The summaries include: E-filing to be compulsory in the Rolls Building in April 2017; Statements of (un)truth; What happens to a claim when the wrong issue fee has been paid?
Read the full articles below.
- E-filing to be compulsory in the Rolls Building in April 2017
From 25 April 2017 electronic filing will be compulsory in the Rolls Building, Royal Courts of Justice, London. The change will mean that all claims to be issued and other documents to be filed at court will have to be submitted through the paperless filing system 'CE - File'.
The change will be applicable to the following divisions of the High Court at the RCJ:
- Chancery Division
- Commercial Court
- Technology and Construction Court
- Mercantile Court and
- Admiralty Court
How will CE- File work in practice?
The new electronic process will still be subject to the Civil Procedural Rules ("CPR"). However, it is expected that a new practice direction or a revision of CPR PD 51O (which governed the Electronic Working Pilot Scheme) will be made prior to the change.
Court users can access the CE-File website here. Additionally, public access scanners will also be placed in the Rolls Building so that litigants in person, with limited access to the required IT equipment, will have access to the electronic system.
The online system should mean that CE- File can be used 24 hours a day, all year round and including weekends and bank holidays (excluding planned down time / unplanned down time).
To access the CE-File system, users will first need to register and create an account. Once an account is created users will be able to use the online platform to file documents, pay fees and issue claims. Before submitting documents users are required to pay the relevant fees. They can then proceed to upload documents onto the system in a word or pdf format. The maximum file size for uploads is 10MB.
Inevitably the impact and success of the electronic system will only be clear later this year. Feedback will from court users will play an important role in the continuing development of the electronic system.
With this in mind the Chancellor of the High Court, Mr Justice Blair, and Mr Justice Coulson are encouraging court users to contact the Rolls Building court staff to share their feedback in relation to the change. We understand that this email address can be used for feedback.
- Statements of (un)truth
In Aviva Insurance Ltd v Randive, the High Court granted permission to an insurer under CPR 81.12 (3) to pursue proceedings for contempt of court against Mr Randive (a personal injury claimant), for making false statements verified by a statement of truth, without an honest belief in their truth. Mr Randive had made a claim for damages, arising out of injuries he said had been sustained in a road traffic accident. At trial, his claim had been held to be fundamentally dishonest, leading the applicant to pursue contempt proceedings.
The judgment followed guidance set out in Kirk v Walton  EWCH 1780. In that case, Cox J had held that the discretion to grant permission should be exercised with great caution; that there must be a strong prima facie case against the respondent; that the public interest should be considered; that the merits of the case should not be strayed into; and proceedings must be proportionate and in line with the overriding objective.
Permission was granted on three of four of the grounds raised, as the claim established a strong prima facie case that the statements had been false and Mr Randive had known that. Bringing a false claim in the courts was extremely serious, the judge said. Aside from the dishonesty of bringing such a claim, it led to waste of court time and resources. Although the claim was very small in financial terms and the contempt proceedings would be expensive, it was proportionate for them to be brought 'in the interests of justice and the overriding objective'.
The decision is a reminder of the severe penalties that may be the result of false statements made in the course of proceedings.
- What happens to a claim when the wrong fee has been paid?
There is no rule of civil procedure or statutory provision which states that in the absence of abusive conduct issued proceedings are invalid or ineffective if the court issues them, but has accepted a fee which is (or becomes) less than the proper fee for the claim. Fees benefit the court as a source of revenue and are largely irrelevant to opposing parties. If an under-payment is identified before issue, the court may refuse to issue the proceedings until the proper fee is paid (in which case time continues to run for limitation purposes). Once proceedings are issued (stopping time running for the purpose of limitation), the court may direct payment of the missing fee at a later date.
The claimant in Dixon v Radley House Partnership, TCC, issued separate proceedings against several defendants. When they were subsequently served, the amounts claimed in damages were much greater than the estimated values in the claim forms, so the claimant had paid too little in court fees. The defendants applied to amend their defences to plead limitation.
The defendants argued that: (i) the claimant had failed to pay the appropriate court fees; (ii) the claimant had therefore failed to stop time running for the purposes of the Limitation Act 1980; and (iii) the claims were now statute barred. Neither defendant alleged that the claimant’s behaviour constituted abusive procedural conduct.
Previous cases where wrong court fee paid
Page v Hewetts Solicitors  EWCA Civ 805,  C.P. Rep. 40 set out the relevant test to establish whether a claim had been “brought” for the purposes of the Limitation Act - the claimant must establish that before the limitation period expired, it delivered the “appropriate fee” to the court office together with the claim form and the request for issue.
In Lewis v Ward Hadaway  EWHC 3503 (Ch), the fact that the “appropriate fee” had not been paid and there was abusive conduct by the claimant in the period before the issuing of proceedings by the court meant that the claim was not “brought” before expiry of the limitation period.
Bhatti and another v Asghar and another  EWHC 1049 (QB) stated that a claimant must do all in his power to ensure that the claim has been “brought”, including payment of the correct fee when presenting a claim form to court. Failure to do so may mean that proceedings are not “brought” for limitation purposes.
Here are links to our 2016 Resolve articles on those cases:
The decision in Dixon
The judge expanded on the meaning of “appropriate fee” in Page. He held that the “appropriate fee” is the fee required by the relevant fees order to be determined by reference to the amounts claimed in the claim form (or, if issued together, the amounts in both the particulars of claim and claim form). In the absence of abusive conduct, a later increase in the value of a claim is therefore irrelevant to the calculation of the fee payable on issue.
The judge did not comment on the court’s likely response to a claimant guilty of abusive conduct where there has been an under-payment of fees as abusive conduct was not alleged here.
The judge did not follow the “hard edged principle” in Bhatti. In the absence of abusive conduct, regardless of an intention to claim further sums, he/she held that the proceedings as issued were effective to stop time running for limitation purposes.
The defendants’ proposed amendments had no reasonable prospects of success. The claimant was held to have paid the appropriate fees on issue, despite the increase in value of the claim in the later particulars.