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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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Rule 4
Selection or Appointment of Neutral

(a) Eligibility. A neutral may be a person who:

(1) is a certified neutral under Rule 15; or

(2) is not a certified neutral but, in the opinion of all the parties is otherwise qualified by training or experience to mediate, arbitrate or evaluate all or some of the issues in the action. If the person is not a certified neutral, he or she must disclose the lack of certification and obtain written consent from all parties to the ADR Conference on a form approved by the Supreme Court or its designee.

(b) Roster of Certified Neutrals. The Board shall maintain a current roster ("Roster") of neutrals certified under Rule 15 who are willing to serve in each county. The Board shall make the Roster available to the clerks of court for each county. A certified neutral shall notify the Supreme Court's Board of Arbitrator and Mediator Certification if the neutral desires to be added to or deleted from the Roster. The Board and clerk of court for each county shall make this roster available to the public.

(c) Appointment of Mediator by Circuit Court. In circuit court cases subject to ADR in which no Proof of ADR has been filed on the 210th day after the filing of the action, the Clerk of Court shall appoint a primary mediator and a secondary mediator from the current Roster on a rotating basis from among those mediators agreeing to accept cases in the county in which the action has been filed. A Notice of ADR appointing the mediators shall be issued upon a form approved by the Supreme Court or its designee. In the event of a conflict of interest with the primary mediator, the secondary mediator shall serve. In the event of a conflict of interest with the secondary mediator, and if the parties have not agreed to the selection of an alternative mediator, the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney shall immediately file with the Clerk of Court a written notice advising the court of this fact and requesting the appointment of two more mediators. In lieu of mediation, the parties may select non-binding arbitration or early neutral evaluation pursuant to these rules.

In medical malpractice cases subject to pre-suit mediation as required by S.C. Code § 15-79-125(C), the Notice of Intent to File Suit shall be filed in accordance with procedures for filing a lis pendens and requires the same filing fee as provided by S.C. Code § 8-21-310(11)(b). The Notice of Intent to File Suit shall contain language directed to the defendant(s) that the dispute is subject to pre-suit mediation within 120 days and must contain a place for the names of the primary and secondary mediators. At the time the Notice of Intent to File Suit is filed, the Clerk of Court shall appoint a primary mediator and a secondary mediator in the manner set forth in the paragraph above. The plaintiff shall serve the defendants with the Notice of Intent to File Suit containing the mediator appointment. Notwithstanding the clerk's appointments, the parties by agreement may choose a different mediator at any time.

(d) Appointment of Mediator by Family Court. In family court cases subject to ADR, early mediation is encouraged.

(1) If there are unresolved issues of custody or visitation, the court may in its discretion order an early mediation of those issues upon motion of a party or upon the court's own motion.

(2) If issues are in dispute and no Proof of ADR has been filed certifying that the issues have been mediated, the parties must mediate those issues prior to the scheduling of a hearing on the merits; provided, however, the parties may submit the issues of property and alimony to binding arbitration in accordance with subparagraph (5). A mediator shall be designated in the following manner:

(A) When the parties file a request for a merits hearing, the request shall include the name of the stipulated mediator or a request for appointment of a mediator. The court shall not schedule a hearing on the merits until a Proof of ADR has been filed.

(B) If a mediator has not been stipulated in the request for merits hearing, the clerk of court shall appoint a primary mediator and a secondary mediator from the current Roster on a rotating basis from among those mediators agreeing to accept cases in the county in which the action has been filed. A Notice of ADR appointing the mediators shall be issued upon a form approved by the Supreme Court or its designee.

(3) In the event of a conflict of interest with the primary mediator, the secondary mediator shall serve. In the event of a conflict of interest with the secondary mediator, and if the parties have not agreed to the selection of an alternative mediator, the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney shall immediately file with the Clerk of Court a written notice advising the court of this fact and requesting the appointment of two more mediators.

(4) An initial mediation conference must occur within thirty (30) days of appointment or selection. The parties must complete mediation and file a Proof of ADR with the clerk's office before a merits hearing can be scheduled.

(5) In lieu of mediation, the parties may elect to submit issues of property and alimony to binding arbitration in accordance with the Uniform Arbitration Act, S.C. Code § 15-48-10 et seq., or submit all issues to early neutral evaluation pursuant to these rules.

(e) By agreement. By agreement, the parties may choose a neutral at any time. In any event, the ADR conference shall be held on or before the deadlines provided for in these rules.

(f) Notice to Neutral. The parties shall notify the selected or appointed neutral to initiate scheduling of the ADR Conference.

Last amended by Order dated May 1, 2013.