Email guidance

Emailing the civil and family courts

What you can file by email
What you cannot file by email
What the court can send via email
Which address to send emails
Form and content of emails
Where to send your email
What the court will do with your email
Points to remember

What you can file by email

You are responsible for the security of the information you are sending and therefore you must assess its sensitivity and whether email is a secure enough method of communication. 

If you are filing a document by email that contains a statement of truth you are reminded that you should retain the document containing the original signature. The version of the document which is filed by email must satisfy one of the following requirements:

(a) the name of the person who has signed the statement of truth is typed underneath the statement:

(b) the person who has signed the statement of truth has applied a facsimile of his signature to the statement in the document by mechanical means

Below is a list of requirements for documents filed by email in accordance with Civil Practice Direction 5B and both Family Practice Direction 5B and Family Practice Direction 6A.

Please consider this list carefully before continuing with your email correspondence with the court. Any document filed by email which is excluded by this list will treated as having not been filed.

  • A request to issue a specified or unspecified claim as these claims are excluded from application by email
  • When printed out, the email and any attachments, including any document embedded in another, together with sufficient copies for service on the required parties, the process or accompanying attachments do not exceed 50 pages (excluding Local Authorities, Cafcass and Cafcass CYMRU).
  • A page is one side, therefore 50 pages equals 25 pieces of paper printed on both sides 
  • The total size of an email, including any attachments, must not exceed 10 megabytes.
  • A party must not use more than one email to take any step in a claim which requires a document or documents to be filed.

What about applications requiring a fee?

In both Civil and Family cases court processes that carry a fee can be received by email and processed by court staff , if the above exclusions do not apply and the following conditions are met -

  • It is an application by a local authority; and/or
  • The party issuing the process quotes a Fee Account number; or
  • The party wishes to pay by credit/debit card.

You may also correspond with the court by email, making general enquiries about the progress of a case, or providing information to the court.

If you choose to send a document to the court via email it must not be sent again via fax or post.

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What the court can send via e-mail

The courts will only use email for correspondence, including requests for availability dates for hearings, issues concerning reports, general enquiries on specific proceedings, and the service of court documents, where a court user explicitly requests this.

Which address to send e-mails

Email addresses for courts are displayed on Courtfinder.

If your case is being handled at an HM Courts & Tribunals Service Business Centre the relevant email contacts will be communicated to you on issue of proceedings at the centre and should be used whilst proceedings remain with the Business Centre. 

Do not use personal email addresses for court staff or judiciary, including legal advisers unless the judge or legal adviser has directed or a local protocol is in place. Please ensure the business email address of the hearing centre concerned is also copied into the correspondence in any event. 

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Form and content of emails

When you email the court in relation to existing proceedings the subject line of your mail must contain (in the following order): -

(a) the case number, if one exists;

(b) the parties' names (abbreviated if necessary);

(c) if applicable, the date and time of any hearing to which the e-mail relates; and

Your message should also contain the name, telephone number and email address of the sender. If you email us we will normally send any reply to you by email. However if you wish HMCTS to serve you by email you must explicitly request this.

Correspondence and documents may be sent as either text or attachments. Where there is a practice form, it must be sent in that form by attachment.

Attachments must be in one of the following formats and the complete email (including any attachment(s)) must not exceed 10Mb

Document file types

  • Rich Text Format files (.rtf)
  • Plain/Formatted Text files (.txt)
  • Hypertext documents files (.htm)
  • Microsoft Word viewer/reader files (.doc) minimum Word '97 format
  • Adobe Acrobat files (.pdf) minimum viewer version 4

Spreadsheet file types

  • Hypertext document files (.htm)
  • Delimited files (.csv)

Presentation file types

  • Hypertext document files (.htm)

General and compressed file types

  • Zipped (Compressed) files (.zip, .gz, .tgz, .tar)

Graphics file types

  • Joint Photographic Experts Group (ISO 10918) files (.jpg)

Vector graphics file types

  • Scalable Vector Graphics files (.svg)

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What the court will do with your email

The court will check your email and either respond to your enquiry or, where further action is required, will confirm in due course.

The date of filing will normally be the date of receipt unless the time of receipt is recorded as after 16.00 in which case the date of filing will be the next day the court office is open.

If your email does not comply with the requirements of the Practice Direction your documents will be treated as having not been filed and in due course you will be sent a reply stating that it has been rejected and the reasons why.

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Points to remember

  • This guide does not replace the Civil Practice Direction 5B, Civil Practice Direction 5B or Family Practice Direction 6A.
  • When you file documents by email you must still comply with any rule or Practice Direction requiring the document to be served on any other person.
  • There is nothing in the in the Civil or Family Rules or Practice Directions that requires any person to accept service of a document by email.
  • Where a time limit applies it is the parties responsibility to ensure that the document is filed in time.

Warning

  • Email is not a secure medium.  Any message or reply to your message could be intercepted and read by someone else.  Please bear this in mind when deciding whether to send an email
  • If you require any assistance or have an enquiry regarding the email service please contact the appropriate court or Business Centre.

CJS Secure Email Service (CJSM)

If you are a solicitor and have any doubts about the sensitivity of the contents that you intend to email then you should consider signing up to CJS Secure Email (CJSM). This is a service currently provided by MOJ ICT. 

CJSM is currently free for civil and family solicitors to sign up to and use, and allows users to securely send and receive information up to and including data that attracts a security marking of Official Sensitive. It is not available to the general public. 

Emails transmitted via the gsi network and other equivalent secure Government networks, can send and receive from CJSM accounts. 

More information about signing up to this service is available at www.cjsm.justice.gov.uk

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