12 Ways to Avoid A Rejected E-Filing and Other Illinois E-Filing Tips

e-filing tipsLast July, we brought you 30 Things to Know About E-Filing Changes in Illinois. It remains a great resource for e-filing tips to get acquainted with e-filing in our courts.

As of July 1, 2018, we find Cook County, the second largest unified court system in the country, joined by Madison, Kendall, and DeKalb counties, beginning their mandatory e-filing of civil cases on the statewide platform, eFileIL. So, it’s time we brought you an update on some helpful e-filing tips, and what is coming soon for court record accessibility in Illinois.

Time Keeps on Ticking

The timeliness of e-filing is governed by the transmission date and time of transfer. See 7 of the Supreme Court of Illinois’s Electronic Filing Procedures and User Manual. Unless a statute, rule, or court order requires that a document be filed by a certain time of day, a document is considered timely if submitted before midnight (CST) on or before the date on which the document is due. A document submitted on a day when the clerk’s office is not open for business will, unless rejected, be file stamped as filed on the next day the clerk’s office is open for business.

The clerk has 24 to 48 business hours to review a filing. If the filing has a deadline sooner than 24 to 48 hours, you should contact the clerk’s office prior to submitting the filing to request an expedited review.

If a document is untimely due to any court-approved electronic filing system technical failure, the filing party may seek appropriate relief from the court, upon good cause shown. If a document is rejected by the clerk and is therefore untimely, the filing party may seek appropriate relief from the court, upon good cause shown. Rule 10(d).

Don’t Get Rejected: E-Filing Tips

To avoid a rejected e-filing (by the clerk of the court), consider these best practices and e-filing tips as we begin the transition here in Illinois:

  1. Check the Case Number. – Double check that the case number is correct, and the proper format is used (i.e. 2 or 4-digit year – case type abbreviation – up to 8-digit case number).
  2. Play the Matching Game. – Does your party information, case caption, and case number (if filing on existing case) on your document(s) match the information inputted into the e-Filing System?
  3. Include Your Contact Information. – Attorney must include their name, business address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unrepresented parties must include their mailing address and telephone number. Rule 131(d)(1).
  4. Include an Email Address. – Attorneys must, and self-represented party may, include an email address on documents. Rules 11(b), 131(d)(1). This includes filings made in Illinois appellate courts. Rule 312(b). This email address (and up to two optional secondary email addresses) qualifies as acceptable service under Rule 11(c).
  5. Include Your ARDC Number. – Local Rules often require it of attorneys, so why not make a habit of including it too.

– “Attorney Code” (Cook Co.): The Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Office’s Case Management System utilizes a special Attorney Code to identify specific attorneys and firms. This unique, 5-digit Attorney Code is different than your ARDC number, and is required when submitting e-filings in Cook County. You must enter your 5-digit, numeric Attorney Code in the Case Cross Reference Number field. If you are an attorney and do not know your Attorney Code, contact the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office at (312) 603-5030. If you are not an attorney, you must enter 99500.

  1. Check for Missing Signatures. – A document certified pursuant to Section 1-109 of the Code of Civil Procedure may contain an electronic signature as described in 6(a) of the Electronic Filing Procedures and User Manual. E-filed documents should use either an “/s/” followed by your typed name or an electronic image of the signature.
  2. Check Civil Summons for New Language. – New Rule 101 includes the following language to be added to all civil summons:  “E-filing is now mandatory for documents in civil cases with limited exemptions. To e-file, you must first create an account with an e-filing service provider. Visit http://efile.illinoiscourts.gov/service-providers.htm to learn more and to select a service provider. If you need additional help or have trouble e-filing, visit http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/faq/gethelp.asp, or talk with your local circuit clerk’s office.”

The same goes for:

Rule 108 Notice to Heirs and Legatees;

Rule 110 Rights of Interested Persons During Independent Administration;


Rule 291 Proceedings Under the Administrative Review Law; and

Rule 292 Form of Summons in Proceedings to Review Orders of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.

  1. Separate Documents. – Each e-filed document should be a separate PDF file for uploading, e.g. a Motion and a Notice of Motion should each be their own PDF file and uploaded as a “Lead” Document within your “envelope.” Unless you are filing an exhibit that would be attached to another document, most filings should be uploaded as “Lead” documents.
  2. Check for Legibility. – Poorly scanned, illegible, or improperly aligned PDF files will be rejected. Make sure your documents are not upside down, blank, or have bled through to the other side of the document. If you are including separator pages, they need to be marked as such.
  3. Check the Formatting. – Use 8.5 x 11 page size. Rule 10(a). Use at least 1” margins. Keep the top right 2” x 2” corner of the first page of each e-filed pleading blank for the clerk’s stamp. The size of the type in the body of the text must be no less than 12-point font, and footnotes no less than 10-point font (see #17).
  4. Redact Identifying Information. – Personal identifying information must be redacted in accordance with Rules 15138, and 364. (The clerk of the court is not responsible and has no obligation to review, redact, or screen for such information. Rule 9(b).) Be sure to indicate during e-filing that any separate document containing confidential information is being filed under seal and indicate the reason it is confidential information, whether being personal identity information as defined by 138, or confidential information pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 15, statute, rule or order. It is the responsibility of the filer to indicate within the Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP) whether the document is “Confidential” or “Non-Confidential”.
  5. Pay the Appropriate Filing Fee. – Pleadings not accompanied by the appropriate filing fee will be rejected by the clerk. Be sure you have selected the correct case type or filing code so the system can calculate the fee. If you are unsure if there is a filing fee, check the local filing fee schedule online or call the local circuit clerk’s office.

