Berkshire-based Tony Roe Solicitors: the only provincial practice operating the Courts' Service new national digital divorce scheme
1 August 2018
Berkshire-based niche divorce & family law firm, Tony Roe Solicitors, will be in the first cohort of practices in a new phase of the Courts' Service online divorce. It will also be the only provincial practice operating this new digital divorce pilot scheme from the outset.
Clients wanting to take advantage of the pilot, which promises to be much speedier than the current paper-based application, can be based anywhere, whether based in the UK or ex-patriates (ex-pats) abroad, as long as they fulfill the relevant criteria.
Tony Roe, principal of the Theale-based firm, has been working closely with the Courts Service (HMCTS) in advance of this key extension to Get A Divorce. Currently only lay individuals can apply online via the GOV.UK website. Law firms must file a paper application via the relevant divorce centre.
Launched in January 2017, this original pilot for litigants in person initially allowed people seeking a divorce to use an online system which offers prompts and guidance to assist them in completing their application. They would then print off the form and send it to the court. In mid-January 2018, HMCTS extended the service so that the application is now fully digital – submitting the form, sending the relevant documents, and payment. This pilot for litigants in person is now live throughout England & Wales. The solicitors’ pilot is the long-awaited next step.
Principal, Tony Roe, says, “We have today (31 July) been told that HMCTS has been ‘given both Technical and Business readiness approval for the Solicitor application to Go Live’.
“My firm has been issued with access to the digital application and case view screens. Moreover, we have also been sent a copy of PD36E which supports the online filing of applications along with the extension of this PD effective until 29 March 2019.
“I have been told that the project has spoken with senior lawyers and policy ‘who have confirmed that PD36E covers a solicitors ability to access the application and file online’.
“From the statistics, we know that clients have been suffering from delays of months, or even a year. Now, clients who instruct our firm in the pilot will see rapid progress within their divorce, something which the paper- based system cannot deliver.
The firm is one of four practices within the pilot, and the only one outside London. It is based in Theale, West Berkshire, at junction 12 of the M4, between Reading & Newbury.
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