PRACTICE DIRECTION 5B – COMMUNICATION AND FILING OF DOCUMENTS BY E-MAIL

PRACTICE DIRECTION 5B – COMMUNICATION AND FILING OF DOCUMENTS BY E-MAIL

This Practice Direction supplements FPR Part 5, rule 5.5

Title
Number
Chapter 1: Scope and interpretation
Para. 1.1
Chapter 2: Specified organisations
Para. 2.1
Chapter 3: Persons other than specified organisations
Para. 3.1
Chapter 4: Technical specifications
Para. 4.1
Chapter 5: Further provisions
Para. 5.1
Chapter 6: Statements of truth
Para. 6.1
 

Chapter 1: Scope and interpretation

1.1

This practice direction provides for communication and filing of documents with the court by e-mail.

1.2

Chapter 2 applies to specified organisations.

1.3

Chapter 3 applies to persons other than specified organisations.

1.4

Chapters 4, 5 and 6 apply to all persons, including specified organisations.

1.5

In this practice direction—

(a) ‘specified document’ is a document that is—

(i) related to any family proceedings other than adoption proceedings; and

(ii) listed in the e-mail guidance on Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service website as a document that may be sent by e-mail to a specified e-mail address;

(The e-mail guidance can be found at:
https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/email-guidance#canfile )

(b) ‘specified e-mail address’ is the e-mail address for a court office which has been listed on the Courts and Tribunals Finder website at: https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/courts/

(c) ‘specified organisation’ is any of—

(i) a local authority;

(ii) Cafcass;

(iii) CAFCASS Cymru; and

(d) ‘urgent application’ means an application in which—

(i) there is risk to the life, liberty or physical safety of a person who is the subject of the application or his or her family or his or her home;

(ii) any delay in issuing the application could cause—

(aa) a risk of harm to a child;

(bb) a risk of unlawful removal of a child from the United Kingdom, or a risk of unlawful retention of a child who is currently outside England and Wales;

(cc) a significant risk of a miscarriage of justice;

(dd) unreasonable hardship to the applicant; or

(ee) irretrievable problems in dealing with the dispute (including the irretrievable loss of significant evidence).
    
1.6

References in this practice direction to e-mailing a court mean e-mailing a court office at its specified e-mail address.

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Chapter 2: Specified organisations

2.1

Subject to this Chapter, a specified organisation may e-mail a court at the court’s specified e-mail address and may attach or include one or more specified documents to or in that e-mail.

2.2

If a fee is payable in order for a document to be filed with or accepted by the court, then subject to paragraph 2.3, the specified organisation must, when e-mailing the court—

(a) provide a Fee Account number, credit card number or debit card number which the person e-mailing the court has the authority to charge; and

(b) authorise the court to charge the applicable fee to that Account or card number.

2.3

When a specified organisation is e-mailing an urgent application to the court, the specified organisation may undertake to take the steps specified at paragraph 2.2(a) and (b) on the next business day.

(A list of applicable fees can be found here: http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/fees)

(Further information about using the Fee Account service can be found at:
https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/fees/payment-by-account )

2.4

A court officer must refuse any application or other document, including any attachment, sent to the court by e-mail if—

(a) it does not comply with this Chapter; or

(b) a fee is payable and—

(i) the court has not been able to charge the fee to the Account or card number provided by the sender; or

(ii) in the case of an urgent application, the sender has not provided the undertaking specified in paragraph 2.3.

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Chapter 3: Persons other than specified organisations

3.1

Subject to paragraphs 3.2 - 3.4, a person other than a specified organisation may e-mail the court or attach a specified document to an e-mail to the court.

3.2

If a fee is payable in order for an e-mailed document to be filed with or accepted by the court, the person must, when e-mailing the court—

(a) provide a Fee Account number, credit card number or debit card number which the person has authority to charge for the applicable fee; and

(b) authorise the court to charge the applicable fee to that Account or card number.

(A list of applicable fees can be found here:
http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/fees)

3.3

A person may e-mail the court or attach one or more specified documents to an e-mail to the court provided that—

(a) when printed out on both sides of A4 paper, the following documents together do not exceed 25 sheets of paper in total—

(i) the e-mail;

(ii) the attachments, including any document or e-mail embedded in any attachment; and

(iii) copies of documents in (i) and (ii) that the court would be required to serve, if service by the court is requested or required under the rules;

(b) if the e-mail, including any attachments, is being sent to take a step in proceedings, that step is being taken by only that e-mail and attachments, and no other e-mail or hard copy is being sent as part of that step; and

(c) the total size of the e-mail, including any attachments, does not exceed 10.0 megabytes.

3.4

A court officer must refuse any application or other document, including any attachment, sent to the court by e-mail if—

(a) it does not comply with this Chapter; or

(b) a fee is payable and the court has not been able to charge the fee to the Account or card number provided by the sender.

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Chapter 4: Technical specifications

4.1

An e-mail sent to the court must—

(a) contain the name of the sender and an address for contact, which can be an e-mail address; and

(b) be in plain text or rich text format rather than HTML.

(Rule 29.1 specifies the information that a party is not required to reveal, and makes provision for notice by a party to the court where a party does not wish for particulars to be revealed by the court to another person.)

4.2

Subject to this practice direction, correspondence and documents may be sent as either text in the body of an e-mail, or as one or more attachments.

4.3

Completed forms that are prescribed by a rule or practice direction must be sent as attachments.

4.4

Where a prescribed form requires that one or more documents must be attached to that form, that document or documents must be attached to the e-mail to which the form is attached.

Court forms may be downloaded from HMCTS website at: http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/FormFinder.do

4.5

Attachments must be sent in a format supported by the software used by the court to which it is sent.

The format or formats which may be used in sending attachments to a particular specified court are listed in the e-mail guidance on Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals website. The e-mail guidance can be found at: https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/email-guidance#canfile

4.6

Where an e-mail relates to existing proceedings, the person sending the e-mail must include the following information in the subject line of the e-mail, to the extent that space allows—

(a) the case number, if one exists;

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

(c) the name of the judge or other person before whom the case has been listed, if known by the person sending the e-mail; and

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

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Chapter 5: Further provisions

5.1

Where a person sends an e-mail to the court, that person must not send a hard copy of that e-mail or any attachment to the court.

5.2

Where an application is received by the court by e-mail—

(a) in accordance with chapter 2 or chapter 3 of this practice direction, whichever is applicable; and

(b) the e-mail is recorded by HMCTS e-mail software as received at or after 4:31pm and before or at 11:59pm;
the date of issue of the application will not be before the next day the court office is open.

5.3

Where an e-mail, including any attachment, is received by the court—

(a) in accordance with chapter 2 or chapter 3 of this practice direction, whichever is applicable; and

(b) the e-mail is recorded by HMCTS e-mail software as received at or after 4:31pm and before or at 11:59pm, the date of receipt is the next day the court office is open.

5.4

Where a time limit applies to the receipt or filing of a document or application, and the document or application is e-mailed to the court, it remains the responsibility of the person subject to that time
limit to ensure that the document or application is sent within applicable time limits taking into account the operation of the practice direction.

5.5

A court officer may reply by e-mail to an e-mail received at a specified e-mail address, where the e-mail or any attachment received relates to proceedings which are not adoption proceedings.

5.6

If a document sent by e-mail requires urgent attention, the sender should contact the court by telephone.

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Chapter 6: Statements of truth

6.1

Where a person wishes to file a specified document containing a statement of truth by e-mail, that person should retain the document containing the original signature and file with the court a version of the
document satisfying one of the following requirements—

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

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

6.2

The court may require a person to produce the document containing the original signature.

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