Wednesday, July 27, 2005

S.C. Supreme Court issues subject matter jurisdiction opinion

Johnston v. LLR, concerned the suspension of a licensed real estate appraiser. Pursuant to statute, the Labor and Licensing Board is required to serve written notice of such a decision on the effected person within thirty days of issuing a final order. The Board failed to do so. The state court of appeals held that this failure deprived the Board of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed. According to the Court:

Although the 30-day time requirement is mandatory, it is not jurisdictional. Subject matter jurisdiction is the power to hear and determine cases of the general class to which the proceedings in question belong. Dove v. Gold Kist, 314 S.C. 235, 442 S.E.2d 598 (1994). The failure to comply with a mandatory time requirement for serving a written decision does not affect the jurisdiction of the Board to determine the real estate appraiser disciplinary matter. The failure of the Board to meet the deadline does not render the order a nullity.

We conclude the order is valid, but ineffective, until it is served upon the appraiser.

. . .

We note that, although the thirty-day time limit is mandatory, the Legislature has not provided how that mandate is to be enforced. There is no language regarding the consequences if the Board misses the deadline for serving written notice of its decision on the appraiser. Accordingly, we will not assume the Legislature intended the Board to lose its power to act for failing to comply with the statutory time limit.

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