Courts Law South Carolina


The courts of South Carolina are governed by the Code of Laws Title 14. As per the law of South Carolina the following courts of justice are established in this State:

  1. the Supreme Court;
  2. the court of appeals;
  3. the circuit courts,
  4. probate courts;
  5. municipal courts


The Supreme Court is the Highest court and the court of last resort for all types of cases in South Carolina. The court exercises the Original as well as Appellate jurisdiction.

Original jurisdiction

The Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is also known as writ jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has the power to issue writs or orders of injunction, mandamus, quo warranto, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus and other remedial and original writs.

Appellate jurisdiction

The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may be divided in the Appellate Jurisdiction in Chancery, Appellate Jurisdiction in Law Cases,

Appellate jurisdiction in cases of Chancery

The Supreme Court exercising appellate jurisdiction in cases of chancery reviews the findings of fact as well as the law, but not in cases where the facts are settled by a jury and the verdict not set aside.

Review by the Supreme Court of the findings of fact of the Family Court is limited to a determination of whether or not there is substantial evidence to sustain such facts.

Appellate jurisdiction in law cases

The Supreme Court exercises appellate jurisdiction for correction of errors of law in law cases, and review upon appeal:

  1. Any intermediate judgment, order or decree in a law case involving the merits in actions commenced in the court of common pleas and general sessions, brought there by original process or removed there from any inferior court or jurisdiction, and final judgments in such actions;
  2. An order affecting a substantial right made in an action when such order
    1. in effect determines the action and prevents a judgment from which an appeal might be taken or discontinues the action,
    2. grants or refuses a new trial or
    3. strikes out an answer or any part thereof or any pleading in any action;
  3. A final order affecting a substantial right made in any special proceeding or upon a summary application in any action after judgment; and
  4. An interlocutory order or decree in a court of common pleas granting, continuing, modifying, or refusing an injunction or granting, continuing, modifying, or refusing the appointment of a receiver.


The Court of Appeals has the jurisdiction over any case in which an appeal is taken from an order, judgment, or decree of the circuit or family court.


This jurisdiction of the court is Appellate only, and the court applies the same scope of review as the Supreme Court apply in a similar case. The court has the authority to issue writs of supersedeas, grant stays, and grant petitions for bail.

The court, to the extent the Supreme Court may by rule provide for it to do so, shall have jurisdiction to entertain petitions for writs of certiorari in post-conviction relief matters.

Jurisdiction of the court shall not extend to appeals of the following, the appeal from which shall lie of right directly to the Supreme Court:

  1. any final judgment from the circuit court which includes a sentence of death;
  2. any final judgment from the circuit court setting public utility rates;
  3. any final judgment involving a challenge on state or federal grounds, to the constitutionality of a state law or county or municipal ordinance where the principal issue is one of the constitutionality of the law or ordinance; provided, however, in any case where the Supreme Court finds that the constitutional question raised is not a significant one, the Supreme Court may transfer the case to the court for final judgment;
  4. any final judgment from the circuit court involving the authorization, issuance, or proposed issuance of general obligation debt, revenue, institutional, industrial, or hospital bonds of the State, its agencies, political subdivisions, public service districts, counties, and municipalities, or any other indebtedness now or hereafter authorized by Article X of the Constitution of this State;
  5. any final judgment from the circuit court pertaining to elections and election procedure;
  6. any order limiting an investigation by a state grand jury;
  7. any order of the family court relating to an abortion by a minor.


Circuit courts is also known as courts of record at all times, be subject to the inspection of any person interested therein.


The circuit courts may make and establish all necessary rules for the orderly conducting of business in all other courts, provided such rules are not repugnant to the laws of the State or the rules prescribed by the justices of the Supreme Court and circuit judges.

The circuit court has jurisdiction over the following matters

  1. Contempt of court

The circuit court may punish by fine or imprisonment, at the discretion of the court, all contempts of authority in any cause or hearing before the same.

  1. Oaths and affirmations.

The circuit court may administer all necessary oaths or affirmations.

  1. Appeals from magistrates' or municipal courts

Circuit judges may hear appeals from magistrates' courts and municipal courts to the court of general sessions and the court of common pleas, upon notice as required by law being given for the hearing of such appeals.



The county court has jurisdiction to try and determine all criminal cases, except cases for murder, manslaughter, rape and attempt to rape, arson, common-law burglary, bribery and perjury.

It has also jurisdiction to try and determine all civil cases and special proceedings, both at law and in equity, when the value of the property in controversy or the amount claimed does not exceed one thousand dollars, and it hears and determine appeals taken from judgments rendered by magistrates. But it shall not have jurisdiction to try any action involving the title to real estate.



When any probate court shall have first taken cognizance of the settlement of the estate of a deceased person, such court shall have jurisdiction of the disposition and settlement of all the personal estate of such deceased person to the exclusion of all other probate courts.

The jurisdiction assumed by any probate court in any case, so far as it depends on the place of residence or the location of the estate, shall not be contested in any suit or proceeding whatever, except in an appeal from the probate court in the original case or when the want of jurisdiction appears on the record.



Each municipal court has jurisdiction to try all cases arising under the ordinances of the municipality for which established. The court also has all such powers, duties and jurisdiction in criminal cases made under state law and conferred upon magistrates. The court shall have the power to punish for contempt of court by imposition of sentences up to the limits imposed on municipal courts. The court shall have no jurisdiction in civil matters.

If a municipal court holds a party guilty of violating a municipal ordinance or a state law within the jurisdiction of the court, he may impose a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or imprisonment for thirty days, or both.