I am a civil litigator whose work rarely takes me to the Chancery Division of the High Court. However, as a result of a couple of recent cases I have been brought face to face with the bizarre practices evolving in the Rolls Building, whereby they are now refusing to accept documentation except if sent by the fairly unreliable medium of email. Also, on 20 April they are about to adopt a requirement that all court users open an account with them to pay any court fees.
Apparently, the intention is to refuse to accept any paper documents and to refuse payment of court fees either by cheque or cash. Ironically, the latter point makes the Chancery Division very likely to be about to commit multiple criminal offences under the law of ‘legal tender’, which makes the refusal to accept cash a crime.
Furthermore, these changes mean that every time you appear before the court on even the simplest matters, it is now required to put in a bundle because the court will not have any court file. So, in return for a vast increase in court fees they are requiring solicitors to do even more of their work. This is all being implemented under the ‘Chancery Guide’, which is not only not properly promulgated, but is also, of course, not being used as a guide at all but rather as a backdoor method of rule-making.
The administration at the Rolls Building is, it seems, straying not only into the realms of criminal matters, but also illegal and arguably unconstitutional rule-making.
R C W Tilbrook, Tilbrook’s Solicitors, Ongar, Essex