Supreme Court clarifies when email notice is proper notice

In 2015, when the Court of Appeals, in the case of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Fallon Properties, SC, LLC, 413 S.C. 642, 776 S.E.2d 575 (Ct. App. 2015), dismissed an appeal due to untimely service of the notice of appeal where appellant had received written notice of the entry of the order via email, I noted that email notice now might be sufficient notice for family court appeals. However, that case left unanswered whether email might be proper notice for other matters. Further, when the Supreme Court granted certiorari, it was unclear whether the Court of Appeals decision would stand. Since timely filing of notices of appeal is jurisdictional, this lack of clarity was concerning, with the safest approach to treat email notice as sufficient.

The February 28, 2018 Supreme Court opinion in this case clarifies the issue. Email notice of the entry of the order is sufficient to trigger deadlines for notices of appeal so long as the email is “sent from the court, an attorney of record, or a party.” It does not appear that email notice is sufficient for any notice requirements under Rule 5, SCRCP [the rule addressing most notice requirements in circuit and family court] which requires written notices be served by mail or hand delivery. Because of the prior lack of clarity in the notice requirements for appeals, the Supreme Court decided to apply this determination prospectively.

Two takeaways from this Supreme Court opinion: 1) email notice is sufficient to trigger appeal deadlines if the email is sent from the court, an attorney of record, or a party; 2) email notice is still not sufficient for other civil procedure matters.

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