HMCTS has published a Practice Note to provide clarification of which documents the Rolls Building courts will still accept as email attachments under Practice Direction 5B (Communication and Filing of Documents by e-mail).

This follows a revision, with effect from 3 October 2016, to the Practice Direction on the Electronic Working Scheme (PD 51O). The revised paragraph 3.4(2) of PD 51O provides that all electronic submissions should be made through the Electronic Working Pilot Scheme unless submissions by email pursuant to PD 5B are expressly requested by the trial judge or the trial judge’s clerk. In this context, “trial judge” includes any judge, master or registrar who is determining any matter at an oral hearing or on paper.

The Practice Note states that “submissions” in PD 51O.3.4(2) means all those documents which are required by the CPR or any PD to be filed on the court file. If the court directs that any document which is not required to be filed should, in fact, be filed, that document will become a “submission” for the purposes of PD 51O and must, therefore, be submitted through Electronic Working.

Documents that are not “submissions” within the meaning of PD 51O.3.4(2) may still be submitted by email under PD 5B. The Practice Note states that this will include:

  • Normal day-to-day communications with the court such as those sending in draft orders or dealing with case management issues.
  • Documents such as skeleton arguments and chronologies which are submitted to any court for the determination of any hearing or paper application, unless the court has directed that those documents be filed. Where any such document has been directed to be filed the parties must do so but may also (by way of exception to PD 51O) submit them by email to the listing officer or the judge’s clerk in question.

There are proposals to make Electronic Working mandatory for all law firms and direct access barristers by 1 April 2017 (according to papers from the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) meeting on 17 June 2016). Therefore, any clarification of the procedure under PD 51O is to be welcomed.

Source: Judiciary: Practice Note to PD 51O Paragraph 3.4(2) (14 October 2016)