County Court Bulk Centre
|This article is part of the series: Courts of England and Wales|
|Law of England and Wales|
Unlike other county courts the CCBC does not physically hear cases. If any case might require a hearing it is transferred to another county court.
The increasing ubiquity of computers and Internet access led to public discussion of allowing greater use of information technology to run court proceedings.
In January 1990 the Claim Production Centre (CPC) (originally called the Summons Production Centre) was created, with the power to issue and serve claims through information technology. This is currently enshrined within Rule 7.10 of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (CPR). This states that "…there shall be a Production Centre for the issue of claim forms and other related matters…" and that the relevant practice direction makes provision for its use and any modification or disapplication of the CPR.
All claims issued through the CPC were originally issued in the name of a county court in the same way as claims issued in the traditional manner. In March 1992 the CCBC was created to remove the burden of routine matters in simple CPC cases from the other county court. The current definition of such matters is contained in Practice Direction 7C.
Currently both the CPC and CCBC are located in Northampton. Claims issued through the CCBC show Northampton County Court as their court of issue.
Use of the CCBC is available only to members. Membership is free and is available to anyone who successfully demonstrates they can meet the IT requirements of the CCBC.
Cases can be issued through the CCBC in two different ways.
Money Claim Online
Money Claim Online (MCOL) was created in February 2002. It provides users who wish to issue a limited number of claims to commence and manage county court proceedings using a website, and to pay court fees online using a credit card.
Instead of submitting an individual claim form along with an individual payment of the correct fee for each case, CCBC users submit a single file containing each of the claims they wish to issue on a particular day as a data record in a specified format. Fees for all of these cases can be paid in a lump sum.
This file can currently be submitted either:
Since 31st May 2012 files can no longer be submitted by file transfer over a dial-up modem, this was replaced by secure email transfer.
As magnetic tape was the first available method long-standing users of the CCBC might refer to the file as the "tape" even when using another method of submission.
There is currently no ability to issue using a web service.
After processing the file the CCBC provides confirmation of which cases have been issued and which have not, along with appropriate details, either by fax or by a data file which the user can collect using the dial-up modem service.
Claim forms issued by the CCBC are served upon the defendant(s) in the same manner as other courts. However, the response pack also includes a password to allow the defendant to file their response via a website.
Where the defendant contests some, or all, of the claim, the claimant is required (if they wish to continue) to request the case be transferred out of the CCBC.
Rule 7 allows for limits to be placed on the types of claim that may be issued via the CCBC.
These are currently:
- The claim must be for issue in a county court and not the High Court;
- The claim form cannot refer to separate particulars of claim;
- The claim must be for a specified sum of money less than £100,000 sterling, and expressed in sterling;
- The claim cannot be against more than two Defendants;
- Where there are two defendants the claim against each of them must be for the same amount;
- The defendants must not be a child or patient (within the meaning of Rule 21 of the Civil Procedure Rules) or a legally assisted person (within the meaning of the Legal Aid Act 1988);
- The defendant cannot be the Crown;
- The defendants' address for service must be within England or Wales.
In addition the CCBC cannot be used to issue claims under Part 8 of the CPR.