With amendments to the Rules of Court and the Code of Civil Procedure (effective January 1, 2011), the California legislature and the Judicial Council have indicated an emphasis on electronic filing and service. The rules were reorganized to improve the presentation, and CCP §1013 was amended to specifically refer to electronic service. If you haven’t already, maybe now is the time to familiarize yourself with some of the highlights of these statutes and rules.
As an overarching point, a party may electronically serve a document on another party that consents to electronic service in an action whenever service of the document by mail, express mail, overnight delivery, or fax transmission is permitted. CCP §1010.6(a)(2); Cal Rules of Ct 2.251(a)(1). This means that any document, e.g., a paper, a pleading, a declaration, an exhibit, may be electronically filed in an action or proceeding unless expressly prohibited. Cal Rules of Ct 2.252(a). When a proceeding requires the filing of an original document, you can file an electronic copy of the original if you make sure to file the original document with the court within 10 calendar days. Cal Rules of Ct 2.252(b).
Note that this point relates to service on a party; a document may not be served electronically on a nonparty unless the nonparty consents to electronic service or electronic service is otherwise provided for by law or court order. Cal Rules of Ct 2.251(c)(2).
There are two authorized methods of electronic service, the second of which is new effective January 1, 2011 (CCP §1010.6(a); see Cal Rules of Ct 2.250):
- Electronic transmission, in which a document is sent electronically to the person served; and
- Electronic notification, in which the recipient is given electronic notice that a document has been served and is provided a hyperlink at which the document can be viewed and downloaded.
Rule 2.251(e) discusses what you need to do to secure the reliability and duration of hyperlinks.
When a document is served electronically, any period of notice or any time for exercising any right or performing any duty to do an act or make a response is extended by 2 court days, unless a statute or rule provides otherwise. CCP §1010.6(a)(4); Cal Rules of Ct 2.251(f)(2). However, the time for filing a notice of intention to move for a new trial or to vacate judgment or a notice of appeal is not extended. CCP §1010.6(a)(4); Cal Rules of Ct 2.251(f)(3).
Proof of electronic service may be made by any of the methods specified in CCP §1013a with required adaptations for electronic service such as, e.g., providing the electronic service address of the person served in addition to that person’s residence or business address. Cal Rules of Ct 2.251(g). The Judicial Council has adopted optional forms for proof of electronic service.
Keep in mind that a document to be electronically filed must be in a software format adopted by the court, unless it cannot be created in that format. Cal Rules of Ct 2.256(b). Signatures on electronically filed documents are governed by CCP §1010.6(b)(2)(B) and Cal Rules of Ct 2.257(a), (c).
In addition to these statutes and rules, always check for trial courts’ local rules on electronic filing, which are likely to become more and more common.
These statutes and rules will be discussed at the upcoming programs Civil Litigation Practice: 29th Annual Recent Developments (live in several California locations in January and available On Demand on February 17th) and Drafting Pleadings, Jurisdiction, Venue & Service of Process (live in Los Angeles on February 28th and San Francisco on March 4th, and available On Demand on March 21st). They will also be included in the upcoming update of California Civil Procedure Before Trial.
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