Supreme Court Seal
Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Department
24931 - Wrenn Bail Bond v. City of Hanahan
Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 13
S.E. 2d


In The Supreme Court

Wrenn Bail Bond

Service, Inc., Appellant,


City of Hanahan, Respondent.

Appeal From Berkeley County

Rodney A. Peeples, Judge

Opinion No. 24931

Submitted March 16, 1999 - Fi-led April 5, 1999


Grover C. Seaton, III, of Seaton & Manley, P.C., of

Moncks Corner, for appellant.

James J. Hinchey, Jr., of Haynsworth, Marion,

McKay & Guerard, L.L.P., of Charleston, for


MOORE., A.J.: Appellant Wrenn Bail Bond Service, Inc.

(Wrenn) commenced this action challenging respondent City of Hanahan's

(City's) imposition of a $120.00 business license fee. The trial judge held

City properly imposed the fee. We reverse.


Wrenn's business office is located in Moncks Corner. On April 1,



1997, Wrenn contracted with a resident of City (Prisoner) who had been

arrested in City and was incarcerated in the Berkeley County Jail located

outside City's limits. Prisoner was charged with violating a State law.

City's municipal court1 set the amount of surety bond to obtain his release.

Because the required surety form was not available at the jail, Wrenn had

to obtain a copy from City's Clerk of Court. Before releasing the form,

City insisted Wrenn pay a $120.00 fee pursuant to its business license

ordinance. The ordinance applies to enumerated businesses including bail

bond services. Wrenn paid the fee under protest.

Wrenn then commenced this action challenging the validity of the

ordinance as to bail bondsmen and its application in this instance. The

trial judge found the ordinance valid and upheld its application to Wrenn.

Wrenn appeals.


1. Does State law preempt business licensing for bail bondsmen?

2. Does one instance constitute doing business?


1. Preemption

Wrenn contends State law has preempted licensing of bail bondsmen

and the business license ordinance is therefore invalid to the extent it

includes them. We disagree.

In order to preempt an entire field, a State law must make manifest

a legislative intent that no other enactment may touch upon the subject in

any way. Town of Hilton Head v. Fine Liquors, Inc., 302 S.C. 550, 397

S.E.2d 662 (1990). Under State law, Title 38, Chapter 53 ("Insurance")

regulates the professional licensing of bail bondsmen and their runners.2

1 A municipal court has concurrent jurisdiction with the magistrate's

court to set bond in criminal cases arising under State law. See S.C. Code

Ann. 14-25-45 and 15-5-510 (Supp. 1998).

2 See S.C. Code Ann. 38-53-80 (Supp. 1998) (requiring a license); 38

53-90 (Supp. 1998) (general qualifications); 38-53-130 (Supp. 1998) (written

examination); 38-53-100 and -105 (Supp. 1998) (annual license fees).



Section 38-53-80 specifically states that "[no] license may be issued to a

professional bondsman or runner except as provided in this chapter."

It is clear from the plain language of 38-53-80 that the legislature

intended to preempt the entire field of professional licensing for bail

bondsmen. City's ordinance, however, does not touch on professional

licensing at all. It provides:

Every person engaged or intending to engage in any calling,

business, occupation or profession listed in the rate

classification index portion of this ordinance, in whole or in

part, within the limits of the City of Hanahan, South Carolina,

is required to pay an annual license fee and obtain a business

license as herein provided.

The ordinance sets forth no qualifications for bail bondsmen. It simply

requires payment of a fee for the privilege of doing business within City


Where an ordinance is not preempted by State law, the ordinance is

valid if there is no conflict with State law. Barnhill v. City of North

Myrtle Beach, Op. No. 24881 (S.C. Sup. Ct. filed January 18, 1999). In

order for there to be a conflict between a State law and a municipal

ordinance, both must contain either express or implied conditions that are

inconsistent and irreconcilable with each other. If either is silent where

the other speaks, there is no conflict. Id.; Wright v. Richland County Sch.

Dist. Two, 326 S.C. 271, 486 S.E.2d 740 (1997); Fine Liquors, supra.

City's ordinance is silent regarding professional qualifications for bail


Accordingly, we conclude the State professional licensing statutes are

not irreconcilable with City's business license, ordinance which does not

attempt to regulate a bail bondsman's professional conduct. Since there is

no conflict with State law, the trial judge properly found the business

license ordinance valid.

2. Doing business

Wrenn contends that even if the ordinance is valid as to bail

bondsmen, the ordinance does not apply under the facts of this case.

Generally, the determination whether a party is "doing business" in



a certain jurisdiction is dependent upon the facts of each case. See

Sanders v. Columbian Protective Ass'n., 208 S.C. 152, 37 S.E.2d 533 (1946).

We find the facts in this case do not support imposition of the business

license fee.

The only fact connecting City with the actual transaction between

the parties is that Wrenn provided a service to one of its residents which

City argues constitutes doing business under the business license

ordinance. In Pee Dee Chair Co. v. City of Camden, 165 S.C. 86, 162 S.E.

771 (1932), this Court held a single act does not constitute doing business

for purposes of a business license fee where there are no facts to indicate

it is not an isolated instance but an intention to engage in business. We

find nothing in this record to indicate Wrenn's intent to engage in a

continuing business as bail bondsman for residents of City. Accordingly,

the trial judge's ruling upholding imposition of the business license fee in

this case is