THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
Wrenn Bail Bond
Service, Inc., Appellant,
City of Hanahan, Respondent.
Appeal From Berkeley County
Rodney A. Peeples, Judge
Opinion No. 24931
Submitted March 16, 1999 - Fi-led April 5, 1999
Grover C. Seaton, III, of Seaton & Manley, P.C., of
Moncks Corner, for appellant.
James J. Hinchey, Jr., of Haynsworth, Marion,
McKay & Guerard, L.L.P., of Charleston, for
MOORE., A.J.: Appellant Wrenn Bail Bond Service, Inc.
(Wrenn) commenced this action challenging respondent City of Hanahan's
(City's) imposition of a $120.00 business license fee. The trial judge held
City properly imposed the fee. We reverse.
Wrenn's business office is located in Moncks Corner. On April 1,
1997, Wrenn contracted with a resident of City (Prisoner) who had been
arrested in City and was incarcerated in the Berkeley County Jail located
outside City's limits. Prisoner was charged with violating a State law.
City's municipal court1 set the amount of surety bond to obtain his release.
Because the required surety form was not available at the jail, Wrenn had
to obtain a copy from City's Clerk of Court. Before releasing the form,
City insisted Wrenn pay a $120.00 fee pursuant to its business license
ordinance. The ordinance applies to enumerated businesses including bail
bond services. Wrenn paid the fee under protest.
Wrenn then commenced this action challenging the validity of the
ordinance as to bail bondsmen and its application in this instance. The
trial judge found the ordinance valid and upheld its application to Wrenn.
1. Does State law preempt business licensing for bail bondsmen?
2. Does one instance constitute doing business?
Wrenn contends State law has preempted licensing of bail bondsmen
and the business license ordinance is therefore invalid to the extent it
includes them. We disagree.
In order to preempt an entire field, a State law must make manifest
a legislative intent that no other enactment may touch upon the subject in
any way. Town of Hilton Head v. Fine Liquors, Inc., 302 S.C. 550, 397
S.E.2d 662 (1990). Under State law, Title 38, Chapter 53 ("Insurance")
regulates the professional licensing of bail bondsmen and their runners.2
court to set bond in criminal cases arising under State law. See S.C. Code
Ann. § 14-25-45 and § 15-5-510 (Supp. 1998).
2 See S.C. Code Ann. § 38-53-80 (Supp. 1998) (requiring a license); § 38
53-90 (Supp. 1998) (general qualifications); § 38-53-130 (Supp. 1998) (written
examination); §§ 38-53-100 and -105 (Supp. 1998) (annual license fees).
Section 38-53-80 specifically states that "[no] license may be issued to a
professional bondsman or runner except as provided in this chapter."
It is clear from the plain language of § 38-53-80 that the legislature
intended to preempt the entire field of professional licensing for bail
bondsmen. City's ordinance, however, does not touch on professional
licensing at all. It provides:
Every person engaged or intending to engage in any calling,
business, occupation or profession listed in the rate
classification index portion of this ordinance, in whole or in
part, within the limits of the City of Hanahan, South Carolina,
is required to pay an annual license fee and obtain a business
license as herein provided.
The ordinance sets forth no qualifications for bail bondsmen. It simply
requires payment of a fee for the privilege of doing business within City
Where an ordinance is not preempted by State law, the ordinance is
valid if there is no conflict with State law. Barnhill v. City of North
Myrtle Beach, Op. No. 24881 (S.C. Sup. Ct. filed January 18, 1999). In
order for there to be a conflict between a State law and a municipal
ordinance, both must contain either express or implied conditions that are
inconsistent and irreconcilable with each other. If either is silent where
the other speaks, there is no conflict. Id.; Wright v. Richland County Sch.
Dist. Two, 326 S.C. 271, 486 S.E.2d 740 (1997); Fine Liquors, supra.
City's ordinance is silent regarding professional qualifications for bail
Accordingly, we conclude the State professional licensing statutes are
not irreconcilable with City's business license, ordinance which does not
attempt to regulate a bail bondsman's professional conduct. Since there is
no conflict with State law, the trial judge properly found the business
license ordinance valid.
2. Doing business
Wrenn contends that even if the ordinance is valid as to bail
bondsmen, the ordinance does not apply under the facts of this case.
Generally, the determination whether a party is "doing business" in
a certain jurisdiction is dependent upon the facts of each case. See
Sanders v. Columbian Protective Ass'n., 208 S.C. 152, 37 S.E.2d 533 (1946).
We find the facts in this case do not support imposition of the business
The only fact connecting City with the actual transaction between
the parties is that Wrenn provided a service to one of its residents which
City argues constitutes doing business under the business license
ordinance. In Pee Dee Chair Co. v. City of Camden, 165 S.C. 86, 162 S.E.
771 (1932), this Court held a single act does not constitute doing business
for purposes of a business license fee where there are no facts to indicate
it is not an isolated instance but an intention to engage in business. We
find nothing in this record to indicate Wrenn's intent to engage in a
continuing business as bail bondsman for residents of City. Accordingly,
the trial judge's ruling upholding imposition of the business license fee in
this case is
FINNEY, C.J., TOAL, WALLER, and BURNETT, JJ., concur.