Did you know that the Illinois Supreme Court amended Rule 11 stating that “documents shall be served electronically”? What does this mean for you?
In the past, you could serve documents in six different ways. However, Rule 11 now requires you to serve document electronically unless otherwise specified by rule or order of court.
How do you serve documents electronically?
Service of documents couldn’t be easier now that e-filing is mandatory in Illinois. As you may already know, you’re required to electronically file your cases using a certified EFSP (electronic filing service provider) such as InfoTrack. When you file a document with the court using InfoTrack, you have the option to “File & E-Serve”, which will file your document with the court and send a court stamped copy to the parties you wish to serve. It’s that simple.
Because Rule 11(b) provides that all attorneys must provide an email address on their appearance and all pleadings, their emails addresses will be available when you e-file. There may be instances where the clerk’s office hasn’t updated or the attorneys did not provide their email address, but you can still serve electronically by email. In most cases, you already know the opposing counsel’s email, so you can add their email address when filing and have that recipient receive a copy of the filing when it is accepted by the court.
What to do if an e-mail is undeliverable
If you send an email to opposing counsel and it gets returned as undeliverable, what do you do? Rule 11(e) provides you guidance. Rule 11(e) states that you “shall make a good-faith effort to alert the intended recipient of a potential transmission problem and take reasonable steps to ensure actual service of the document.”
Verify that you typed their email address correctly. It can be a simple mistake in the email address that caused it to be undeliverable. Also, check if the appearance or pleadings filed by the opposing party included a secondary or tertiary email address. Under Rule 131(d), an attorney must include a primary email address and may designate no more than two secondary email addresses. Also, pick up the phone and give them a call. Find out if you have the right address. Maybe they mistyped their email address on their pleading and needs to correct it.
What about pro ses?
Rules on service is a little different for pro se or self-represented litigants. Under Rule 11(b), a pro se litigant “may” include their email address on their appearance and pleadings filed in court. Rule 11(c) also states “If a self-represented party so opts…service of document may be made” by alternative methods, such as personal service, delivery to the self-represented party’s residence, US mail, and third-party commercial carrier. Be careful to review the rules when you have a case with a self-represented party.
Tips To Help You With E-Service
Tip #1 – Create A Separate Email Address For E-Filing
Did you know that most people receive over 120 emails per day? That’s a lot of emails to sift through. You don’t want to miss an email regarding a case or worse delete an email by mistake and not realize it until it’s too late.
When you sign-up for e-filing, you should use an email address that you and others in your firm have access to. The email address you provide when filing your appearance with the court is how you will be served. If you’re the only one with access to that email inbox, your firm may miss an important notice because you are out on vacation, sick or otherwise incapacitated.
Creating a general email address for e-filing that others in your firm can access will ensure that you won’t miss a document.
Tip #2 – Whitelist Email Addresses
You receive countless number of emails every day and emails you actually want to receive are filtered or caught by your email blocking program and put into a junk or spam folder. This means that you may miss important emails from the court, clients, and opposing counsels.
Whitelisting is how you can make sure “good” emails are not filtered by mistake. A “whitelist” is a list of email addresses or domains that you create to let your email program know not to block it as spam or junk email. Each email program is a little different in how you whitelist, but here are a few links to the popular email program and how to whitelist.
Tip #3 – Check Your Junk Mail Folder
No matter if you’ve created a separate email address and created a whitelist, you have to be cautious and check your junk mail folder. Email filters are not perfect and you can’t rely on technology to be foolproof.
In addition to checking your junk mail folder, make sure you turn off the auto-delete feature. If you fail to check your junk mail folder, the last thing you want is to have it auto-delete and lose any possibility of retrieving emails. Not convinced? Read this case from Florida about how deleted junk mail cost them about $1 mil. in attorney’s fees: Emerald Coast Utilities Authority v. Bear Marcus Pointe, LLC, Case No. 1D15-5714, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist (2017).
Reach out to us for all of your e-filing needs. Our team is ready to help your firm transition to e-filing and answer all of your questions. Call us at 844 340-3096 or click here for a demo. InfoTrack also integrates with industry leading case management software to make e-filing and billing reconciliation a breeze.