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154Type of Legislation: General Bill GBIntroducing Body: SenateIntroduced Date: 20010117Primary Sponsor: GregoryAll Sponsors: GregoryDrafted Document Number: l:\council\bills\dka\4045mm01.docResiding Body: HouseCurrent Committee: Judiciary Committee 25 HJDate of Last Amendment: 20010329Subject: Business Debt Recovery Act of 2001, Courts, Judgments, Consumer Affairs, Businesses and Corporations, TortsHistory Body Date Action Description Com Leg Involved ______ ________ ______________________________________ _______ ____________ House 20010404 Introduced, read first time, 25 HJ referred to Committee Senate 20010403 Read third time, sent to House ------ 20010330 Scrivener's error corrected Senate 20010329 Read second time Senate 20010329 Committee amendment adopted Senate 20010328 Committee report: Favorable with 11 SJ amendment Senate 20010117 Introduced, read first time, 11 SJ referred to Committee Versions of This Bill Revised on March 28, 2001 - Word format Revised on March 29, 2001 - Word format Revised on March 30, 2001 - Word format
Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
COMMITTEE AMENDMENT ADOPTED
March 29, 2001
S. Printed 3/29/01--S. [SEC 3/30/01 3:36 PM]
Read the first time January 17, 2001.
TO AMEND TITLE 15, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO CIVIL REMEDIES AND PROCEDURES, BY ADDING CHAPTER 42 SO AS TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA BUSINESS DEBT RECOVERY ACT OF 2001", TO PROVIDE PROCEDURES THAT GRANT TO PERSONS WHO HAVE RECOVERED JUDGMENTS AGAINST ANOTHER PERSON FOR A COMMERCIAL DEBT A RIGHT TO A WRIT OF GARNISHMENT, SUBJECTING TO GARNISHMENT UP TO SPECIFIED LIMITATIONS INCOME, WAGES, INTEREST, RENTS, CAPITAL GAINS, DIVIDEND BONUSES, AND COMMISSIONS OF THE DEBTOR; TO AMEND SECTION 15-39-410, RELATING TO PROPERTY ORDERED FOR APPLICATION TO EXECUTION, SO AS TO DELETE THE EXCEPTION FOR EARNINGS FOR PERSONAL SERVICES; AND TO AMEND SECTION 37-5-104, RELATING TO THE PROHIBITION AGAINST GARNISHMENT FOR CERTAIN CONSUMER DEBTS, SO AS TO PERMIT GARNISHMENT FOR COMMERCIAL DEBTS AS DEFINED IN CHAPTER 42 OF TITLE 15.
Amend Title To Conform
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Title 15 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 15-42-10. This chapter may be cited as the 'South Carolina Business Debt Recovery Act of 2001'.
Section 15-42-20. (A) Each person who has recovered judgment in a court against another person to recover a 'commercial debt', as defined in this chapter, has a right to a writ of garnishment, in the manner provided in this chapter, to satisfy the judgment he has obtained by subjecting to garnishment income, wages, bonuses, and commissions of the judgment debtor. Except for those types of income, no other types of personal property of the debtor are subject to garnishment, and the term 'property' of the debtor or any other similar term, as used in this chapter in regard to garnishment, must be construed in the manner provided in this section.
(B) The term 'commercial debt' as used in this chapter means a nonconsumer debtor or a debt resulting from a revolving credit account that is not a consumer credit transaction as defined in Section 37-1-301(11) or other debt of a consumer as defined in Section 37-1-301(10). A commercial debt, for purposes of this chapter, does not include a mortgage on a residence that qualifies as a person's legal residence pursuant to Section 12-43-220(c).
(C) Child support payments are not income subject to garnishment under this chapter. However, garnishment of income for required child support payments otherwise provided for by the laws of this State or under federal law continues in full force and effect and is not affected by the provisions of this chapter.
