Electronic submission of simple procedure cases will become mandatory from 1 December 2020, unless a sheriff accepts that an exemption can be claimed.

The rule change has been approved by the Scottish Civil Justice Council to help deal with the efficient administration of business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rule will remain in force until 30 September 2021.

It will mean that all simple procedure cases must be submitted using Civil Online or the new application programming interface (API) which was launched on 17 September. The rules provide an exemption for those who are unable to submit their claims by either of these methods, allowing claimants to note the reason(s) explaining why they are unable to do so, for consideration by a sheriff.

Kay McCorquodale, chief development and innovation officer at Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service, said: “Civil Online has been a success since its launch in April 2019. This rule change will ensure a greater uptake in the use of the system which will help courts deal more efficiently with processing simple procedure claims. We were keen to ensure that the rule did not exclude anyone from raising a simple procedure claim and the exemption included within the rules ensures that those unable to access the system, for whatever reason, remain able to raise their claims.

“This rule change has effect until 30 September 2021 and we will use this time to monitor the practical effects of the change in order to assess how any permanent move towards electronic submission may benefit both users and the courts.”