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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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RULE 244
CERTIFICATION OF QUESTIONS OF LAW

(a) Scope of Certification. The Supreme Court in its discretion may answer questions of law certified to it by any federal court of the United States or the highest appellate court or an intermediate appellate court of any other state, when requested by the certifying court if there are involved in any proceeding before that court questions of law of this state which may be determinative of the cause then pending in the certifying court when it appears to the certifying court there is no controlling precedent in the decisions of the Supreme Court.

(b) Procedure. The certification order shall be signed by the presiding judge or the chief judge, and forwarded to the Supreme Court by the clerk of the certifying court under its official seal. A certification order shall set forth the questions of law to be answered, all findings of fact relevant to the questions certified, and a statement showing fully the nature of the controversy in which the questions arose. The Supreme Court will not consider any documents or other evidentiary materials unless the certifying court has submitted those materials. The Supreme Court may request the original or copies of all or of any portion of the record before the certifying court to be filed with the Court, if, in the opinion of the Supreme Court, the record or a portion thereof may be necessary in deciding to accept or in answering the questions. In the event a party believes that additional materials from the record before the certifying court are necessary, it shall notify the Supreme Court and the certifying court so that the certifying court can determine if the additional materials will be submitted.

(c) Action by the Supreme Court. Within forty-five (45) days of receiving a certification order, the Supreme Court shall notify the certifying court and the parties of its decision to answer or refuse to answer the questions certified. At the same time the Supreme Court gives notice of its decision to answer the questions, it shall also inform the certifying court and the parties of the approximate date the questions will come before the Supreme Court for consideration.

(d) Pro Hac Vice Admission. Within fifteen (15) days of the date of the order of the Supreme Court agreeing to answer the certified question(s), any counsel representing a party before the certifying court who is not licensed to practice law in South Carolina and who desires to participate in the proceedings before the Supreme Court, shall make a motion to be admitted pro hac vice and file the  application required by Rule 404, SCACR. In recognition of the unique nature of the proceedings under this rule, a counsel representing a party before the certifying court may be admitted pro hac vice without associating South Carolina counsel and without paying the application fee required by Rule 404. In all other respects, the motion and application must fully comply with the requirements of Rules 240 and 404, SCACR.

(e) Briefs. The plaintiff in the trial court or the appealing party in the appellate court shall serve and file his brief within thirty (30) days from the date of receipt of the notice from the Supreme Court specified in Rule 244(c) and the opposing party shall serve and file a respondent's brief within thirty (30) days after service of copies of the plaintiff's or appellant's brief. Within ten (10) days after service of the respondent’s brief, the plaintiff or appellant may serve and file a reply brief. The briefs shall, to the extent possible, have the same content as briefs under Rule 208(b), and shall be served and filed in the same number and manner as provided by Rule 211, to include proof of service.

(f) Rescission of Certification. The Supreme Court, in its discretion, may rescind its agreement to answer a certified question. Upon deciding to rescind, the Supreme Court shall notify the parties and the certifying court of its action.

(g) Decision. The written opinion of the Supreme Court stating the law governing the questions certified shall be sent to the certifying court and to the parties by the Clerk under the seal of the Supreme Court. The decision shall be accorded the same force and effect as any other decision of the Supreme Court and shall be published with the opinions of the Supreme Court.

(h) Certification to Other Courts. An appellate court, on its own motion or the motion of any party, may order certification of questions of law to the highest court of any state when it appears to the court that there are involved in any proceeding before the court questions of law of the receiving state which may be determinative of the cause then pending in the court and it appears to the court that there are no controlling precedents in the decisions of the highest court or intermediate appellate courts of the receiving state.

Last Amended by Order dated April 15, 2014.