Another Step Along the Digital Pathway for Costs

Posted by Michelle Barron on 17th February, 2020 in Opinion and categorised in .

The case management system, “CE File” has been in use by the Chancery Division since October 2014 and was gradually rolled out until more recently when the pilot was extended to all of the jurisdictions of the Rolls Building.

The system is intended for professional court users and where it is in operation, electronic filing using the system is mandatory, with payment of court fees to be made online.

The use of CE File became mandatory in the Senior Court Costs Office on 20 January 2020 and must be used to start and/or continue any relevant claims, detailed assessment proceedings or applications for Senior Court Office matters.

The direction bringing this into effect can be found at CPR, Practice Direction 51O. The Senior Costs Judge has also issued a Practice Note concerning electronic filing which contains more detailed guidance.

The venue for the detailed assessment of all matters listed in CPR, Practice Direction 47.4 is the Senior Court Costs Office. Therefore not only are a wide range of matters in the High Court and Court of Protection caught by these new requirements, but also costs which have been incurred in a wide range of courts in the greater London area.

Things you should note

  • You will be given a separate reference number by the SCCO which should be used when filing documents electronically
  • Users must register on an individual basis
  • Payment can no longer be made by cheque. Instead, payment of Court fees will need to be via your PBA account or using a card
  • There are still a wide range of documents that have to be submitted in hard copy despite the application being made electronically. This applies in particular to filing supporting papers for detailed/provisional assessment
  • Any papers sent to the SCCO will be returned directing you to use the CE File system.

Our experience so far

  • Registration is quick and easy and access is gained to the system within minutes of registration
  • Using the system is very easy and those familiar with CCMS, will already be accustomed to the system of uploading documents, since the system is quite similar
  • We seem to have received responses more quickly than when dealing with matters on paper
  • We are yet to establish if a Burcher Jennings employee can use the PBA account of their client to pay a court fee. We have received conflicting advice on this issue and have avoided this problem by using the card details of clients to make payment

What we will do differently

  • To allow you to upload electronic documents we will now provide the necessary documents as PDFs once we have completed the relevant task
  • We may ask you to provide your card details or PBA account details to allow payment of court fees. We will not incur the Court fee on your behalf.
  • We can assist with lodging your papers using this method but there will be a charge for this service, either as part of our negotiation charges, or as part of our charges for processing claims for legal aid costs

It is now some 10 years since Jackson LJ published his Civil Litigation Costs Review Final Report which contained, amongst many other recommendations, a specific recommendation for electronic filing and payment of fees. It may be another 10 years before this is achieved across all courts in the jurisdiction but the latest changes are another step along the pathway toward a fully digital court

This article was written by Michelle Barron who is a Costs Lawyer and Head of Operations based at the Carlisle office.