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TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 15-29-110 SO AS TO AUTHORIZE PUBLICATION OF PUBLIC OR LEGAL NOTICES OR ADVERTISEMENTS THROUGH PUBLIC NOTICE WEB SITES WHEN PUBLIC OR LEGAL NOTICE OR ADVERTISEMENT IS REQUIRED BY LAW AND TO ESTABLISH CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES THAT MUST BE FOLLOWED BY PUBLIC NOTICE WEB SITE PROVIDERS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Whereas, the General Assembly finds that public notice web sites would serve the public interest consistent with the goals of providing greater public access to public information and to public or legal notice items in particular; and
Whereas, public notice web sites allow ready access from all counties to an Internet-based forum and eliminate the need for those members of the public who are unable to physically access the courthouses of the State to ascertain publicly-posted notices; and
Whereas, public notice web sites operate consistent with furthering the ease with which public or legal notice may be posted and read by an interested party as well as the public and provide an archive to store all posted public and legal notices; and
Whereas, public notice web sites make public and legal notices accessible indefinitely during all hours of the day and every day of the week. Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Chapter 29, Title 15 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 15-29-110. (A) Notwithstanding another provision of law, when public or legal notice or advertisement is required by law, with the exception of notice requiring personal service and service by registered or certified mail, then a form of notice or advertisement that is substantially the same in form may be made through a public notice web site meeting the requirements of this section.
(B) The submission of the public or legal notice may be made at the courthouse, if possible, or may be made from a private or public access computer terminal. A reasonable fee, not to exceed ten dollars, may be charged for the provision of this service and the maintenance of the public notice web site to compensate the provider of the public notice web site. The State is not responsible for funding the operation or maintenance of a public notice web site.
(C) A public notice web site provider shall submit a status report twice yearly to the director of the Division of Court Administration indicating compliance with statutory requirements governing the posting of public or legal notice as applicable to an Internet-based web site. In addition, a public notice web site shall submit to a quality review by the director of the Division of Court Administration if, in his discretion, he finds a quality review necessary. If a quality review is requested, full access to the technical and informational operations of the public notice web site provider must be provided.
(D) In addition to other requirements contained in the section, a public notice web site provider also shall:
(1) establish and operate the public notice web site at no cost to the State or other governmental entity;
(2) maintain the public notice web site without interruption twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, each day of the year; and the public notice web site must be fully publicly accessible at all times, including all features;
(3) maintain adequate systemic protection, back-up, and contingency planning in the event of power outages, systemic failures or other unforeseen difficulties;
(4) have the right to hold and use a domain name which is easily recognizable and understandable by the citizens of the State. The domain name should indicate both functionality and geography. The right to use the domain name and Internet location must be maintained at the expense of the public notice web site provider;
(5) not infringe on a legally-protected right such as a federal provisional patent application, registered patent, or prior invention to operate a web site of this nature, and its right to operate without infringement must be clear and without the possibility of causing subsequent interruption to the site by virtue of legal process;
(6) possess appropriate hardware infrastructure and intellectual property for feasible processes to deploy a State and national web site with proper methodology for communication with the court systems of the State;
(7) have sufficient minimal capital requirements to ensure its smooth and uninterrupted ongoing operation and shall certify this to the director of the Division of Court Administration upon request;
(8) provide a reasonable plan for the implementation of the public notice web site where public or legal notices may be posted with reasonable ease onto the public notice web site directly from the courts of this State and must be ready to reasonably demonstrate and implement the technology necessary at no cost to the State. The public notice web site provider shall provide the necessary personnel to ensure ongoing communication with the various courts of the State concerning the smooth flow of data transmission and posting at no cost to the State;
(9) not at any time raise the cost for providing the web site without prior reasonable consultation with the director of the Division of Court Administration and shall not seek, in any event, to raise the cost of posting a notice for the first two years of operation;
(10) ensure that individual notices shall include at least the same information and are displayed on the public notice web site using similar display and print standards as are established for newspaper postings made pursuant to other applicable public notice statutory requirements;
(11) ensure that individual notices are displayed for not less than the length of time requested by the posting entity. At the end of the posting time, the public notice web site provider, with prior approval of the person or entity that arranged for the posting and for a reasonable fee, may send a reminder that the notice is due to expire to the entity;
(12) include an archives feature, accessible free of charge, as a public service at all times and also shall include a function which allows the public to determine which notices have been posted in a given county;
(13) provide that legal notices, both current and archived, are publicly searchable by keyword, by either party to a law suit, by courthouse file number, and by publication area;
(14) not charge a fee to a person accessing, searching, or using a public notice web site function, except for the posting of a notice as allowed by this section; and
(15) post a bond of reasonable amount sufficient to insure the public interest as may be required by the director of the Division of Court Administration."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
This web page was last updated on Monday, June 22, 2009 at 2:44 P.M.