E-filing for insolvency proceedings to become mandatory from 25 April 2017
A pilot scheme for the electronic filing of court papers (known as CE-File) is to be made mandatory in the Rolls Building of the High Court in London from 25 April 2017. Electronic filing will therefore become compulsory in the Bankruptcy & Companies court in the Rolls Building (but not in other District Registries).
At first blush, the introduction of e-filing has the potential to blur the distinction of when the court (or at least the High Court in London) can be considered to be open or closed. This distinction is important in particular for the holders of qualifying floating charges, who may under the current system appoint administrators when the court is closed. A corollary of e-filing could be that this out of hours privilege is extended to directors and shareholders. Also, because confirmation of the successful issue of the notice or application will follow sometime after e-filing (and payment of the applicable fee), insolvency practitioners wishing to effect pre-pack sales or otherwise take urgent action on appointment could be left in limbo. Insolvency practitioners (and other stakeholders) will need certainty as to their status pending receipt of such confirmation.
The procedure is to be set out in a new practice direction, but is not expected to be dissimilar to that which accompanied the pilot scheme. A link to the HM Courts & Tribunal Service webpage can be found here: http://www.ce-file.uk/. However, insolvency professionals will expect more detailed guidance, particularly on how e-filing will apply to the filing of notices of intention to appoint administrators and notices of appointment of administrators. Stakeholders are consulting with HMCTS on the issues and ambiguities created and further clarity is expected in due course.