A revised Family Procedure Rules 2010, PD 27A came into effect from 23 July 2018, introducing page limits for certain types of documents, requirements in relation to bundles of authorities and making amendments regarding the use of electronic bundles in family proceedings.

The implications are wide-reaching: practitioners may not give thought to the preparation of court bundles until later in the proceedings, but the changes mean that when instructing an expert to prepare a report, they now need to be instructed from the outset to limit the length of their report to 40 sheets of A4 paper and sides of text, including an executive summary of no more than four pages at the beginning of the report. Remember that instructions to experts are now also subject to the requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Witness statements and affidavits also are now limited in length, to 25 sheets of A4 paper, so it is important to plan ahead. If it seems likely that bundle documents will exceed the new page limits, the court’s permission must be obtained to do so.

Draft revised Practice Direction 27A—Family Proceedings: Court Bundles (Universal Practice to be applied in the High Court and Family Court)

What are the key changes?

A final draft of a revised FPR 2010, PD 27A, has been approved by the Family Procedure Rules Committee, the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, and the Master of the Rolls, and awaits only formal signature by the Minister. It came into force on 23 July 2018. The basic requirements of FPR 2010, PD 27A remain as previously, but with various minor changes. The three main changes are:

  • the introduction of page limits for certain types of documents—note that these can be varied by the court if necessary to enable the proceedings to be disposed of justly
  • provision for further requirements in relation to bundles of authorities, and
  • the inclusion of various provisions that make it clear that FPR 2010, PD 27A applies, with certain modifications, to electronic as well as to paper bundles

See also Practice Note: Preparation of court bundles in family proceedings for practical guidance on the requirements of FPR 2010, PD 27A generally.

What are the amended requirements?

Para 2.1 is amended to reflect that PD 27A applies to electronic bundles, subject to any directions in relation to local arrangements as may be specified by the designated family judge for the relevant area with the agreement of the President of the Family Division. Para 2.2 now provides that (emphasis added):

‘”Hearing” includes all appearances before the court, whether with or without notice to other parties, whether at first instance or (subject to paragraph 5.2A.3) on appeal and whether for directions or for substantive re-lief.’

Two new paragraphs have also been added, ie:

‘2.5 This practice direction applies whether the bundle is prepared and presented in paper or in electronic format. In relation to a hearing before a High Court Judge an electronic bundle may be used with the permis-sion of the judge and in accordance with directions given by the judge. In relation to all other hearings an electronic bundle may be used only

(a) in such cases or classes of case as have been approved by the designated family judge for the relevant area with the agreement of the President of the Family Division; and

(b) in accordance with the local arrangements.’

and:

‘2.6 In this practice direction, the term “lodged with the Court” and any comparable expression in respect of an electronic bundle means making the electronic bundle available to the Court or Judge (and, where re-quired, to the other parties) in accordance with the local arrangements.’

A subscription is required to LexisPSL Family, to view all the links. To subscribe, call: 0330 161 1234 or sign up here.

Para 4.3(d) is amended to place a restriction on the length of a chronology or summary, and making provision for cross-referencing, ie (emphasis added):

‘4.3 At the commencement of the bundle there shall be inserted the following documents (the preliminary documents):

(d) an up to date chronology, if it is a final hearing or if the summary under (a) is insufficient, each entry be-ing limited, if practicable, to one sentence and cross-referenced to the relevant page(s) in the bundle

A new para 4.3A.1 has been inserted and provides:

‘4.3A.1 Copies of all authorities relied on must be contained in a separate composite bundle agreed between the advocates. 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 not contain more than 10 au-thorities. Where a case is reported in a law report which contains a headnote, such a report shall be used and transcripts (including transcripts on BAILII) shall not be used. Where the bundle is in electronic format an appropriate hyperlink to each authority should be provided.’

