8th Jul 2021

18 St John Street Barrister, Serious Injury specialist Ruth Costello, writes about the expansion of e-filing in the QB division…


First used in the Technology and Construction Court in 2014, the Electronic Working Pilot Scheme has slowly filtered through HMCTS. After becoming mandatory in January 2019 in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in London, as of 19th July 2021 the scheme will be used for all claims and appeals in the QB Division in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle meaning all professional court users will be required to use electronic filing, known as CE-File. Not only will all claims be issued and nearly all documents filed using the system, parties will also be able to use it to pay fees and review and track claims.

The Electronic Working Pilot Scheme is governed by CPR PD51O.  Some key points for the use of CE-File include –

A claim form will be issued on the date and time that the issue fee is paid. The same is also true for the filing of a document; where payment of a fee is due, the deemed date and time of filing will be when payment is made (PD51O 5.4);

A party submitting a claim will receive two notifications; one to indicate that it has been submitted, another to indicate that it has been accepted and that a sealed copy is available on the file for service (sealed copies will not be posted to parties) (PD51O 5.3(1) and PD51O 5.4(4));

Rules for service are still contained within CPR 6;

Unless required otherwise, only one copy of each document ought to be filed (PD51O 5.1(a));

Original documents filed electronically, for example original signed documents and exhibits, must be preserved and made available for inspection by the court or another party if required (PD51O 4);

All draft orders should be in Word format and all other documents should be in PDF (PD51O 1(b));

Documents are to be filed separately, e.g. a Claim Form must be split from the Particulars of Claim (PD51O 5.1(d));

Documents should not be encrypted or password protected;

If a document exceeds 50 megabytes, it is to be split before filing is attempted (PD51O 5.1(c));

Cover letters or other supporting documents are to be split and filed separately from the document to which they relate;

Hard copy bundles will still be required for trials ((PD51O 1).

Of course, these are just some of the provisions applicable to the use of CE-File. To help ensure a smooth transition, HMCTS is running a number of online tutorials for professional users throughout July. There will no doubt be issues along the way but it is hoped that expanding electronic working will help support flexible working and save time and costs.

HMCT’s are hosting a series of webinars to introduce users to the new system, for more details of the events on 13 and 15 July please see the link here.


Ruth Costello


18 St John Street Chambers

To access further details about the Electronic Filing online event, click here.



For more information about Ruth Costello or our Personal Injury, Clinical Negligence and Costs Department please contact Chambers Director James Parks, or, Senior Clerk Katie Brown on 0161 278 1800 or by email PI@18sjs.com