Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Will E-service Replace Certified Mail Elsewhere?

The demise of Certified Mail may be coming. Florida has already migrated to electronic mail for transmitting petitions, responses and other pleadings. The savings that result are dramatic. Cost savings are detailed in eJCC Saves Millions

Last week the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission announced that they have decided to begin moving away from Certified Mail. This is a discretionary action on their part, as their transmission of documents is directed to be by either Certified Mail, U.S. Mail, or electronic mail. 

The action by the South Carolina Commission may not be an abandonment of paper, but it may be a first step. Their announcement last week does not say that the Commission will not use the U.S. Postal Service for sending notices, forms and orders, just that they will not use Certified. Certified adds about $3.10 to each mailing, in addition to the postage ($.46). 

The Commission's notice also does not address how attorneys serve documents. Experience in Florida supports that much is spent by the state to transmit documents to parties and their attorneys, but as much or more is spent by the parties communicating with each other throughout a case. Consistency is also a benefit to attorneys. If they are to expect email from the Commission, adopting a process by which they use the same medium for communications among themselves brings consistency. 

This step by the South Carolina Commission may signal that it is moving in the direction of an e-mail process. Certainly, much will be saved by not adding that $3.10 to the tab for Certified Mail. Significant savings may be added to this by migrating to email as the primary delivery system, and abandoning the United States Post Office entirely. The $.46 price of a First Class stamp will only continue to rise. 

The paradigm has shifted in Florida. The indicators support that change is coming elsewhere. The paperless process is a reality towards which we will all progress. We will not change the fact that change is coming, we may only choose how we react to it.

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