(D) For a commercial debt, as defined in subsection (B), to be subject to other provisions of this chapter, the debtor and the creditor before entering into the transaction must agree voluntarily and knowingly, in writing, that the transaction is a commercial debt for this purpose.
Section 15-42-30. (A) After judgment has been obtained against a defendant, the judgment creditor must serve notice on the debtor of intent to apply for a writ of garnishment. The judgment creditor also must serve with the notice an affidavit of search stating the amount of the judgment and that the plaintiff has searched for and was unable to find property on which a levy may be made sufficient to satisfy the judgment. The affidavit of search may be filed only after the return of execution has been issued by the sheriff marked "nulla bona". The notice must give the judgment debtor thirty days to serve a written response.
(B) The notice must be in writing and conspicuously state:
(1) the name, address, and telephone number of the judgment creditor to whom the garnished payments must be made;
(2) a brief identification of the debt;
(3) a statement that, if the debt is not paid, the judgment creditor may apply for a writ of garnishment;
(4) the debtor's right to cure the debt; and
(5) the amount of payment and date by which payment must be made to cure the debt before garnishment.
A notice must be substantially in the following form:
(name, address, and telephone number of judgment creditor)
(name, address, and telephone number of judgment debtor)
(amount of judgment now due)
(description of judgment)
(last date for payment before garnishment applied for)
Section 15-42-40. (A)(1) Thirty days after service of the notice, the judgment creditor may file with the circuit court the original notice, affidavit of search, affidavit of service, a response, and a motion for writ of garnishment together with a filing fee of twenty-five dollars.
(2) If the judgment debtor serves an answer to the notice, the court must set the motion for hearing and notify all parties of the hearing.
(B) If the judgment debtor fails to answer, the court must issue a writ of garnishment against the judgment debtor for the amount of the judgment. The judgment subjected to the writ of garnishment may not contain interest, attorney's fees, or other default-related charges, except that if the underlying written contractual obligation provides for lawful attorney's fees or interest at or after judgment on the obligation not in excess of the rate of interest lawfully applied to the contract prior to judgment on the obligation, the judgment may contain interest calculated at a rate no higher than the contract rate, and in the absence of a written contract, the legal rate of interest.
(C) Upon receipt of the writ of garnishment, the judgment creditor must forward a copy to the employer or other garnishee of the judgment debtor, which writ must provide for the periodic payments of a stated portion of the salary or wages of the judgment debtor as provided in Section 15-42-50. The judgment creditor also must forward to the employer or other garnishee instructions for forwarding the remittance by the employer or other garnishee to the judgment creditor must be made, the content of which must be prescribed by court rule.
(D) Until the judgment is satisfied or until otherwise provided by court order, the court must allow the judgment debtor's employer and subsequent employers or other garnishee to collect up to three dollars against the salary or wages of the judgment debtor to reimburse the employer or other garnishee for administrative costs for each deduction from the judgment debtor's salary or wages.
(E) The employer or other garnishee must remit the funds withheld to the judgment creditor within fifteen days or by the next pay period, whichever is later, after withholding. An employer or other garnishee who garnishes wages but wilfully violates the requirements of this chapter in regard to the remittance of an employee's earnings or other garnishable income to a judgment creditor is subject to a civil penalty of not more than two hundred fifty dollars for each violation (maximum one penalty per debtor) to be imposed at the discretion of the court. The creditor has a right of action against the employer for any garnished wages not remitted, to include the recovery of reasonable attorney's fees and costs, except that the employer or other garnishee lawfully may cease to withhold funds from the salary or wages of the judgment debtor upon the satisfaction of the judgment or at such time provided otherwise by the court.
(F) The employee must be credited fully with payment toward the debt in the amount garnished even if those funds are not remitted to the creditor by the employer or other garnishee.
Section 15-42-50. (A) As used in this chapter:
(1) 'Disposable earnings' means that part of the earnings of an individual remaining after the deduction from those earnings of the amount of employee-elected benefits and those amounts required by law to be withheld, including child support, state and federal taxes, FICA, and amounts pursuant to Chapter 8 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act.
(2) 'Earnings' means compensation paid or payable for personal service, whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, or otherwise.
(3) 'Employer' means a person doing business in this State for whom individuals perform a service, of whatever nature, as the employee of the person. If the person for whom the individual performs services does not have control over the payment of wages for the services, the term 'employer' means the person having control of the payment of wages.
(4) 'Person' includes individuals, firms, partnerships, associations, corporations, the State of South Carolina, and political subdivisions of the State of South Carolina.
(B) Notwithstanding subsection (A) of this section, the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subject to garnishment may not exceed twenty-five percent of his disposable earnings for that week. The garnishment must not bring an individual's disposable earnings below the standards set by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
(C) The limitation of garnishment in subsection (B) applies even if the garnishee receives a writ of garnishment in more than one garnishment case naming the same defendant. A garnishee may not withhold from the disposable earnings of the defendant a sum greater than the amount prescribed by subsection (B), as applicable, regardless of the number of writs. Valid prior recorded writs of garnishment have priority over valid subsequently recorded writs of garnishment.
(D) The administrative costs in Section 15-42-40(D) must be included for purposes of computing the maximum amount of disposable earnings subject to garnishment.
(E) In the event of a good faith error by the employer or other garnishee in violation of this section or in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the employer or other garnishee must be held harmless by the creditor or creditors.
(F) Multiple garnishments of the same judgment debtor must be satisfied in the order, by date, that the employer receives notice under Section 15-42-30(C).
Section 15-42-60. Within twenty days of full payment of the amount owed, the judgment creditor must file a satisfaction of judgment with the clerk of court in each county where the judgment was filed. A judgment creditor who fails to file a satisfaction of judgment pursuant to this section is subject to a penalty of two hundred fifty dollars payable to the clerk of court.
Section 15-42-70. (A) Funds or benefits from a pension or retirement program or funds or benefits from an individual retirement account are exempt from the process of garnishment until paid or otherwise transferred to a member or beneficiary of the program. The funds or benefits, when paid or otherwise transferred to the member or beneficiary, are exempt from the process of garnishment only to the extent provided in Section 15-42-50 for other disposable earnings, except that a greater exemption may be provided in Section 15-41-30 or another provision of law.
(B) Disability and workers' compensation benefits are not subject to garnishment.
Section 15-42-80. The remedy provided by this chapter is not exclusive but is in addition to other collection procedures provided by the laws of this State in effect at the time this chapter takes effect and is optional with the judgment creditor.
Section 15-42-90. This chapter does not apply to garnishment for income tax purposes or other purposes otherwise provided for by the laws of this State."
SECTION 2. Section 37-5-104 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 37-5-104. With respect to a debt arising from a consumer credit sale, a consumer lease, a consumer loan, or a consumer rental-purchase agreement, regardless of where made, except those transactions which are commercial debts as defined in Chapter 42 of Title 15, the creditor may not attach unpaid earnings of the debtor by garnishment or like proceedings."
SECTION 3. Section 37-5-108(4) of the 1976 Code is amended by adding the following subsection (g) to read:
"(g) inducing a debtor or prospective debtor in a consumer credit obligation to sign a statement indicating that the debt or prospective debt in incurred for business or commercial purposes with the effect of making the debt or prospective debt subject to levy or garnishment under the South Carolina Business Debt Recovery Act, Chapter 42 of Title 15, with the purpose or effect of depriving the debtor or prospective debtor of rights he would otherwise have under Title 37. In determining whether a creditor has violated the unconscionability requirements with regard to this subsection, the court may not deem as determinative any statement the debtor or prospective debtor may have signed indicating the debt was incurred for business or commercial purposes but must afford the parties a reasonable opportunity to present evidence as to the conduct of the parties and the setting, purpose, and effect of the agreement or transaction."
SECTION 4. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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