Preparing for court- Bundles
When preparing for a trial a bundle must be created. A bundle consists of all the most relevant documents so that a court may easily understand the case. A simple summary at the start of the bundle will suffice. The bundle also provides an easy way for all, the judge, and the defendant to have access to the same documents and will ensure that everyone is on the right page for the smooth delivery of evidence.
The defence will wish to see the documents that need to be relied on in Court; the fact that there is a bundle containing the documents that will be used gives them the best opportunity to prepare for the case and allows for both parties to have have an equal footing.
The bundle must as a minimum contain:
- A copy of the claim form and statements of case
- A summary and/or chronology where appropriate
- Requests for further information and responses to the requests
- All witness statements to be relied on as evidence
- Any witness summaries
- Any notices to rely on hearsay evidence
- Any notices of intention to rely on evidence not contained in a witness statement, affidavit or experts report, being given orally at trial
- Any medical reports and responses to them
- Any experts reports and responses to them
- Any order for directions
- Any other necessary documents
A bundle must avoid duplication of documents as this is a waste of paper, as well as this the documents must be in chronological order and organised so that, like a story it follows from beginning to end which gives an easier read for the judge and everyone involved.
All documents in the bundle must be paginated with an index containing a description of each document to keep everything in a flowing order and without conflicts for the trial to go as smoothly as possible. Documents are usually kept in binders or lever arch files to keep at the documents together.
If there is any dispute with the bundles or if it is simply too difficult to follow then a court may reject it or reject cost order for the creation of the bundles. Christopher Clarke J listed the deficiencies in the trial bundle in OJSC v Abramovich 2008 EWHC 261:
“These failings, which are neither familiar, nor, in the overall scheme of things, momentous, ought not to occur. They add, unnecessarily and avoidably to the burden of dealing expeditiously with a case of this magnitude.”
What he was saying therefore that in a complicated case where many documents are passing hands, this ill preparation of a bundle creates unnecessary problems which shouldn’t exist if they took better care in the creation of the bundle.
In practice the bundle will contain all the documents relevant for the case, the responsibility of making a bundle is usually down to the claimant’s solicitor but the parties can agree otherwise.
A typical bundle will have a procedural bundle, a substantive bundle and an authority’s bundle. The procedural bundle includes the statement of case, court orders, witness statements, experts’ reports and important inter-solicitor correspondence.
The substantive bundle is the most consuming aspect of preparing trial bundles, as it includes the relevant disclosure documents in chronological order and a glossary where appropriate. This is time consuming as it involves the location of all documents which by the time the case goes to Court may be several years old and unless it is on a computer will be lost. Organisation is the key element here to reduce the time taken.
A core bundle is prepared where the substantive bundle is extensive. This bundle contains the key documents relating to the case. Pagination is slightly different in the core bundle; it must continue from the substantive bundle but also have separate core bundle pagination.
The authorities bundle is quite simply all the authorities meaning the statute, case law etc which is to be relied on in court.
Travelling draft trial bundle index
When preparing a bundle, a draft trial bundle index must be created first which can be sent to your opponent and is irresponsible to do any bundling until the index is approved.
Due to the fact that bundles are a time consuming process and therefore should be done as soon as possible to avoid missing the due date. Preparation of the first draft of the trial bundle index should be prepared as soon as practicable. Often the situation is done by having a hard copy of both parties’ disclosure lists and manually flag up any documents that should be included into the bundles.
When the index is ready, it should be sent to counsel for comments and approval. From here it is sent to the other side of which time must be allowed for the opponent to properly consider the draft index. Any requests from the other side may be added at this point, it is in your best interests to add any sensible requests as it speeds up the process and the bundles will be created sooner.
Once the index has been agreed, a copy must be retained for future reference. The column for references may be removed and saved as a new document. It is also beneficial to adapt the layout to make it more user friendly for the judge.
Overall, it is important that bundles are finished in advance of the case however they must be done correctly to avoid any problems in court, which will not only be detrimental for you but all other parties dealing with the case.
MJC via Tom Mould.