Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.525 Electronic Filing

(a) Definition. “Electronic transmission of documents” means the sending of information by electronic signals to, by or from a court or clerk, which when received can be transformed and stored or transmitted on paper, microfilm, magnetic storage device, optical imaging system, CD-ROM, flash drive, other electronic data storage system, server, case maintenance system (“CM”), electronic court filing (“ECF”) system, statewide or local electronic portal (“e-portal”), or other electronic record keeping system authorized by the supreme court in a format sufficient to communicate the information on the original document in a readable format. Electronic transmission of documents includes electronic mail (“e-mail”) and any internet-based transmission procedure, and may include procedures allowing for documents to be signed or verified by electronic means.

(b) Application. Only the electronic filing credentials of an attorney who has signed a document may be used to file that document by electronic transmission. Any court or clerk may accept the electronic transmission of documents for filing and may send documents by electronic transmission after the clerk, together with input from the chief judge of the circuit, has obtained approval of procedures, programs, and standards for electronic filing from the supreme court (“ECF Procedures”). All ECF Procedures must comply with the then-current e-filing standards, as promulgated by the supreme court in Administrative Order No. AOSC09-30, or subsequent administrative order.

(c) Documents Affected.

(1) All documents that are court records, as defined in rule 2.430(a)(1), must be filed by electronic transmission provided that:

(A) the clerk has the ability to accept and retain such documents;
(B) the clerk or the chief judge of the circuit has requested permission to accept documents filed by electronic transmission; and
(C) the supreme court has entered an order granting permission to the clerk to accept documents filed by electronic transmission.

(2) The official court file is a set of electronic documents stored in a computer system maintained by the clerk, together with any supplemental non-electronic documents and materials by this rule. It consists of:

(A) documents filed by electronic transmission under this rule;
(B) documents filed in paper form under subdivision (d) that have been converted to electronic form by the clerk;
(C) documents filed in paper form before the effective date of this rule that have been converted to electronic form by the clerk;
(D) documents filed in paper form before the effective date of this rule or under subdivision (d) , unless such documents are converted into electronic form by the clerk;
(E) electronic documents filed pursuant to subdivision (d)(5); and
(F) materials and documents filed pursuant to any rule, statute or court order that either cannot be converted into electronic form or are required to be maintained in paper form.

(3) The documents in the official court file are deemed originals for all purposes except as otherwise provided by statute or rule.

(4) Any document in paper form submitted under subdivision (d) is filed when it is received by the clerk or court and the clerk shall immediately thereafter convert any filed paper document to an electronic document. “Convert to an electronic document” means optically capturing an image of a paper document and using character recognition software to recover as much of the document’s text as practicable and then indexing and storing the document in the official court file.

(5) Any storage medium submitted under subdivision (d)(5) is filed when received by the clerk or court and the clerk shall immediately thereafter transfer the electronic documents from the storage device to the official court file.

(6) If the filer of any paper document authorized under subdivision (d) provides a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for return of the paper document after it is converted to electronic form by the clerk, the clerk shall place the paper document in the envelope and deposit it in the mail. Except when a paper document is required to be maintained, the clerk may recycle any filed paper document that is not to be returned to the filer.

(7) The clerk may convert any paper document filed before the effective date of this rule to an electronic document. Unless the clerk is required to maintain the paper document, if the paper document has been converted to an electronic document by the clerk, the paper document is no longer part of the official court file and may be removed and recycled

(d) Exceptions. Paper documents and other submissions may be manually submitted to the clerk or court:

(1) when the clerk does not have the ability to accept and retain documents by electronic filing or has not had ECF Procedures approved by the supreme court;

(2) for filing by any self-represented party or any self-represented nonparty unless specific ECF Procedures provide a means to file documents electronically. However, any self-represented nonparty that is a governmental or public agency and any other agency, partnership, corporation, or business entity acting on behalf of any governmental or public agency may file documents by electronic transmission if such entity has the capability of filing document electronically;

(3) for filing by attorneys excused from e-mail service in accordance with rule 2.516(b);

(4) when submitting evidentiary exhibits or filing non-documentary materials;

(5) when the filing involves documents in excess of the appropriate size limitations specified in the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Electronic Access to the Court. For such filings, documents may be transmitted using an electronic storage medium that the clerk has the ability to accept, which may include a CD-ROM, flash drive, or similar storage medium;

(6) when filed in open court, as permitted by the court;

(7) when paper filing is permitted by any approved statewide or local ECF procedures; and

(8) if any court determines that justice so requires.

(e) Service.

(1) Electronic transmission may be used by a court or clerk for the service of all orders of whatever nature, pursuant to rule 2.516(h), and for the service of any documents pursuant to any ECF Procedures, provided the clerk, together with input from the chief judge of the circuit, has obtained approval from the supreme court of ECF Procedures containing the specific procedures and program to be used in transmitting the orders and documents. All other requirements for the service of such orders must be met.

(2) Any document electronically transmitted to a court or clerk must also be served on all parties and interested persons in accordance with the applicable rules of court.

(f) Administration.

(1) Any clerk who, after obtaining supreme court approval, accepts for filing documents that have been electronically transmitted must:

(A) provide electronic or telephonic access to its equipment, whether through an e-portal or otherwise, during regular business hours, and all other times as practically feasible;
(B) accept electronic transmission of documents up to the appropriate size limitations specified in the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Electronic Access to the Court; and
(C) accept filings in excess of the appropriate size limitations specified in the Florida Supreme Court Standards for Electronic Access to the Court by electronic storage device or system, which may include a CD-ROM, flash drive, or similar storage system.

(2) All attorneys, parties, or other persons using this rule to file documents are required to make arrangements with the court or clerk for the payment of any charges authorized by general law or the supreme court before filing any document by electronic transmission.

(3) The filing date for an electronically transmitted document is the date and time that such filing is acknowledged by an electronic stamp or otherwise, pursuant to any procedure set forth in any ECF Procedures approved by the supreme court, or the date the last page of such filing is received by the court or
clerk.

(4) Any court or clerk may extend the hours of access or increase the page or size limitations set forth in this subdivision.

(g) Accessibility. All documents transmitted in any electronic form under this rule must comply with the accessibility requirements of Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.526.

Court Commentary

1997 Amendment. Originally, the rule provided that the follow-up filing had to occur within ten days. In the 1997 amendment to the rule, that requirement was modified to provide that the follow-up filing must occur “immediately” after a document is electronically filed. The “immediately thereafter” language is consistent with language used in the rules of procedure where, in a somewhat analogous situation, the filing of a document may occur after service. See, e.g., Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.080(d) (“All original papers shall be filed with the court either before service or immediately thereafter.”) (emphasis added). “Immediately thereafter” has been interpreted to mean “filed with reasonable promptness.” Miami Transit Co. v. Ford, 155 So.2d 360 (Fla.1963).

The use of the words “other person” in this rule is not meant to allow a nonlawyer to sign and file pleadings or other papers on behalf of another. Such conduct would constitute the unauthorized practice of law.

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