Electronic Submission of Pleadings before the Lower Courts
By: Atty. Lew Earvin H. Manarin on November 16,2023
In line with the Supreme Court’s drive to decongest the dockets of lower courts and to promote efficiency in an increasingly digitalized legal system, it issued the “Guidelines on Submission of Electronic Copies of Pleadings and other Court Submissions being filed before the Lower Courts pursuant to the Efficient Use of Paper Rule” (“Guidelines”; A.M. No. 11-9-4-SC).
The Efficient Use of Paper Rule intended to reduce the excessive use of costly paper within the judicial system.
The Guidelines align with the “Amendments to the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure” (A.M. 19-10-20-SC) which allowed the filing and service of pleadings via electronic mail. The Guidelines represent the Supreme Court’s latest innovation, following the issuance of its “Revised Guidelines on Submission of Electronic Copies of Supreme Court-bound Papers pursuant to the Efficient Use of Paper Rule.” Currently, complying with the Guidelines involves the transmittal through electronic mail of electronic copies of all Supreme Court-bound papers and their annexes within twenty-four (24) hours from the filing of the hard copies.
The Guidelines require the electronic transmittal of copies in Portable Document Format (“PDF”) of pleadings and other court submissions, including their additional accompanying documents, before all lower courts.
Pursuant to the Guidelines, the PDF copies must be transmitted to the official e-mail address of the court where the case is pending. In instances when the primary manner of filing is through personal filing, registered mail, or accredited courier, the PDF copies must be transmitted within twenty-four (24) hours from the filing of the paper copy. In such instances, the submission will be deemed to have been filed on the date and time of filing of the paper copy.
Meanwhile, electronic filing of pleadings and other submissions shall be deemed to have been filed at the date and time of the electronic transmittal. However, express permission of the court must be sought for the primary filing through electronic transmittal of the following:
(i) initiatory pleadings and initial responsive pleadings, such as an answer to a complaint or a comment to a petition;
(ii) annexes, appendices, exhibits, or other accompanying documents to pleadings or other court submissions not readily amenable to digitization to PDF; and
(iii) sealed and confidential documents or records.
When the court does not permit filing electronically, paper copies shall be required, and the date of filing shall be the date when the paper copy was filed in person, sent by registered mail, or sent by accredited courier.
Likewise, the proof of filing will depend on the primary manner of filing. For pleadings and other submissions filed personally, the PDF copy should reflect the written or stamped acknowledgment by the clerk of court. For those filed by registered mailed or accredited courier, the PDF copy should state the proof of mailing as provided under the Rules on Civil Procedure, as amended and the PDF copy of the proof of payment of fees, when applicable. Lastly, the PDF copy of electronically filed submissions should include an affidavit of electronic filing of electronic copies.
The Guidelines also provide for the prescribed file format, transmittal e-mail format and nomenclature of the file attachments.
In addition to other information required to be included in the signature and address of the party or counsel signing the pleading or other court submission, the signing counsel or party must indicate a valid e-mail address, which shall serve as their e-mail address of record. All filings by electronic transmittal must be made with any of the e-mail addresses of record. If an electronic transmittal is made with an e-mail address not of record, the entire transmittal shall be deemed as not filed.
It should also be noted that if primary manner of filing is through personal filing, registered mail or accredited courier, the filer shall execute a verified declaration that the pleading or court submission and its accompanying documents, if any, submitted electronically are complete and true copies of the paper copies filed before the court. Any material discrepancy may result in an appropriate sanction/disciplinary action on the party responsible for the filing.
April 5, 2024 is a date to remember and to calendar. Effective April 5, 2024, electronic transmittal as outlined in the Guidelines, becomes the primary method for filing pleadings, motions, and other court submissions in applicable cases.
#ElectronicFiling #EfficientUseofPaperRule #GuidelinesonElectronicTransmittal #ElectronicFilingofPleadings #Efiling
Lew Earvin H. Manarin is a CPA-Lawyer and an associate of Mata-Perez, Tamayo & Francisco (MTF Counsel). This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. If you have any question or comment regarding this article, you may email the author at email@example.com or visit MTF website at www.mtfcounsel.com.