Illinois Supreme Court Makes E-Filing Exemption for SRLs

e-filing exemption srlsIt’s official. The Illinois Supreme Court announced major changes to the mandatory e-filing requirement set for the start of 2018. Last week, the Court amended Rule 9(c)(4), allowing an e-filing exemption for certain self-represented litigants (SRLs). 

According to the newly-amended rule, first-time court goers can opt out of filing documents electronically with good cause. The rule offers a few examples of reasonings that should provide many SRLs with an e-filing exemption, including the following: 

  • no computer or Internet access in the home and travel represents a hardship;  
  • a disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, that prevents e-filing;  
  • a language barrier or low literacy (difficulty reading, writing, or speaking in English); or 
  • if the pleading is of a sensitive nature, such as a petition for an order of protection or civil no contact/stalking order. 

To receive this e-filing exemption, self-represented litigants must file a “Certificate for Exemption From E-Filing” with the court – in person or by mail – before or with the initial pleading. It should also include a certification under section 1-109 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The Court will provide SRLs with the proper standardized form for requesting such an e-filing exemption. 

All of this said, judges retain discretion to determine whether good cause is shown. Judges also may decide whether or not, in certain circumstances, if good cause exists without the filing of a certificate. 

The amendments to Rule 9(c)(4) are effective immediately in the state Supreme Court and appellate courts. However, for proceedings in the circuit courts, the law is effective on January 1, 2018. 

It is important to note that this exception only applies to self-represented litigants. Lawyers are still required to file electronically. Attorneys who missed the announcement can review some of the most important changes to the rules here. Lawyers can also view the e-filing guide created by the Lawyers Trust Fund earlier this year. 


*December 19, 2017 — Update: The Cook County [Circuit] Clerk’s Office has filed for an extension to postpone the implementation for mandatory e-filing. 

*January 9, 2018 — The Supreme Court of Illinois has extended the Jan. 1, 2018, deadline to implement mandatory e-filing for all civil cases for Cook County. Through June 30, Cook County is allowed to continue permissive e-filing with a commitment to complete the full case management system integration by April 1. By May 1, Cook County must permit filings for all civil case types to be made on eFileIL.

*January 11, 2018 — All of the counties that were using i2File before (DeKalb, DuPage, Kendall, McHenry, and Winnebago) have until July 1 to move to the new system, according to the Supreme Court’s Order MR 18368. Therefore the above counties have not transitioned to the new system. 

*January 17, 2018 — DeKalb, DuPage, Madison, and McHenry Counties each filed for an additional extension and were denied. All of the counties listed, except DuPage County, have until July 1, 2018 to convert to the new system. DuPage requested an extension to make the move to the new e-filing system until January 1, 2021, which was denied. However, they did receive an extension until July 1, 2019, a year more than DeKalb, Madison, and McHenry counties.

*February 13, 2018 —  The Court News Service (CNS) sued Dorothy Brown for injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C § 1983. The order was entered in favor of CNS by U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly. Brown filed an appeal and asked Kennelly to put a hold on his order. Kennelly denied this on February 13th, but Brown’s appeal is still pending.

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