The amendment to the Magistrates' Court Rules in terms of Gazette 33487 of 23 August 2010, which came into force in October that year, expressly provides for the electronic service of pleadings. This allows for the Electronic Service of Pleadings in the Magistrate's Court and Regional Court. Lexpro Systems software provides powerful tools to support the electronic service of pleadings in an attorney's office. The intention is that documents can be served electronically between litigants, obviating the need for the physical service of pleadings. At the time of writing this, physical filing of pleadings is still a requirement.
Since early 2013 Electronic Service is now also possible in the High Court. Since its inception, the Land Claims Court has allowed service by fax, if it is followed the next day by a hard copy in the mail.
Note that the relevant rules merely allow for the use of electronic service, but it does not prescribe any details as to how the service is used or controlled.
Please also see the article in De Rebus, October 2012, page 47 which talks about service by Social Media.
Software Versions and Upgrade
Specific changes were made to the Lexpro Litigation and Debt Collection module in July 2013. Make sure that the version you are using is dated to SQL 20130725 or later. Older versions of the software does not support the features described below.
A System Wide Receipt Address
Much as a single receptionist accepts physical service of pleadings, it is advisable to have a single point of entry for incoming electronic pleadings.
Lexpro accommodates this with a designated incoming email address and fax number, which should be inserted in the Global Setup.
Once the system is configured as set out above, Lexpro will automatically include our preferred service email address and fax number on pleadings (from Global Setup).
New standard documents have been added, such as the new Magistrate's Court “Notice of Intention to Defend ito Rule 13(3)” and the High Court “Notice of Intention to Defend ito Rule 19(3)” which expressly provides for electronic service.
Pleadings will be generated with the Opponent's four address lines, as well as the preferred fax and email address as completed on the F5 Open/Amend screen.
In the event that the parties have not yet made the necessary arrangements, Lexpro comes pre-loaded with a standard “Electronic Service Notice” which may be edited to suit the firm's specific needs.
Please look in the “Notices” section of the Magistrate's Court, Regional Court and High Court menus. The following new documents are available:
*Request for electronic service
*Notice in terms of rule 13(3)(c)
*Application in terms of rule 13(3)(d)
*Electronic service affidavit
These should be edited to reflect the details of each firm.
This is a continuation to a previous article in Tech4Law titled "The Electronic Litigation Age Cometh"