UPDATE (7/18/2018): Here are 25 “Special Instructions for e-filing in Cook County” that you don’t want to miss too!
UPDATE (7/19/2018): A small addition (“or talk with your local circuit clerk’s office”) has been made to the required language in #7, effective immediately.
UPDATE (7/30/2018): Added Attorney Code information for Cook County e-filings in #5.

Search Court Filings

Now that we have e-filing statewide in Illinois, next comes an online portal to improve access to court records for the public, attorneys, and judges. The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) has again partnered with Tyler Technologies to create “re:SearchIL” – a web-based portal, accessible on any device, to provide single point access for case information for all Illinois courts.

All courts using eFileIL will make their e-filed case documents and information available to re:SearchIL. Courts will be the first to benefit from the improved access to information available through re:SearchIL, with judges, clerks, and parties to a case able to access case information.

The Illinois Supreme Court anticipates expanding access to re:SearchIL to all non-party attorneys and the public in a phased implementation as remote public access policies are developed. More to come!

Want More E-Filing Tips? Attend A Training

Don’t just take our word for it. You may find the free Illinois E-Filing Training Webinars helpful (CLE credit offered as well). Upcoming dates include:

  • September 20, 2018, 1-2pm
  • October 17, 2018, 1-2pm
  • November 15, 2018, 1-2pm
  • December 11, 2018, 1-2pm

Register for training and find more information and other e-filing tips on the Court’s e-filing website.

Happy e-filing!

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Mark C. Palmer
As Chief Counsel, Mark leads professionalism programming through the statewide mentoring program, collaborating with stakeholders from Galena to Cairo. Mark also supports the development and delivery of educational programming to lawyers and in law schools. When not in the office, you will likely find Mark and his wife busy raising their twin daughters, enjoying his passion of traveling and eating around the world, and training for his next half marathon.
Mark C. Palmer

15 thoughts on “12 Ways to Avoid A Rejected E-Filing and Other Illinois E-Filing Tips

  1. Mark,
    Very helpful stuff! I have a case now where the clerk held the complaint for several days before rejecting it for not having an e-mail address. Do you have the authority for the:
    The clerk has 24 to 48 business hours to review a filing. If the filing has a deadline sooner than 24 to 48 hours, you should contact the clerk’s office prior to submitting the filing to request an expedited review.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you, Joe! My suggestion is that if you do not hear from a Clerk by two business days after filing, call them. As for a specific rule, it seems to vary by county at the moment. For example, Champaign Co. has “Electronic Filing Standards and Practices” that include such a requirement, whereas I do not see it in the 10th Judicial Circuit “Rules for E-Filing.”

      Overall, I have heard attorney across the state reporting great improvement in Clerks’ turnaround time, including in Cook Co. This is promising.

  2. I have a case in DuPage County where I filed my client’s Appearance. I thought there is a filing fee. The document was accepted, and it appears there is no filing fee. What can I do to verify the status of this filing?

    1. While there may be some limited circumstances that a civil case party appearance comes with no fee, you’re correct to take pause. I would give the Clerk’s Office a call to confirm. They seem to be able to assist pretty quickly in my experience.

  3. my case was rejected for not having a filing fee how long does it take after you pay the filing fee and cash for them to put it back on the docket

    1. Hi Lisa – My best advice would be to directly call the clerk of the court’s office for the filing office with you case number handy. They should be able to look it up and advise on the status over the phone.

  4. I filed for the Mclean Country for the Entry of appearance through efile; I did it on my own. I asked and called the office regarding the right forms or even the right procedure on how to do it online but none gave me a specific and clear instruction. But I was able to do the efile with the help of research. However, after a few days I received an email saying it was rejected due to inappropriate form. But they deducted the fee from my account. Is it possible to get it refund and file the right form?

    1. I hope I can help you find the answer to getting the right form filed and for the right cost. The Access to Justice Commission’s approved court forms for entry of appearance have good directions on how to complete and file them. I’d suggest starting there if you haven’t before: http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Forms/approved/procedures/appearance.asp.

      The McLean Circuit Clerk should be able to help, including addressing how the fee is handled: 309-888-5301
      McLean County Law and Justice Center: https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/counties/mclean

  5. The efiling system is an unmitigated disaster. There needs to be a detailed instruction manual supported by law on EXACTLY how to file each and every possible document. Because a rejected efiling can completely erase a litigants rights (see the appellate court rulings), the exact method for efiling needs to be carefully delineated in state statutes or supreme court rules. The other solution would recognize the time of rejection as binding for time sensitive filings (but currently that is not the case). Otherwise case are not decided on the merits and denied due process.

    Currently the system is unconstitutional in my opinion.

    1. Thank you, Paul, for your comment. I’ve noticed that each Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP) has various guides, instructions, and even blogs about filing that are helpful, in addition to the court’s guides and educational webinars. Additionally, local county circuit clerks have been pushing out their own local guides and instructions (see Champaign Co. for example). I cannot disagree that the rights to access to justice and due process thereto are essential guideposts to making the processes reasonable and fair.

  6. We file for our clients and one of the common reasons for rejections is that documents that get field to courts do not meet the eFiling format requirements. We us https://ezdocfix.com for converting to PDF documents or fixing them. Another common reason is it is really hard to tell if documents should be lead or attachments or separate leads. There is no guidance on this from what we gathered.

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