On May 30th, 2017 the Illinois Supreme Court entered Order M.R. 18368, which amends a previous order entered on January 2, 2016, and puts into place a specific mandate related to the court, e-filing vendors, and filer transaction fees. The language in this order has caused quite a bit of confusion, particularly with respect to the ability of certified e-filing service providers (EFSPs) to charge a per transaction fee for e-filing. This help article intends to provide some clarification.

The language in order reads as follows:

“1. Effective July 1, 2017, for the Illinois Supreme Court and Illinois Appellate Court, and effective January 1, 2018, for the circuit courts, no court or e-Filing vendor shall charge the filer a transaction or user fee to e-File.” ~ Page 1, Illinois Supreme Court Order M.R. 18368

The Order also includes an annotation as it relates to this section, which attempts to provide clarification, and states the following:

“Par 1. Court and Vendor Fees. The Supreme Court’s Electronic Filing Standards and Principles (Standards) (approved October 24,2012, and amended September 16, 2014) were created to govern standalone e-Filing systems in those jurisdictions approved to e-File. The Standards prohibited courts from collecting a fee (beyond the statutory civil filing fees) but allowed for an e-Filing vendor to charge a transaction or use fee to the e-Filer. Filers not wishing to pay this fee could file in the traditional paper method. Throughout the implementation process for mandated statewide e-Filing, the Court has endorsed the principle that filers should not be burdened with additional fees, such as a transaction or use fee. This order maintains the prohibition on courts collecting a fee as articulated in the Standards and further prohibits vendors from charging transaction or use fees for e-Filing. Prohibited fees do not include statutory filing fees; processing fees related to payments by credit card, debit card, or e-check; or value-added fees for optional services offered by a certified electronic filing service provider (EFSP) for eFileIL.” ~ Page 2, Illinois Supreme Court Order 18368

The full text of the order that these excerpts were captured from can be found here … http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/Announce/2017/053017.pdf.

Let’s start by addressing this excerpt, “… no court or e-Filing vendor shall charge the filer a transaction or user fee to e-File.”

This means that the court is not allowed to collect a per transaction fee for the benefit of the court when implementing e-filing. Furthermore, it means that the court’s e-filing vendor is not allowed to collect a per transaction fee for their own benefit. The software utilized by the court to implement e-filing is commonly referred to as the E-Filing Manager or EFM. In the Odyssey eFileIL system, this software is called Odyssey File & Serve and is provided by Tyler Technologies Inc. (aka the court’s e-filing vendor). According to M.R. 18368 it is the vendor, Tyler Technologies, who is not allowed to collect a per transaction fee for e-filing.

Further, any certified e-filing service provider (EFSP) found on the eFileIL web site is NOT the court’s e-filing vendor. EFSPs are third-party companies who have simply been certified by the eFileIL system to allow filers to utilize their e-filing platforms to submit documents into the eFileIL system.

This is further supported by the this excerpt in the annotation that was included in the order; “… Prohibited fees do not include … value-added fees for optional services offered by a certified electronic filing service provider (EFSP) for eFileIL.”

Certified EFSPs, by their nature, are optional services. Filers are not mandated to e-file utilizing a certified EFSP. Filers can always choose to utilize the free, state hosted, e-filing platform provided by Odyssey eFileIL. As such, a certified EFSP may choose to charge a per transaction e-filing service fee when filers choose to use that EFSP to take advantage of any and all of the features the EFSP’s filing platform may provide, including but not limited to enhanced user interfaces, enhanced email notifications, detailed reporting, and 24/7 customer support.

In short, the intent of the language in this order was to prevent Illinois courts from mandating e-filing and requiring filers to pay a per transaction e-filing fee. The eFileIL system provides for exactly this, as the state has made available to all filers a free option to use the eFileIL e-filing platform.

Further, as any good e-filing implementation would allow for, the order provides for and allows additional e-filing service providers to be certified so that filer may choose to take advantage of the value-added services those EFSPs provide so long as the filer is willing to pay for the services rendered by their chosen EFSP.

Important Note: This help article has been written as the result of hours of discussion between the Illinois Administrative Office of the Courts, the court’s e-filing vendor (Tyler Technologies), and all the certified e-filing service providers. Multiple meetings have been held between these entities to discuss this order, and its intent. This article shares our collective assessment.

We strongly encourage you to contact us if you have any questions at all or wish to engage in a discussion. You may contact us by email or by phone.

George Knecht
george@greenfiling.com
(801) 448-7268