PRACTICE DIRECTION 36O - PILOT SCHEME: PROCEDURE FOR BULK SCANNING OF CERTAIN DOCUMENTS
This Practice Direction supplements rule 36.2 FPR (Transitional arrangements and pilot schemes).
Scope and interpretation
1.1 This Practice Direction is made under rule 36.2 FPR and sets up a Pilot Scheme to allow for the bulk scanning by a specified third-party company of certain documents which are required to be filed with or otherwise sent to the court.
1.2 This Practice Direction comes into force on 1st July 2019.
1.3 This Pilot Scheme applies where all of the following conditions are met-
(a) a document is to be filed with or otherwise sent to the family court;
(b) Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service indicates (whether via information given online, in correspondence or otherwise) that the document must be filed with or sent to the court by sending it to a specified third-party company; and
(c) the document is filed or sent in the period commencing on 1st July 2019 and ending on 30 September 2021.
1.4 Nothing in this Practice Direction precludes a document being sent to the court by email where that would be in accordance with rule 5.5 FPR and Practice Direction 5B.
1.5 In this Practice Direction-
“document” means anything in which information of any description is recorded and includes (but is not limited to) an application, a notice, a statement or a letter; and
“specified third-party company” means-
(a) Exela Technologies Limited.
Purpose of this Pilot Scheme
2.1 The purpose of this Pilot Scheme is to assess new practices and procedures to allow for certain documents to be filed with or otherwise sent to the court by being sent by post to a specified third-party company, and for such a company to scan those documents and send them electronically to a secure cloud-based system which is accessible by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. This is with the aim of reducing the administrative burden on court staff and improving efficiency.
Modification or disapplication of the FPR and Practice Directions, and application of this Practice Direction, during the operation of the Pilot Scheme
3.1 During the operation of the Pilot Scheme, where the Pilot Scheme applies, the FPR and the Practice Directions supporting the FPR will apply-
(a) subject to the provisions of this Practice Direction; and
(b) as modified by paragraphs 7.1 and 8.1.
Sending documents to a specified-third party company
4.1 Where this Pilot Scheme applies, subject to paragraph 4.5, any document to be filed with, or otherwise sent to, the court must be sent by post to the address for a specified third-party company to which Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has indicated that the document should be sent.
(The indication from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service of the address to which a document should be sent may be via information provided online, in correspondence, or otherwise.)
4.2 Where paragraph 4.1 applies and a document is sent to a specified third-party company, the date that document was delivered to the specified third-party company is to be treated as the date that the document was filed with, lodged with, or otherwise received by, the court.
4.3 If a person fails to send a document to a specified third-party company in accordance with paragraph 4.1 and instead sends a document to the court (other than by way of email in accordance with rule 5.5 FPR and Practice Direction 5B), the court may send the document to the specified third-party company.
4.3A The court may also send a document to the specified third-party company where the court considers it appropriate to do so.
4.4 Where paragraph 4.3 or 4.3A applies and the court sends a document to the specified third-party company, paragraph 4.2 does not apply.
4.5 Nothing in this Practice Direction precludes a document being sent to the court by email, where that is permitted under rule 5.5 FPR and Practice Direction 5B.
Action to be taken by a specified third-party company
5.1 Paragraph 5.2 applies where-
(a) this Pilot Scheme applies; and
(b) documents are sent to a specified third-party company in accordance with paragraph 4.1 or 4.3.
5.2 The specified third-party company must-
(a) record the date of receipt of the document;
(b) scan the document;
(c) send the scanned document, with any necessary attached information, electronically to a secure cloud-based storage system which is accessible by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service.
5.3 After taking the steps outlined in paragraph 5.2, any original document other than a court form or an item of correspondence addressed to the court must be returned to the sender by the specified third-party company.
5.4 After 30 days have passed from the date of receipt, any original document that is a court form or item of correspondence addressed to the court must be destroyed by the specified third-party company.
Documents scanned by a specified third-party company
6.1 A scan of a document from a specified third-party company shall be treated by the court as a true copy of the original document.
Modification of rule 2.3(1) of the FPR
7.1 In cases to which this Pilot Scheme applies, in rule 2.3(1) of the FPR, the definition of “filing” is modified by inserting after “office”-
“(or, where the Pilot Scheme referred to in Practice Direction 36O applies, to the address to which HMCTS indicates that a document should be sent)”.
Modification of Practice Direction 27A – Family Proceedings: Court Bundles (Universal Practice to be applied in the High Court and Family Court)
8.1 In cases to which this Pilot Scheme applies, Practice Direction 27A is modified as follows-
(a) in paragraph 7.1, for “The bundle” substitute “Subject to paragraph 7.2A, the bundle”;
(b) in paragraph 7.2(b), for “Unless” substitute “Subject to paragraph 7.2A, unless”;
(c) after paragraph 7.2, insert-
“7.2A Where the Pilot Scheme referred to in Practice Direction 36O applies, if Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has indicated to a litigant in person that the bundle should be sent to an address for a specified third-party company, the bundle shall be lodged with the court by sending it to that address.”; and
(d) after paragraph 7.3 insert-
“7.3AAny bundle lodged in accordance with paragraph 7.2 shall show the date and place of the hearing on the bundle.