and produce evidence by the same authority and to the same extent as if the hearing were at trial. The arbitrator is empowered and authorized to administer oaths and affirmations.

(2)  Rule 45, SCRCP, shall apply to subpoenas for attendance of witnesses and production of documentary evidence at an arbitration hearing under these rules.

(3)  The arbitrator shall have the authority of a trial judge to govern the conduct of hearings, except for the power to punish for contempt. The arbitrator shall refer all contempt matters to the Chief Judge for Administrative Purposes.

(4)  The South Carolina Rules of Evidence do not apply, except as to privilege, in an arbitration hearing but shall be considered as a guide toward full and fair development of the facts. The arbitrator shall consider all evidence presented and give it the weight and effect the arbitrator determines appropriate.

(5)  No ex parte communications between the parties or their counsel and the arbitrator are permitted.

(6)  The arbitration hearing shall be limited to two hours unless the arbitrator determines that more time is necessary to insure fairness and justice to the parties. The arbitrator is not required to receive repetitive or cumulative evidence.

(7)  No recording or transcript of an arbitration hearing shall be made.

(c)  Award. Unless otherwise expressly agreed by the parties:

(1)  The award shall be in writing, signed by the arbitrator. Within ten (10) business days after the hearing is concluded, the arbitrator shall serve the original award on the prevailing party, copies of the award on all other parties, and a Proof of ADR with the court, together with a certificate of service. The arbitration hearing is concluded when all the evidence is in and any arguments or post-hearing briefs the arbitrator permits have been completed or received.

(2)  The award must resolve all issues raised by the pleadings.

(3)  Findings of facts and conclusions of law or opinions supporting an award are not required.

(d)  Trial De Novo as a Right. Any party not in default for a reason subjecting that party to judgment by default who is dissatisfied with an arbitrator's award may have a trial de novo of right upon filing a written demand for trial de novo with the court, and service of the demand on all parties on a form approved by the Supreme Court or its designee within thirty (30) days after receipt of the arbitrator's award. No evidence that there has been an arbitration proceeding or any fact concerning the arbitration may be admitted in a trial, or in any subsequent proceeding involving any of the issues in or parties to the arbitration, without the consent of all parties and the court's approval.

(e)  Judgment Entered on Award. If the case is not terminated by agreement of the parties, and no party files a demand for trial de novo under Rule 12(d), the prevailing party shall submit to the Chief Judge for Administrative Purposes a proposed order directing the entry of judgment on the award, which when entered, shall have the same effect as a consent judgment in the action and may be enforced accordingly.