Chancery division email communications

Types of documents which may be sent by email

  • skeleton arguments,
  • chronologies,
  • reading lists,
  • lists of issues,
  • lists of authorities (but not the authorities themselves) and
  • lists of the persons involved in the facts of the case ("dramatis personae") sent in advance of a hearing.

The relevant e-mail addresses for these documents are:

For a hearing before a:
Address:

Judge
rcjchancery.judgeslisting@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Master
rcjchancery.mastersappointments@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Bankruptcy Registrar
 rcjcompanies.orders@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
  
Registrar of the Companies Court
rcjcompanies.orders@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
 

Central London Bankruptcy District Judge
RCJBankCLCCDJHearings@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

  • The agreed terms of an Order which is ready to be sealed following the conclusion of a hearing. The relevant e-mail addresses for these documents are:
For a hearing before a:
Address:

Judge
rcjchancery.ordersandaccounts@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Master
rcjchancery.mastersappointments@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Bankruptcy Registrar
rcjbankruptcy.registrarshearings@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Registrar of the Companies Court
rcjcompanies.orders@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Central London Bankruptcy District Judge
RCJBankCLCCDJHearings@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

The above provisions take precedence over the provisions of the Chancery Guide in at least two respects:

  • Notwithstanding paragraphs 7.26, 7.41 and 7.43 of the Chancery Guide (2002 edition), the e-mail addresses specified above should be used for sending the relevant documents by e-mail even if the name of the Judge, Master or Registrar is known (unless the Judge, Master or Registrar orders otherwise).
  • Paragraph 7.44 of the Chancery Guide (2002 edition) states that, where a skeleton argument is required, photocopies of any authorities to be relied upon should be attached to the skeleton argument. However, when lodging skeleton arguments by e-mail in accordance with this E-Mail Protocol, no authorities may be lodged with the skeleton argument (unless the Judge, Master or Registrar orders otherwise). The authorities must be lodged on paper in the traditional way, even if the skeleton argument itself is lodged by e-mail.

No other documents, aside from those specifically referred to in paragraph 4 above, can be accepted by e-mail at present (except by specific arrangement with the Judge, Master or Registrar concerned for an individual case). In particular, e-mail cannot be used to file statements of case, application notices, affidavits, witness statements, experts' reports, allocation questionnaires, listing questionnaires, pre-trial checklists or statements of costs. If a party sends by e-mail any type of document aside from one specifically referred to in paragraph 4 above, the document will be treated as not having been lodged.

This Email Protocol is not intended to limit the discretion of the Judge, Master or Registrar to use information technology to a greater or lesser extent in an appropriate case, as envisaged in Chapter 14 of the Chancery Guide (2002 edition).

Where a party sends a document by e-mail he should still comply with any rule or practice direction requiring the document to be served on any other person.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice at the Royal Courts of Justice does not currently accept documents filed electronically via the online forms service referred to in section 11 of Practice Direction 58.

Nothing in this Email Protocol:

  • Requires any person to accept service of a document by email.
  • Affects any arrangements for communicating with any District Registry or county court, whether or not on Chancery business.
  • Email is not a secure communications medium. Parties must not use email to send documents which are confidential or sensitive. This must be borne in mind particularly in cases to be heard in secret.

Form of general email and attachments

If the name of the Judge, Master or Registrar concerned is known, the body of the e-mail should state this name clearly.

Paragraph 4.1 of Practice Direction 58 is varied so as to read that the e-mail message "should be in plain text or HTML rather than rich text format", but the remainder of that paragraph continues to apply.

For the purpose of paragraph 4.5 of Practice Direction 58, the following formats for attachments are supported:

  • Microsoft Word format (Word 97 or Word 2000) (.doc files).
  • Adobe Acrobat format (also known as Portable Document Format) (.pdf files).
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf files).
  • 4. Plain text (.txt files).

For the purpose of paragraph 4.7 of Practice Direction 58, the total size of the email (including all of its attachments) must not exceed 8MB.

Receipt of emails by the Court

An acknowledgment of the receipt of an email will be sent. This is not an acknowledgment that the email has been received by its ultimate intended recipient, merely an acknowledgment that the email has been received by one of the central mailboxes listed in paragraph 4 above.

Skeleton argument pilot

From 29th October 2012 and until further notice, a pilot scheme will operate in relation to the lodging of skeletons for judges in the Chancery Division where those skeletons are to be used in forthcoming hearings. Comments on the operation of the scheme are welcomed; please provide them to doug.bell@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Subject to the exception below in relation to hearings in private, all skeletons of 25 pages and fewer should be filed by email to the appropriate address:

The following principles should be observed:

  1. These email boxes should be used for skeleton arguments only and not for any other documents. Any other documents are likely to be ignored. The only exceptions are:

    (a) In the case of the applications court mailbox, a short indication that a case is going to be ineffective in the event of that becoming apparent late on the previous day or early on the morning of the hearing.
    (b) A short reading list.
  2. Any skeleton arguments of greater length than 25 pages should be provided in hard copy.
  3. The digital copy should be in .doc format (preferred) or .docx format; but should not be in .pdf format.
  4. All emails should have the following in the subject matter line of the enclosing email:

    •  the name of the case (in short form) and case number
    • the name of the judge (if known)
    • the date of the hearing if in the applications court or the hearing window, as the case may be.

  5. In the applications court a fresh skeleton should be emailed in respect of any adjourned hearing even if it has not changed in form since the earlier hearing; and it should be clearly re-dated.
  6. If a supplemental or amended skeleton is lodged, the attention of the relevant judge’s clerk should be drawn to that lodgement (preferably by direct email) so that it is not overlooked.
  7. Any skeleton lodged in accordance with the above rules need not thereafter be provided in hard copy, unless the court otherwise directs.
  8. If the skeleton supports a hearing in private, and if the privacy considerations make it undesirable for the skeleton to be transmitted by email (which may not always be the case) it may be lodged in hard copy form with listing, or with the judge’s clerk (if known).
  9. This direction applies only to skeleton arguments filed in support of forthcoming hearings. It does not apply to skeleton arguments filed in support of appeals where a hearing may not necessarily take place, or in support of any other application where there is no forthcoming hearing. Those skeletons should be lodged in hard copy.
  10. The above email boxes will be cleared of all skeletons over 14 days old at any given time.


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