October 2022 welcomed new guidance from the Sheriffs Principal pertaining to the submission of electronic documents to the Sheriff Courts in Scotland.
The pandemic brought about a sharp increase in the number of documents being sent electronically and whilst a temporary measure was put in place to allow this, the new guidance now recognises electronic documents as a permanent fixture in Scottish law.
Find out more about the changes and what this means for the future of electronic documents in our latest blog post.
What are the changes?
Previously, paper was the accepted format in which to submit documents to the sheriff courts, however the new guidance states that documents should now “only be lodged in hard copy form where there are exceptional circumstances or where a Sheriff so directs in advance of a hearing.”
This means that all documents in relation to new or existing cases in the Sheriff Courts should be lodged electronically.
Submission for all electronic documents, with the exception of initiating documents, should be completed via Civil Online. Documents can also be submitted via email to the relevant Court mailbox set out in the guidance.
Any electronic document will be deemed to have been lodged with the Court on the date when the email was received at the correct email address. No hard copy document will henceforth be accepted unless the Court has made a specific order.
Commissary businesses are exempt from this guidance as they are covered by the Lord President’s Practice Note Number 1 of 2020 “Exception to electronic signatures and transmission of documents”.
What are the benefits of electronic documents?
Electronic documents becoming more widely accepted brings with it a number of benefits:
More efficient processing
Electronic documents reduce the need for hard copies to be printed, posted and filed, ultimately saving time and speeding up the overall process.
Easier document retrieval & reduced storage space
Electronic documents are more easily retrievable than hard copy forms, once more speeding up processing times. Submitting documents electronically also minimises the storage space needed to retain copies, meaning less money spent on unnecessarily large filing cabinets!
Documents stored in the cloud are less likely to be lost, damaged or stolen. It also prevents potential tampering and ensures the documents remain authentic.
Documents which require input or review by a number of different parties can easily be shared and edited collaboratively online as opposed to hard copy documents which must be posted from one party to the other; a time consuming process.
Paving the way for eSignatures
With the removal of restrictions on submitting electronic documents underway, it’s likely to give rise to other aspects of electronic data such as e-signatures.
The last two years have seen a sharp increase in the electronic signing of documents by Scottish businesses in response to remote working. With increased availability of secure e-signatures and the new guidance which favours electronic documentation, it’s likely that e-signatures will receive a higher uptake in the future.
Not only will this increase processing times, enhance security and generally make everyone’s lives easier, but will lead to a greener, more sustainable way of signing which also costs less – win win!
Ultimately, this small change to Scottish guidance is likely to pave the way for a more technologically advanced future: ensure you are prepared by exploring how e-signatures can work for you!
Get ahead with Signable
As electronic data continues to become the norm, it’s important not to get left behind.
If you’re tired of chasing paper and thinking of going digital for all your document needs, we’ve got you covered!