As of Monday 7 October 2019, the pilot began for voluntary electronic filing at the Senior Courts Costs Office. E-Filing in Court of Protection cases is compulsory from 20 January 2020.
Having spoken to the SCCO, they have confirmed that from Monday, bills of costs will be rejected if submitted in paper form. The SCCO will be adopting a strict system and will return files if the bill of costs and supporting papers are not electronically submitted.
To E-File, this requires the firm to register as a user for E-Filing. Each individual user then needs to create a profile to be an ‘E-Filer’ using an email address and password (https://efile.cefile-app.com/login). Thereafter, each individual case is created, detailing the parties/representatives, references, addresses and all other relevant information. If the Deputy wants their costs provider to help them with this process, they would need to be added as a party by the Deputy’s firm on an individual basis. In order to request an assessment, professional Deputies are required to send the bill of costs, the N258B and the authority to assess (the Order) through e-filing, in PDF format. This The SCCO, for the time being, still require the files of papers to be submitted by DX/post to undertake the assessment as electronic bundling is not available.
Once your case is submitted online, you will receive confirmation by email. This confirmation can be posted to the SCCO with your paper files. The SCCO will then marry up the bill of costs and the files at their offices. The bill of costs will be manually assessed and scanned onto the system, which you can access online and your files will be returned. Eventually, the SCCO would like electronic COP bills to be submitted which will allow them to undertake electronic recalculations, but this is not possible just yet.
It’s worth noting that payment can no longer be made by cheque to the SCCO – the firm must have a PBA or debit payment facility. This is much better for the Court and payments have so far been much more manageable.
The SCCO have experienced serious staffing issues in recent months but they are now fully staffed and clearing the backlog. In respect of Court of Protection assessments, they are currently in receipt of approximately 180 files for assessment per week, so it may take a little while longer to resume a reasonable turnaround of bills.
Information about existing FAQ’s following the E-Filing in other Courts can be found here: https://leedslawsociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/E-Filing-Frequently-Asked-Questions.pdf
The link to the government website regarding CE-Filing which includes step by step guides can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ce-file-system-information-and-support-advice
For more information, please contact Stephanie Kaye.