Rule 5B. Electronic Filing, Signing, or Verification

Editor’s Note:  language in red effective July 1, 2022.

(1) Any court governed by these rules may, by local rule, allow documents to be filed, signed, and verified by registered users of an E-filing system. Any local rule that allows documents to be E-filed may also allow such documents to be E-served. Pleadings and other documents filed or served electronically under any such local rule shall be considered the same as written documents filed or served by conventional means.

(2) Any court governed by these rules shall allow documents to be signed and/or verified by attorneys with an electronic signature either in the form of s/_______ (typed out), a graphic representation of an electronic signature and/or a digital graphic representation of the signature as signed by the person. Attorneys shall also be able to sign all discovery, declarations, subpoenas or any other legal document in this same way. Any such signature shall be considered the same as an original signature for all purposes.

(3) The following definitions shall apply herein.

(a) “E-file” or “E-filing” means the proper electronic transmission of original documents to and from the court for the purposes of E-filing using the court’s E-filing system.

(b) “E-Filer” means a registered user who e-files a document.

(c) “E-Filing system” means a system adopted by local rule of any Circuit, Chancery, Criminal, Probate, Juvenile or General Sessions Court Clerk that allows for the E-filing of documents and is in compliance with the technological standards promulgated by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

(d) “E-service” or “E-served” means the automatically generated electronic transmission to all participants in a case who are registered users, by and through the E-filing system, of (i) a notice of the filing of a document with a copy of the document attached, (ii) a notice of the filing of a document with a hyperlink to the document, or (iii) a notice of the filing of a document and the document can be accessed by the registered user in the E-filing system.

(e) A “registered user” is a person who has properly registered with and has been authorized by a court system administrator to use an E-filing system for the E-filing of documents in accordance with the requirements of a local rule of court. A registered user is deemed to have consented to E-service and is responsible for maintaining a valid and current e-mail address in the E-filing system.

[As added by order filed December 14, 2009, effective July 1, 2010; as added by order filed on January 16, 2020, effective July 1, 2020; and as added by order filed August 24, 2021 effective July 1, 2022.]

Advisory Commission Comment [2010]

The courts in certain counties have expressed a desire to implement an electronic filing system. This rule permits trial courts, by local rule, to adopt such systems.

Electronic filing systems have also been implemented in all of the federal district courts (with the sole exception of the United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands) and in a number of states. Electronic filing offers numerous advantages over traditional “paper filing,” including vastly increased public access to court documents and reduction of the time and expense incurred by litigants and court personnel in filing, storing, and retrieving documents.

The Commission envisions that, in the not too distant future, all of Tennessee’s courts will adopt electronic case filing systems. In order to achieve statewide uniformity, the systems utilized throughout the state must comply with technological standards promulgated by the Supreme Court. Without such uniformity, the desired ease of access to data and cost efficiencies could not be achieved.

Advisory Commission Comment [2020]

Advisory Commission Comments [2020]. Rule 5B is amended along with Rule 5.02 to provide for a means of service through a Court’s e-filing system adopted in accordance with the first sentence of this rule. The existing Rule 5B provides for e-filing under applicable local rules, but does not provide for service to be made through an e-filing system. The 2020 amendment provides rules for service to be accomplished through an e-filing system. These definitions apply when service is made through an e-filing system under Rule 5.02


Advisory Commission Comment [2021]

Rule 5(B) is amended by adding a new sub-paragraph 2 to allow the use of electronic signatures by attorneys, including, but not limited to, signatures completed in DocuSign and Adobe signing programs and/or other such programs.


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