UK: The Shape of Things to Come – Electronic Working at the RCJ

Last Updated: 6 July 2010
Article by Richard Perkoff

First published in March 2010


It may come as news to some that the Court Service has been trialling eFiling at the RCJ since last summer. It is already available in the Commercial Court, the TCC and the Chancery Division with bankruptcy and insolvency "live" from March 2010.

There is a detailed Practice Direction (PD5C) supplementing CPR rule 5.5 which sets out the requirements for and the procedural effect of using eFiling for the trial period. This is intended to be effective from 1 April 2010 and largely replicates the existing Practice Direction for the trial period.

The essence of the pilot is that once proceedings are started by the electronic issue of a Claim Form, an electronic court file is created and documents subsequent to the Claim Form can be filed and added electronically. Since there is no current obligation to participate, a defendant can opt out and continue to use paper. The Court Service will scan in the documents to preserve the integrity of the electronic case file. On request, existing cases can be "back scanned" into the system.

The obvious advantage is that documents can be filed 24/7: a boon for those who have problems with limitation periods. At a recent Commercial Bar Association Seminar we were told that, currently, if a Claim Form is properly completed an email confirming that it has been sealed for service and the copy sealed documents are being returned in about 6 minutes from receipt. However, since filing is only complete when the form has been processed it is not a good idea to leave your electronic submission too late!

Practical Considerations

The COMBAR seminar was attended by barristers, solicitors, Commercial Court judges as well as representatives of the Court Service and a number of points emerged:-

  1. The electronic forms have to be obtained from the Court Service website and do differ slightly from the standard forms. These standard forms must be used. Nothing else is permitted. The advice was to save a blank copy of the downloaded form and work on it.
  2. There is a 30mb limit and only pdf documents are accepted. Adobe Reader 9 is required (no great problem).
  3. A current problem is that there is no online payment system as yet. A separate email will be sent to the solicitor with payment instructions. There were discussions (way above my head) about security issues relating to the proposed online payment system. What was refreshing was the willingness of the Court Service to take onboard these and other comments with a view to ensuring that the system works from the word "go".
  4. When the solicitor receives the sealed Claim Form he will also receive instructions for obtaining other forms online. These are pre-populated with the claim number, names of parties, court etc. which is helpful.
  5. There are alphanumeric "document tickets" which act as keys for retrieving and filing subsequent documents so that, for example, in order for counsel to submit a skeleton argument online he will need the relevant "document ticket". Claimants and each defendant get different "document tickets".
  6. The electronic court file will be accessible to anyone with a "document ticket" at any time. Provision is made for documents that must be kept confidential or restricted to certain parties so that, for example, if an application is made without notice, any electronic filings will not be visible to the respondent.
  7. There is a standard form for filing subsequent documents with a drop down menu to select the class of document, but no write-in facility which is unfortunate since the current list is too short. For example, there is only one heading, "Skeleton Argument", which is appropriate to cover all the documents forming part of counsel's submissions so that the skeleton, chronology, list of authorities, bundle of authorities either all have to be filed together as one document or have to be filed separately, each under the heading "Skelton Argument", which the judges agreed was unhelpful from their point of view.
  8. There is, apparently, a means by which a bundle can be assembled from electronically filed documents and which could be used to obviate this problem, but how was not explained. This highlights what is particularly unsatisfactory: there is no "demo" available which would allow people to play with the various forms and learn how to use the system. A trial can be arranged, but only by using the system itself after pre-notifying the Court Service that it is not a genuine filing. It may be possible for individuals to be given a demonstration at the RCJ, but if this system is expected to be used by thousands of solicitors, proper access to training will be necessary.
  9. Currently, public access to the electronic court file (which is, of course, restricted to those documents which non-parties are permitted to see (CPR Part 5) is only obtainable by use of a "public kiosk" at the RCJ. If eFiling becomes part of court procedure it seems likely that online public access to unrestricted documents will follow. This will make it far easier for the press to search public court documents and increase the risk of litigation being publicised.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions