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E-filing is here – perhaps just the start!

As you may have heard, or perhaps seen with your recently returned COP assessments, e-filing has been introduced at the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO). This will include the lodging of Court of Protection bills of costs for provisional assessment.

The voluntary pilot was introduced on 7 October 2019, but will be mandatory from January 2020. Our advice is to trial a few files sooner rather than later, so any issues can be ironed out prior to its formal introduction.

The process, as far as we understand it, can be outlined as follows:-

Practitioners are able to register their “account” with the SCCO (see link below).  We understand firms can set up teams so that assessed bills can be emailed back to the team following assessment.

  1. It is necessary to submit the bill bundle electronically; i.e. the request for assessment, bill of costs, copy of the order, OPG105 and so forth.
  2. Payment can be made via your firm’s “PBA” account for the assessment fee of £85.00. There is also an option to pay by card.
  3. Once the documents have been submitted, they will be reviewed by court staff and the submission will then be “approved”. You will be notified on this.
  4. When the bundle has been “approved” you will be provided with a court reference number.  It is at this point you will be required to lodge the files with the court, quoting the reference number provided by the court to enable them to place the files with the assessment.
  5. The court will then assess the bills in the usual way.  Our understanding is the assessed bill will be email back via the account, but it may be sent hard copy and returned with your files.
  6. Your files will also be returned as is the process now.

 

You can set up an account using this link:-

https://efile.cefile-app.com/login

There is an option “Register as an e-filer” which takes you into the registration process.

 

Here is a link for further guidance and information:-

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ce-file-system-information-and-support-advice

 

Comment

 

This is certainly a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, practitioners remain unable to send their files in electronic form (it is only the assessment documents and bill that may be filed electronically) but the SCCO is already scanning assessed bills on to their system so that in the event assessed bills go missing, they do not have to be re-assessed by the court (as happened previously as no copies were kept by the court).

 

We sincerely hope that the court will move to a platform that will enable it to accept files in electronic format, whether that be by USB stick or DVD. It will certainly cut down on paper use and postal costs and would be the next logical step given the move to a more paper free office environment.

We hope the tips provided above will provide useful into your initial foray into e-filing. As always we are here to help.

Paul Cruickshanks
Head of Court of Protection

A&M Bacon Ltd

DDI: 01733 359030 | Tel: 01733 350880 | Fax: 01733 350841
Email: Paul.Cruickshanks@aandmbacon.co.uk | Web: https://www.aandmbacon.co.uk/


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