After-Hours Electronic Filing In Illinois Commerce Commission Acceptable

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that an e-filing in the Illinois Commerce Commission on the final deadline date, but after the close of business, was a timely filing. We first reported on this case when the supreme court agreed to take the appeal from the Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court, which reached an opposite conclusion.

The supreme court ruled that the Commission’s regulation that allowed electronic filing was ambiguous because it “contains no indication whether filing requires actual physical acceptance by a human being in the chief clerk’s office.” The court’s decision thus turned on the Commission’s policy of encouraging electronic filing.

“The entirety of the Commission’s enactment seeks to expand, rather than limit, the ability of parties to make use of the e-docket system. Insisting on a deadline of 5 p.m. would have the opposite effect, limiting the use of e-filing. When faced with a tight deadline, a 5 p.m. rule would encourage attorneys to print, and mail, large documents rather than use the efficient and economical method of electronic filing that the Commission’s rules promote.”

Don’t get too excited, though. The case does not make a broad rule that e-filing after usual business hours always will be acceptable. A jurisdiction is free under this opinion to place a business-hours deadline on an e-filing. “Indeed, the extent to which other jurisdictions have enacted business hours deadlines also serves to underscore the Commission’s own decision not to issue an explicit rule.”

Read the whole opinion, People v. Illinois Commerce Commission, No. 105131 (11/20/08), by clicking here