In addition, a new para 4.3A.2 provides:

‘4.3A.2 Attention is drawn to paragraph 6 of Practice Direction (Citation of Authorities) [2001] 1 WLR 1001 and to Practice Direction (Citation of Authorities) [2012] 1 WLR 780 (both set out in The Family Court Practice) which must be complied with. The reference to “county court cases” in para 6.1 of the first practice direction should be read as including family court cases decided by a judge other than a judge of High Court judge level. Therefore, a judgment on an application attended by one party only, or on an application for permis-sion to appeal, or that only decides that the application is arguable, or by the county court, or in the family court of a judge other than a judge of High Court judge level, may not be cited or included in the bundle of authorities unless either (i) the judgment clearly indicates that it purports to establish a new principle or to extend the present law or (ii) the court for good reason has specifically directed otherwise.’

A subscription is required to LexisPSL Family, to view all the links. To subscribe, call: 0330 161 1234 or sign up here.

Para 5.1 is amended to reflect that the limit of 350 pages of text applies equally to electronic bundles, and para 5.2 is amended as follows (emphasis added):

‘5.2 All documents in the bundle (including statements, affidavits, care plans and experts’ reports and other reports) shall (a) in the case of a paper bundle be copied on one side of paper only, unless the court has specifically directed otherwise, (b) be divided by the author into numbered paragraphs and (c) be typed or printed in a font no smaller than 12 point and with 1½ or double spacing.’

New paras 5.2A.1 and 5.2A.2 provide that, unless the court has directed otherwise where necessary to enable the proceedings to be disposed of justly, the following documents included in the bundle shall be limited as specified:

  • case summary—six sheets of A4 paper and sides of text
  • statement of issues—two sheets of A4 paper and sides of text
  • position statement—three sheets of A4 paper and sides of text
  • chronology—ten sheets of A4 paper and sides of text
  • skeleton argument—20 sheets of A4 paper and sides of text
  • list of essential reading—one sheet of A4 paper and side of text
  • witness statement or affidavit (exclusive of exhibits)—25 sheets of A4 paper and sides of text
  • expert’s or other report—40 sheets of A4 paper and sides of text (including an executive summary of no more than four pages at the beginning of the report)
  • care plan—10 sheets of A4 paper and sides of text

Para 5.3 is amended to reflect that the requirements as to details to be included on the front of the bundle and the spine apply to paper bundles, and the following addition made as to electronic bundles:

‘In the case of an electronic bundle the bundle must be clearly identifiable with the title and number of the case and as much of the information set out above as is practical should also be provided in accordance with the local arrangements.’

A subscription is required to LexisPSL Family, to view all the links. To subscribe, call: 0330 161 1234 or sign up here.

Para 7.4 is amended as follows to again make provision for electronic bundles (emphasis added):

‘7.4 Unless the court has given some other direction or paragraph 7.5 applies only one copy of the bundle shall be lodged with the court but 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 (or in the case of an electronic bundle make appropriate arrangements in accordance with the local arrangements for the use by the witnesses of the electronic bundle).’

Para 7.5 is amended to reflect that the requirement for four bundles to be lodged with the court applies to paper bundles, and para 7.6 amended to reflect that the requirement to obtain proof of posting or despatch applies also to electronic bundles. 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 in a case where the hearing is before a judge of the High Court, telephone the clerk of the judge hearing the case, or in a case where the hearing is before any other judge email the Clerk of the Rules at RCJ.familyhighcourt@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk (para 8.2).

Para 9.1 is amended to make provision that ‘The local arrangements will specify the length of time that an electronic bundle will remain available to the court following a hearing.’

A subscription is required to LexisPSL Family, to view all the links. To subscribe, call: 0330 161 1234 or sign up here.

When will the changes take effect?

The amendments came into effect on 23 July 2018.

Lexis®PSL Family

This guide is a practice note taken from Lexis®PSL Family.

Lexis®PSL Family helps you research family law, stay up to date and advise your clients in less time. Practice notes help you quickly grasp key principles and yet drill down into underlying law when required. Family-law-specific commentary, forms and precedents help you work more efficiently and boost productivity.

Connect with us: