STOP PRESS: Rolls Building electronic working pilot scheme starting Monday 16 November 2015

STOP PRESS: Rolls Building electronic working pilot scheme starting Monday 16 November 2015
urgentThe Ministry of Justice has announced that a new, voluntary, electronic working pilot scheme will come into force today, Monday 16 November 2015.The pilot scheme will operate for one year and will apply to new and existing proceedings in the Chancery Division of the High Court, the Commercial Court, the Technology and Construction Court (TCC), the Mercantile Court and the Admiralty Court at the Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ), Rolls Building, London.


The Rolls Building eWorking scheme is set out in CPR Practice Direction 51O and covers procedures including issuing claims electronically (eIectronic issue), electronic filing (eFiling), electronic bundling (eBundling), payment of fees through Electronic Working (ePayment), the deemed date and time of filing and issuing an electronically submitted document, serving documents which have been electronically filed, claims transferred into and out of the Rolls Building eFiling scheme, inspecting documents on the electronic working case file (EWCF), etc.

The electronic working pilot scheme being introduced to Rolls Building proceedings on Monday 16 November 2015 is being implemented under the 82nd update to the Practice Directions of the CPR. The provisions for this new pilot scheme, which is due to operate for one year, are set out in CPR PD 51O.This new pilot scheme is, effectively, intended to replace CPR PD 51J, which was also an electronic filing pilot scheme but which applied only to claims started or proceeding in the TCC Rolls Building.

Key differences between Practice Direction 51J and Practice Direction 51O

Many of the provisions now set out in CPR PD 51O are similar to those previously set out in CPR PD 51J. However, there are a number of differences, including:

  • the deemed dates for filing and issuing are now more explicitly linked to the date on which any required fees are paid rather than to the date on which the court 'accepts' (or, previously, 'validates') the electronically submitted document
  • electronic filing (and, in particular, eBundling) provisions are extended so as to include situations where the court is to give costs management as well as case management and/or other directions
  • filing eBundles in the case of interim hearings is, seemingly, no longer a mandatory requirement
  • there is now a more pragmatic treatment of how parties should deal with electronic files exceeding the current limit of ten megabytes
  • most references to forms have been removed such that CPR PD 51O generally seems to apply only to 'documents' as opposed to 'forms and documents' (the generally preferred terminology under CPR PD 51J). Presumably, however, 'documents' is intended to incorporate 'forms' rather than that the new provisions are intended not to allow for the electronic submission of forms
  • the court's 'acceptance' (or previously 'validation') of electronically submitted documents seems to have changed in a number of respects, including:
    • the provisions seem to have been extended such that they now apply to all documents submitted electronically under the scheme and not just to electronically issued claim forms
    • the court will seemingly no longer notify parties of developments in relation to their electronic submissions by email but instead will communicate through the parties' online accounts
  • changes have been made to the way in which, following a transfer into or out of a Rolls Building court operating the pilot scheme, the case file may be 'converted' into a claim which can proceed under the eWorking scheme and the way in which the EWCF may be transferred to the receiving court respectively
  • changes have been made to the provisions relating to non-parties' inspection of the EWCF
  • the reference to CPR PD 5C (which deals with the electronic working scheme applicable to Rolls Building claims) has been removed from the provision granting this new pilot scheme precedence over any conflicting provisions set out in CPR PD 5C and CPR PD 5B. Note, however, it is our understanding that the scheme operating under CPR PD 5C effectively came to an end in April 2012 (LexisPSL Dispute Resolution subscribers can see Practice Note Electronic filing for further details)

Interaction between the Rolls Building eWorking pilot scheme and other provisions

The eWorking pilot scheme is intended to work within and be subject to all the statutory provisions and procedural rules and practice directions which apply to the specific proceedings unless excluded or amended by the pilot scheme itself. A list of some of those is set out in CPR PD 51O, para 1.2(2).

The pilot scheme states that practitioners will also need to give careful consideration to the relevant court guides.

Note: given the pilot scheme is only due to operate for one year, it is unlikely the court guides will be updated to reflect the scheme. As such, the possibility of inconsistencies between the guides and the pilot scheme should be borne in mind.

Interestingly, the only time the provisions set out in CPR PD 51O are explicitly stated as taking precedence over others with which they may be in conflict is in relation to CPR PD 5B, namely those that deal with the electronic communication and filing of documents.

Further, detailed, guidance

LexisPSL subscribers can find further details by following the links below. Click here for a free trial to access if you are not a subscriber.

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About the author:

Virginia specialises in general domestic and international commercial litigation, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution.

Virginia trained, qualified and practiced with Pinsent Masons before moving to Marriott Harrison where she continued in practice for a further seven years.

In practice, Virginia acted in a variety of general commercial disputes covering areas including  intellectual property, fraud, defamation, misrepresentation, breach of contract, debt recovery, breach of restrictive covenants and company and shareholders’ disputes.

Virginia is Head of Dispute Resolution at Lexis®PSL and, when not focused on the strategic development and operational requirements of the Dispute Resolution module, her content work focuses on case management and evidence in civil litigation. She also regularly contributes to the LexisNexis Dispute Resolution Blog.