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Emergency California Rules of Court Update: Electronic Service Required in All Forms of Litigation

Effective April 17, 2020, additional temporary rules have been added to the California Rules of Court in response to COVID-19. To sustain essential court services in California state courts and to promote social distancing, the Judicial Council previously announced the adoption of an initial set of Emergency Rules to the California Rules of Court, which went into effect earlier this month on April 6, 2020. 

A summary of those rules can be found here. Similar to the earlier set of rules, the additional Emergency Rule 12 will stay in effect until amended or repealed by the Judicial Council, or until the end of a 90-day period after the Governor declares the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.

The newly added Emergency Rule 12 requires parties to receive electronic service of notices and documents in all general civil actions. Before serving electronically, the serving party must email or call the recipient to confirm the correct electronic service address for the counsel being served.

When a party provides an electronic service address and a copy of Emergency Rule 12, the other party must electronically serve the requesting party with any notice or document that would otherwise have been served by mail, express mail, overnight delivery, or fax. Under Emergency Rule 12, confidential or sealed records served electronically must be sent through encrypted methods.

Importantly, Emergency Rule 12 incorporates an existing rule that provides that any period of notice, or any right or duty to do any act or make any response after the service of the document, is extended by two court days where service is made by electronic means. Therefore, Emergency Rule 12 does not shorten or alter existing notice or response periods where service is made electronically.

The Emergency Rules, including the newly added rules, can be found in their entirety at the link here. Our prior coverage of the initial set of Emergency Rules can be found here

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