E-filing: top five tips

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past year or so, or are in complete denial, it will not have escaped your attention that 25 April 2017 is the day when e-filing will become mandatory for all courts in the Rolls Building, shortly to be part of the new Business and Property Courts.

Following on from the blog on e-filing by Thomson Reuters from the provider’s perspective, this blog is from the viewpoint of the court user.

As with many firms, we have been using the e-filing system for over a year. In that period, we have been putting in place internal processes designed to ensure that we are ready to work with the e-filing system across all relevant cases when it becomes compulsory. There are a number of issues that have arisen out of our experience of filing documents on CE-File. It is from that perspective that we set out our top five points to look out for.

1. Ensure you provide your court clerk with sufficient information to complete the e-filing

The previous counter service method of issuing documents and drawing up orders allowed court clerks to highlight to court staff what needed to be done in each instance. The option of speaking to the court staff when using CE-File will not be open to your court clerk when documents are filed electronically.

However, they are able to make written representations in the “comments” box when filing documents; this leads on to our second tip.

2. Comments box

The comments box is principally a note to the court staff. If an application is to be immediately referred to the judge, the judge will not be able to see any of the narrative entered into the comments box. If you want the judge to see additional comments, they should be set out in a covering letter and the letter should be e-filed as “add another”.

3. Submitting orders for sealing and applications on paper

When submitting a paper application or a consent order, you should enter your own email address and that of your court clerk in the comments box. By doing so, you will receive an email notification when an order has been made to prompt you to check the case on CE-File and extract the order from case view.

When submitting a consent order by CE-File, you should also ensure that you attach a Word version of the order, without the parties’ signature block, via the “add another” option. If you fail to do so, the court may refuse to accept the consent order.

If a master or a judge amends the draft order at a hearing, the responsibility of redrafting that order falls to you, the applicant. When you resubmit the draft order by CE-File, it should be submitted under:

“Application to a Judge/Master” – “Minute of Order lodged from a hearing before a Judge/Master”.

The master/judge’s amendments/directions should be attached under “add another”. If you do not do this, you run the risk of CE-File demanding a second court fee.

Once the consent order is approved, the court will enter the name of the master or the judge, date the order and then seal it.

4. Don’t leave it until the last minute

There will of course be many occasions when there will need to be a last minute filing, particularly if there is a delay in receiving the necessary instructions or documents. However, if at all possible you should avoid leaving the filing until the 11th hour.

The court will be publishing a charter giving details of the turnaround times for each type of filing. These are currently as follows:

  • Priority one. Claim forms, applications, defences, acknowledgments of service – all within 90 minutes of filing within court office hours (10:00am – 4:30pm).
  • Priority two. Consent orders and all other types of filing – all within three hours of filing within court office hours.
  • Priority three. Office copies – within 48 hours within court office hours.

With regard to insolvency matters, if you want to be sure that your notice of intention or notice of appointment (NOI/NOA) is accepted the same day as you file it, the court has indicated that you should not file it later than 3pm. It is also recommended that you ring the court when submitting it, to make sure that it can be approved where time is tight.

Approval of documents by the court will be done in chronological order within the respective classification as set out above. Consequently, an originating application cannot overtake another originating application if filed later in time.

5. Change users: particulars when trainees move seats

If you have an e-filing account and shared access to a case with other fee-earners, including trainees, please ensure that, if the fee-earner moves elsewhere, the matter is shared with the successor fee-earner and that the previous fee-earner account is deleted.

What’s next?

A new Practice Direction 510 is due to be issued at the end of April 2017 which will set out the changes that have emerged to the Practice Direction since its inception, including dealing with insolvency matters and when hard copy documents need to be filed. It is hoped that it will also bring greater clarity to the brave new world of e-filing.

Stephenson Harwood Jane Leech Daniel Curtin

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