On December 22, 2015, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder approved a package of bills that will create and provide for the funding of a single, state-wide court electronic filing system.1 Taking effect January 1, 2016, the new law creates the Judicial Electronic Filing Fund ("JEFF") within the Michigan Treasury, the purpose of which is to support the implementation, operation, and maintenance of the single, state-wide electronic filing system.
JEFF is to be funded by the charging of an "electronic filing system fee" beginning on March 1, 2016. This fee will be charged to all civil actions filed in the State of Michigan. This fee will also be in addition to the current filing fees set forth by MCL 600.8371 and MCL 600.2529(a). The new electronic filing system fees that take effect March 1, 2016 are as follows:
- $25.00 for all Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals, Michigan Circuit Court, Michigan Probate Court, and Michigan Court of Claims filings;
- $10.00 for all Michigan District Court filings, including those actions filed for summary proceedings;
- $20.00 for all Michigan District Court filings if a claim for money damages is joined with a claim for other relief;
- $5.00 for all small claims actions.
Essentially, the "electronic filing system fee" will cause an increase the initial filing fee for all civil actions filed in the State of Michigan beginning on March 1, 2016.
This "electronic filing fee" will be the only fee permitted to be charged to or collected in a civil action, specifically for electronic filing. There are currently a few Michigan Courts acting pursuant to Michigan Supreme Court Orders that have electronic filing and charge a transaction fee, which are charged each time any document is electronically filed. The new law provides for a phase out of these fees, specifying that those Courts may continue to collect either $2.50 for filing a document or service of a document or $5.00 for filing a document and service of that document until December 31, 2016.
Of particular importance, the new law specifically provides that the "electronic filing system fee" paid by a party is a recoverable taxable costs. Thus, creditors will be able to recover the additional expense by including the cost of the "electronic filing system fee" as court costs in their judgments.
Creditors should prepare for a modest cost increase in initial Court filing fees. Creditors should also be sure that after the new electronic filing fees take effect, they include those fees as court costs in their civil money judgments.
1 Michigan S.B. 531, 532, 533 and Michigan H.B. 5028, 5029, 5030