After the trial, judgment will be entered in favor of the winning party. If the winning party is awarded a money judgment, the losing party may satisfy the judgment by paying the amount of the judgment plus the awarded court costs (and interest and attorney fees if provided by statute or contract) to the winning party. Since a magistrate cannot punish a party for failing to pay a judgment, the party seeking relief must resort to other procedures for collection.
The magistrate court will provide the prevailing party with a transcript of judgment after the trial. This transcript should be filed immediately with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The Clerk of Court's Office for Spartanburg County is located in Room 274, on the second floor of the Courthouse. A filing fee of ten ($10.00) dollars will be charged by the Clerk of Court's Office for this service. This fee will have already been added to the amount of the judgment on the transcript. Once the transcript is filed, the judgment becomes one of record and will be enforceable for ten (10) years from the date of the judgment. Upon filing with the Clerk of Court, the judgment automatically creates a lien upon the real estate of the judgment debtor situated in the county in which the transcript is filed for a period of ten (10) years from the date of the judgment. Filing the transcript in the Clerk of Court's office does not create a lien on the personal property of the judgment debtor unless and until it is levied upon by way of execution.
Execution is defined as the remedy afforded by law for the enforcement and accomplishment of the terms of a judgment. An execution must be filed in the Clerk of Court's Office. It directs the Sheriff to take the non-exempt personal property and real estate of the judgment debtor, sell it a public auction, and pay the money made on the sale to the winning party to satisfy the judgment.
Judgments draw interest in the amount of twelve (12%) percent a year, unless another rate is agreed upon by contract. (§34-31-20) It is the winning party's responsibility to make sure that the proper amount of interest is calculated and collected prior to indicating the judgment satisfied in the Clerk of Court's Office. You may wish to contact an attorney about this procedure.
The judgment creditor should keep in mind that other creditors might have priority on the judgment debtor's assets by reason of judgments or liens obtained earlier. Also, a lot of the judgment debtor's property is exempt from execution by law. Section 15-41-30 of the South Carolina Code of Laws specifies the property that is protected (exempted) from execution.
If the judgment debtor fails, within sixty (60) days to satisfy a judgment in a cause of action arising out of a motor vehicle accident, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety will suspend the judgment debtor's license and registration, and any non-resident operating privilege, upon receipt of a certified copy of the transcript of judgment from the Clerk of Court. (§56-9-430) The transcript should be sent to the following address:
South Carolina Department of Public Safety
Financial Responsibility Division
P.O. Box 1498
Columbia, SC 29216
There may be other remedies available for the collection of a judgment. If you encounter difficulty collecting a judgment, we highly recommend that you seek the assistance of a qualified attorney.