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Court Bundles

What is a Court Bundle?

A court bundle is a lever arch folder (or number of folders) which contain evidence, case management paperwork (e.g. application forms and directions), statements, expert reports and documents related to a case.

How should a bundle be structured?

Sections

The court bundle should have an index and the following separate sections:

  1. Preliminary Documents: These should include:
    1. Case Summary:an up to date case summary of the background to the hearing confined to those matters which are relevant to the hearing and the management of the case and limited, if practicable, to four A4 pages. Where proceedings relating to a child are being heard by magistrates the summary of the background shall be prepared in anonymised form, omitting the names and identifying information of every person referred to other than the parties´ legal representatives (if represented). Identifying information can be contained in all other preliminary documents. The summary should also include the number of pages contained in the bundle;
    2. Statement of Issues:a statement of the issue or issues to be determined at that hearing and at the final hearing;
    3. Position Statements:a position statement by each party including a summary of the order or directions sought by that party at that hearing and at the final hearing;
    4. Chronology:an up to date chronology, if it is a final hearing or if the summary is insufficient;
    5. Skeleton Arguments: see our separate guide on Skeleton Arguments;
    6. Essential Reading List: a list of essential reading for that hearing; and
    7. The Time Estimate: see below.
  2. Applications and Orders: application forms and court orders;
  3. Statements: statements and affidavits (which must be dated in the top right corner of the front page) but without exhibiting or duplicating documents referred to in the following section "Which documents should be EXCLUDED from the bundle?";
  4. Expert Reports: experts´ reports and other reports (including those of a guardian, children’s guardian or litigation friend); and
  5. other documents, divided into further sections as may be appropriate.

Time Estimates

In every case a time estimate (which shall be inserted at the front of the bundle) shall be prepared which shall so far as practicable be agreed by all parties and shall:

  1. specify separately:
    1. the time estimated to be required for judicial prereading; and
    2. the time required for hearing all evidence and submissions; and
    3. the time estimated to be required for preparing and delivering judgment;
  2. be prepared on the basis that before they give evidence all witnesses will have read all relevant filed statements and reports; and
  3. take appropriate account of any additional time likely to be incurred by the use of interpreters or intermediaries.

Once a case has been listed (a date and time has been set), any change in time estimates shall be notified immediately by telephone (and then immediately confirmed in writing):

  1. in the case of hearings in the RCJ, to the Clerk of the Rules; and
  2. in the case of hearings elsewhere, to the relevant listing officer.

Case Law/Authorities

Copies of all authorities (case law) relied upon (if filing a skeleton argument) must be contained in a separate composite bundle agreed between the advocates/parties.

All statements, affidavits, experts´ reports and other reports included in the bundle must be copies of originals which have been signed and dated.

Pagination

The documents in the bundle must be arranged in chronological order from the front of the bundle, paginated individually and consecutively (starting with page 1 and using Arabic numbering throughout e.g. 1,2,3). Additionally, each section should be separately paginated.

Agreement by the parties

The summary of the background, statement of issues, chronology and reading list shall in the case of a final hearing, and shall so far as practicable in the case of any other hearing, each consist of a single document in a form agreed by all parties. Where the parties disagree as to the content the fact of their disagreement and their differing contentions shall be set out at the appropriate places in the document.

Where one party is a litigant-in-person and the other party is represented, this can get missed. The relevant rule can be found at paragraph 4.6 of Practice Direction 27A.

Format of the bundle

Unless the court has specifically directed otherwise, being satisfied that such direction is necessary to enable the proceedings to be disposed of justly, the bundle shall be contained in one A4 size ring binder or lever arch file limited to no more than 350 sheets of A4 paper and 350 sides of text (the size limit applies from July 2014).

All documents in the bundle shall be copied on one side of paper only, unless the court has specifically directed otherwise, and be typed or printed in a font no smaller than 12 point and with 1 and a half or double spacing.

The ring binder or lever arch file shall have clearly marked on the front and the spine:

  1. the title and number of the case;
  2. the place where the case has been listed;
  3. the hearing date and time;
  4. if known, the name of the judge hearing the case; and
  5. where in accordance with a direction of the court there is more than one ring binder or lever arch file, a distinguishing letter (A, B, C etc).

Which documents should be EXCLUDED from the bundle?

