Florida has recently issued a rule change, SC10-2101, which mandates service by e-mail for cases when filing. The new rule will have a significant impact on the amount of messenger service work.
This rule took effect took effect in non-criminal trial court and appellate cases on September 1, 2012 and will be in the criminal trial court by October 1, 2013. There are two main situations in which service by means other than e-mail will be utilized:
- When service is not allowed by e-mail
- Parties aren’t represented by attorney and haven’t designated an e-mail address
- An attorney has obtained an order exempting service via e-mail
- As a secondary or additional means of service
The courts are now making all attorneys designate a primary e-mail address and while they may seek an exception the odds of qualifying are slim. While other states have implemented e-filing slowly and given attorneys the option to utilize e-filing, in Florida it will be mandatory. The court is only granting exceptions to those who have no email account and who lack access to the internet at the attorney’s office. Those with personal e-mail addresses will not be given an exception.
One of the more interesting parts about this new rule is the vagueness with which service is deemed effectuated. The rule states that service by e-mail is complete when the e-mail is sent. “Sent” is not clearly defined and it is presumed that it will be taken of as the time the sender clicked “Send”. This could prove to be an issue which would need clarifying as we see more and more cases of e-service surrounding initial proceedings.
What this means for messengers and couriers
A number of other states have already implemented e-filing systems including:
- New York
- New Jersey – Special Civil Part and Foreclosure
Unfortunately it looks as though this is a trend which will continue as courts see the success of e-filing implementation in other states and districts and look to cut costs across the board. By reducing the amount of work available in the legal area it is likely messengers will become more specialized in their services and move to take on work from other industries.