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Electronic filing is compulsory in Chancery Division cases from today

Today, the use of electronic working becomes compulsory in Rolls Building courts, that is the Chancery Division of the High Court, the Commercial Court, the Technology and Construction Court and the Mercantile Court and Admiralty Court.

Electronic working was introduced on a pilot scheme basis in these Rolls Building courts on 16 November 2015 and so it is nothing new to professional users. The court system, CE-File, allows parties to issue claims and file documents electronically, and to pay court fees online, 24 hours a day, all year round. The only difference now is that electronic working is compulsory and therefore it is no longer possible for professional users to issue claims or applications or to file documents on paper. All issuing and filings will have to made by CE-File even for cases that have not been started by electronic working.

Electronic working will apply to most types of claim except for issuing contentious probate claims or presenting a bankruptcy or winding up petition. It is even likely that court bundles will be filed electronically although paper copies will still be required for most hearings.

The Dispute Resolution team at Maitland Walker welcome the introduction of mandatory electronic filing because:

  • it is much easier and cost effective to file documents with the Court electronically than in person as was often considered appropriate instead of posting documents to the court; and
  • it is easier for third parties to request office copies of pleadings via the CE-File system because the court’s agreed service level in respect of such requests is to accept them within 48 hours and process them within 5 working days making the process of obtaining office copies much quicker than previously.

Care will need to be taken when a party is facing an imminent limitation period expiry or deadline since although the date and time a document is filed is the date and time of submission and / or payment of any required court fee, if the submission fails the Acceptance stage, i.e. if there is an error with the submission that is not simply a minor procedural error, then the court can reject the filing and a limitation period or deadline could then have expired leaving a party in difficulty.

Maitland Walker has a nationally recognised practice in litigation and dispute resolution and attracts instructions from around the country. We specialise in complex, high value disputes with a particular strength in multi-party litigation but we have acted for both business and individual claimants and defendants in claims ranging in value from a few thousand pounds to hundreds of thousand pounds.

If you wish to discuss a potential or existing claim please contact Julian Maitland-Walker or Sheree-Ann Virgin.