The following documents should not be included within the bundle unless specifically directed by the court:

  1. correspondence (including letters of instruction to experts);
  2. medical records (including hospital, GP and health visitor records);
  3. bank and credit card statements and other financial records;
  4. notes of contact visits;
  5. foster carer logs;
  6. social services files (with the exception of any assessment being relied on by any of the parties);
  7. police disclosure.

Who is responsible for preparing a Court Bundle?

The applicant will normally be responsible for preparing the bundle, unless they are a litigant-in-person (representing themselves without a solicitor), where the first listed respondent´s solicitor has this responsibility. If no party is represented, a court bundle need not be filed with the court unless the court specifically directs that a party should do so. The contents of the bundle should ideally be agreed by all parties.

When must a Court Bundle be prepared?

A court bundle must be prepared for all hearings (unless both parties are litigants-in-person) or a hearing has been listed urgently and it is impractical to produce a bundle in the timescale.

What is the timetable for ´lodging´ the Bundle?

The party preparing the bundle shall, whether or not the bundle has been agreed, provide a paginated index to all other parties not less than 4 working days before the hearing.

Where a barrister is to represent a party at any hearing, a paginated bundle shall (if not already in the barrister´s possession) be delivered to the barrister by the instructing solicitor not less than 3 working days before the hearing.

The bundle (with the exception of the preliminary documents if available) must be lodged with the court not less than 2 working days before the hearing, or at such other time as may be specified by the judge. The preliminary documents must be lodged with the court no later than 11 am on the day before the hearing and, where the hearing is before a High Court judge and the name of the judge is known, be sent by e-mail to the judge´s clerk at the same time.

How do I lodge the Bundle

  1. For hearings in the Royal Courts of Justice, the bundle should be delivered to the office of the Clerk of the Rules, Room TM 9.09, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL (DX 44450 Strand);

  2. For hearings at any other court, the bundle should be delivered to where the Designated Family Judge or other judge at that court directs, and if no such direction has been given, to the court office where the hearing is to take place.
  3. Where a case is being heard by a bench of Magistrates, four copies of the bundle must be delivered.
  4. Any bundle sent to the court by post, DX or courier shall be clearly addressed to the appropriate office and shall show the date and place of the hearing on the outside of any packaging as well as on the bundle itself.
  5. The party who is responsible for lodging the bundle shall bring to court at each hearing at which oral evidence may be called a copy of the bundle for use by the witnesses.
  6. In the case of hearings at the RCJ or at any other place where the designated family judge responsible for that place has directed that this paragraph shall apply, parties shall:
    1. if the bundle or preliminary documents are delivered personally, ensure that they obtain a receipt from the clerk accepting it or them; and
    2. if the bundle or preliminary documents are sent by post or DX, ensure that they obtain proof of posting or despatch.

The receipt (or proof of posting or despatch, as the case may be) should be brought to court on the day of the hearing and must be produced to the court if requested.

Lodging the Bundle - additional requirements

Where hearings are at the Royal Courts of Justice, bundles or preliminary documents delivered after 11 am on the day before the hearing may not be accepted by the Clerk of the Rules and if not shall be delivered:

  1. in a case where the hearing is before a judge of the High Court, directly to the clerk of the judge hearing the case;
  2. in a case where the hearing is before any other judge, to such place as may be specified by the Clerk of the Rules.

Upon learning before which judge a hearing is to take place, the clerk to counsel, or other advocate, representing the party in the position of applicant shall no later than 3 pm the day before the hearing:

  1. in a case where the hearing is before a judge of the High Court, telephone the clerk of the judge hearing the case;
  2. in a case where the hearing is before any other judge email the Clerk of the Rules at RCJ.familyhighcourt@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk to ascertain whether the judge has received the bundle (including the preliminary documents) and, if not, shall organise prompt delivery by the applicant's solicitor.

Removing the Bundle

Following completion of the hearing the party responsible for the bundle shall retrieve it from the court immediately or, if that is not practicable, shall collect it from the court within five working days. Bundles which are not collected in due time may be destroyed.

Penalties

Failure to provide a bundle in the correct format and within the correct time frames can result in cases being delayed and wasted costs orders being made.

Our Court Bundle Package

This pack includes our guide to preparing a court bundle and templates for the index, position statement, chronology, statement of issues, and summary. £5.00

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Michael Robinson © 2014

Family law information for parents whose children are resident in England and Wales

Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's printer for Scotland.

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