There have been some changes recently to court document filing in Michigan. Although most people may not even notice a new Michigan Courts e-file fee, it’s worth an explanation because of the exciting (and possibly at times, frustrating) adjustments that will be taking place in Michigan legal processes in the near future. Electronic court documentation will provide many increased efficiencies. Like all government change, however, there is the potential for some snags as it’s enacted. We will do our best to keep clients informed of the new procedures and additional fees as the process goes forward.
Michigan Courts e-file fee
“The Michigan legislature recently passed a bill which authorizes courts to participate in electronic filing. The legislature requires courts to collect an electronic filing system fee in addition to the existing filing fee when beginning a civil action. Effective March 1, 2016, courts are required to collect the additional fee whether or not the action is filed electronically,” according to the Michigan Bar Journal March 2016 edition.
The Michigan Courts E-file fee will be used to pay for the consolidation of statewide electronic records.
“The State Court Administrative Office projects system costs between $40 and $45 million over the course of the first five years, and estimates that $41.5 million in e-filing fees would be collected during that same span.”
“The goal has been, and continues to be, for court users throughout the state to have access to a uniform e-filing system with one user name and one password no matter where they live or want to file.” According to the Michigan Courts Frequently Asked Questions page published in August 2014.
It’s no small task.
“Creating a statewide system that can accommodate a variety of local court needs and resources is complicated and time-consuming. With 244 trial courts and 165 funding units, Michigan has a locally-funded and controlled court system and each jurisdiction has the authority to choose its own computer system, depending on the ability and willingness of municipal or county governments, who fund those courts, to purchase and support those systems. As a result, courts are supported by 150 computer systems using 20 different case management applications statewide,” according to the Statewide E-Filing in Michigan Questions and Answers page from August 2014.
What does this mean for the average legal client?
In the scheme of things, the increased rates for the Michigan Courts E-File fee will not be egregious.
- $25 for civil actions filed in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, circuit court, probate court and court of claims.
- $10 for civil actions filed in a district court, including summary proceedings actions
- $20 for civil actions filed in a district court if a claim for money damages is joined with a claim for relief other than money damages
- $5 for civil actions filed in the small claims division of a district court.
– According to Michigan Bar Journal
The fee only applies to the initial filing not any subsequent motions or appeals related to the same case, according to a Michigan Supreme Court FAQ memo.
Updates on E-file from the County Circuit Courts
Oakland County Circuit Court
Currently, Oakland County Circuit Court uses a mandatory e-file system designed by Tyler Technologies. “The previous filing fee of $150 will now appear as $175; the filling fee plus jury demand, previously $235, will now appear as $260. This applies to all cases, with the exception of lower court appeals (District and Probate appeals) and those initiated by a governmental agency. (MCL 600.101 – MCL 600.9947),” according to the Oakland County Courts website.
The Oakland County Probate Court suspended its e-file pilot program in March 2014.
Wayne County Circuit Court
“As you are aware, an electronic filing system fee of $25.00 was enacted effective March 1, 2016. Unfortunately, the Court encountered programming challenges in implementing this change for electronically filed cases. If you filed electronically and the fee was not collected at the time of filing, you remain liable for it. You will receive a notice advising you of that status and will be directed to make payment at the Wayne County’s Clerk’s Office on the second floor, Room 201, Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Two Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226,” according to the Third Circuit Court of Wayne County, Michigan.
“This is a mandatory fee required by the State pursuant to MCL 600.1986. Our court does not keep any of this fee. The State is collecting this fee to build a statewide e-filing portal. Until that portal is built and the SCAO approves our use of that portal, our court will not have e-filing. If the court waives the filing fee because of indigency or inability to pay, the court is instructed to also waive the electronic system filing fee.
Genesee County Circuit Court
The 7th Circuit Court in Genesee County issued a memo dated, February 4, 2016 advising citizens of the e-filing fee increase. The memo reads, “The Michigan legislature recently passed a bill which authorizes courts to participate in electronic filing. The legislation requires courts to collect an “electronic filing system fee,” in addition to the existing filing fee when commencing a civil action. Pursuant to MCL 600.1986, courts are required to collect the additional fee, irrespective of whether the action is electronically filed.”
Livingston County Circuit Court
The instructions on the Livingston County Circuit Court website indicates,
“This fee will be paid at the time of case initiation by the party commencing a civil action. The term civil action is defined under MCL 600.1985 and excludes criminal cases, appeals, civil infraction actions, proceedings commenced in the probate court under MCL 700.3982, and proceedings involving juveniles under Chapter 12A of the Probate Code (MCL 712A.1, et seq.).