“Despite this enormous expenditure of lawyers’ time and effort, the Trial Bundle which was lodged failed to comply in various respects”

Court Bundles have come under criticism again, there are now hundreds of cases where the bundles submitted to the court have faced critique. The cases along with General Guidance on Bundles recently published by the judiciary is essential reading for any practitioner if they wish to avoid coming under scrutiny resulting in adverse costs orders or worse.
The most recent case where the trial bundle was subject to considerable criticism was the case of C (A Child) [2021] EWFC 32. Where Sir James Munby commented:

“I interject at this point to note that, despite this enormous expenditure of lawyers’ time and effort, the Trial Bundle which was lodged failed to comply in various respects both with the Bundles Practice Direction, PD27A, and with the Statement on the Efficient Conduct of Financial Remedy Hearings … Here, in breach of those requirements, the underlying documents being relied upon by M or F – such as text messages, tenancy documents, bank statements, official documents, lawyers’ party, and party correspondence, etc, etc – were scattered throughout the bundle.

With reference to the layout of a bundle poorly executed in 2008, and the situation he was faced with herein, Sir Munby highlighted his frustrations further;

“That precisely describes the situation with which I was faced in the present case, gravely exacerbated by the deplorable facts (a) that there was very extensive duplication, re-duplication and worse and (b) that many of the documents, as demonstrated by the fact that they were not referred to by anybody, were completely irrelevant to the issues before me. One small example of just how chaotic the bundle was is that the letters dated 2 June 2020 and 30 June 2020 from the Home Office were respectively at C191 and C451. Further comment is superfluous. I forebear from further judicial exhortation to comply with the Practice Direction. Previous experience suggests that it is merely a waste of breath: consider Re L (A Child) [2015] EWFC 15, [2015] 1 FLR 1417, paras 8-25. It is now more than twenty-one years since 10 March 2000, when the then President, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P, issued Practice Direction (Family Proceedings: Court Bundles) [2000] 1 FLR 536. How many more years – decades – have to pass before those who ought to know better, and who, as in the present case, are being more than handsomely remunerated, comply with their obligations?”

This case seeks to highlight the importance of preparing a comprehensive bundle adhering to both the general guidance on PDF Bundles and taking into consideration specific directions of particular courts or the requirements of particular judges in certain cases.

The problem of bundles has been around for years now and with remote hearings being the new normal; paper bundles are now a thing of the past with the court requesting electronic pdf bundles ensuring remote hearings can run smoothly. With many judges working from home along with the rest of the country for over a year now, electronic bundles are here to stay and we at R Costings are experienced in preparing electronic, paginated, court-friendly bundles.

At R Costings we have recently launched our brand new Electronic Bundle Service, we can create your indexed, OCR (optical character recognition), paginated bundle that complies with court requirements, making the bundle easy to navigate at any hearing, whether it’s for trial, CCMC, mediation/ADR or detailed assessment.

Our fully searchable paginated PDF bundles take the administrative heavy burden away from your already busy day. We are able to work from paper files (free, secure collection service from our in-house couriers), electronic files or a hybrid of paper and electronic where you have recently made the transition to paperless working. We offer a free no-obligation quote with quick turnaround times and secure collection/retrieval of paper and electronic files.

Megan Dean – Project Co‑Ordinator & Financial Assistant at R Costings Ltd

You can contact Megan at R Costings Ltd on megan@rcostings.co.uk.

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