As Illinois adopts a statewide eFiling system, they’ve also standardized a list of issues that might cause a court filing to be rejected and returned to the filer.
Below is a full list of possible court filing rejection reasons listed in the eFileIL Trial Court Configuration Standards on IllinoisCourts.gov, with insights into what each reason means and how to correct it.
Need a cheatsheet? We’ve condensed the rules to a one-page checklist you can hang on your wall. Download One Legal’s Illinois eFiling checklist>>
1. Not text searchable PDF
Most courts prefer that documents be uploaded in a format that allows for their contents to be searched for important passages, making a clerk’s job much easier.
Native text files, like Word documents, are already text-searchable when saved as a PDF. Scanned documents are more work because they start off as image files with no embedded information about the text in those images.
To avoid this rejection reason, make sure your scanned documents have been undergone processing for text searchability. Many programs call this process optical character recognition (OCR), though some may simply refer to the action as “make text searchable.”
By using One Legal to eFile, you can take out this additional step. Once you submit your document through our filing solution, our system automatically applies OCR to each file.
2. Document not signed or improperly signed
Like their paper counterparts, eFiled documents must sometimes be signed to verify that they have been reviewed by the submitting party. Signatures can be made digitally, without pen and paper, but they must adhere to specific formatting rules.
As stated in the Illinois Supreme Court’s Electronic Signature Standards,
“Electronically filed documents that require an original signature when conventionally filed shall bear a facsimile or typographical signature of the attorney or self-represented party authorizing such filing, (e.g. “/s/ Adam Attorney“), and shall be deemed to have been signed in-person by the individual identified.”
You can read more about Illinois’ signature and eSignature requirements in our recent article.
3. Document does not contain or have proper certificate of service
Initial service of process must always be accompanied by a certificate of service to assure the court that all parties to a case are being updated on the state of legal proceedings.
On subsequent filings, this issue should be rare for two reasons. If the party you’re serving has consented to service by email, sending an email to the email address of record is sufficient certification of service. The same applies to electronic messages you serve to registered parties through a service provider like One Legal.
4. Incorrect fees
In Illinois, filers are responsible for choosing and paying the fees that apply to their filing type. If the wrong fees are selected or if insufficient fees are approved for disbursement, the court may reject the filing.
Once you’ve selected your court and case type in One Legal, you may be able to determine which fees are applicable to your filing simply by scanning the pre-populated list of court fees. However, we recommend that you also regularly consult and familiarize yourself with the official fee schedule posted on your court’s website.
5. Incorrect court location
Having a statewide system for court filings means that it is possible to accidentally file a case in the wrong court. In larger counties where there are several courthouses that each accept different case types, filers may be more prone to this mistake.
To reduce this risk of filing in an incorrect venue, One Legal includes street addresses next to all its court names. Be sure to double-check the name and address of the court before submitting each filing.
6. Multiple filings submitted as one transaction
The Illinois Supreme Court’s Digital Media Standards state that documents from multiple cases cannot be merged into a single document or transaction. As a rule, all documents in an order (or “envelope”) must contain the same case number.
Some EFSPs do offer “bulk filing” by automatically segmenting transactions/transactions by case number, instead of requiring the user to do so individually. To inquire about bulk filing capability, contact One Legal.
7. Single filing submitted as multiple transactions
If you can avoid it, there are good reasons you shouldn’t submit a single filing in separate transactions.
Because most EFSPs charge a flat transaction fee, doing so can be unnecessarily expensive to the filer. It also makes it harder for the court to organize your filing, and could trigger a rejection.
However, if the size of your filing exceeds eFileIL’s transaction limits (currently 35 MB at the circuit court level), you might be forced to split up the documents in a filing over multiple transactions. In a case like this, One Legal recommends including a note to the clerk in each transaction referencing the first transaction number in your filing, so the clerk knows to tie them together.
8. Case has been transferred to another appellate court
After a case has been transferred, all subsequent filings must be made in the updated venue.
Before you file, check the status of your case to ensure it’s still active in the court you’re filing into. If it’s not, the clerk should have notified you which court the case has been transferred to.
Make sure the new venue’s name and address matches an option in your eFiling service provider’s court selector. Remember, you’ll also need to revise the headings on each document in your filing to reflect the change of venue. This must be done in a document editor.
9. Incorrect date
If dates listed on your signed documents are obviously wrong—i.e including a date that takes place in the future or before the case was initiated—your filing may be returned to you for correction.
10. Format error
Before the eFileIL rollout, many of Illinois’ circuit courts set their own standards for how documents should be filed, based on the quirks of their filing management systems and the preferences of local clerks and judges. These might have included unique requirements for file type, font size, spacing and styling, margins in certain areas where clerk’s stamps were applied, and how to treat photos or graphics.
In 2018, the eFileIL Digital Media Standards should apply in all eFileIL courts. (A handier, one-sheet summary is available here for quick reference.) In short, you’ll need to submit your filings as text-searchable PDFs that meet certain formatting specifications. If you don’t have PDF conversion software like Adobe Acrobat, you can use One Legal to automatically convert many common file types to text-searchable PDF.
Be aware that while the eFileIL Digital Media Standards cite maximum “envelope” (or transaction) sizes of 150 MB for the Supreme and Appellate courts and 50 MB for trial courts, Odyssey eFileIL can currently only accept envelopes under 35 MB.
11. Rejected Document
The vaguest of all possible rejection reasons. This may mean that one of your documents was submitted in a file type the court’s software cannot recognize, or that a document was password-protected or corrupt. Or, it might be more closely related to any of the other 10 rejection reasons, and simply miscategorized by the clerk.
Your best option, in this case, is to review the document again to see if you can spot the error. Then reach out to the court to try to get clarification. You can also apply One Legal’s Double Check feature to your filing to get a second set of experienced eyes looking over your documents.
As counties transition to eFileIL, they should be adopting the common Digital Media Standards posted by the state Supreme Court. Memorize the rules as soon as you can, and you’ll be less likely to run into rejected filings.