The County Court Bulk Centre
(CCBC) is a County Court
in England and Wales
created to deal with claims by the use of various electronic media.
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) 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 Courts in the same way as claims issued in the tradtional manner. In March 1992 the CCBC was created to remove the burden of routine matters in simple CPC cases from the other County Courts. 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.
Continued use of the CCBC is subject to the Rules of Membership and Code of Conduct
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:
(a) on magnetic tape;
(b) on a floppy disk;
(c) or by file transfer over a dial-up modem
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 webservice.
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.
As well as issuing Claim Forms, the CCBC also handles requests for Judgments and Warrants of Execution in the same manner.
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 the 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 that £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 Defendant(s) 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 Defendant(s) 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.