A bundle of fun?

A bundle of fun?

I know, I know, court bundles seem like such a dull topic but who can forget Re X and Y (bundles) (failure to comply with Practice Direction) [2008] EWHC 2058 (Fam), [2009] 1 FCR 468, a decision of Munby J no less (as he then was) when he said:

‘This continuing failure by the professions to comply with their obligations [in relation to bundles] is simply unacceptable. Enough is enough. Eight years of default are enough. Eight years are surely long enough for even the most casual practitioner to have learned to do better.’

Frequently delegated to a junior member of staff, the importance of bundles is often underestimated. Consider the bundle as the backbone of any hearing: without a properly collated bundle both you and the court will regularly stumble. And think about how it looks to your client when the judge grumbles about the state/lack of/size of the bundle rather than focusing on the issues important to them. I still recall (with horror…) a hearing many years ago when each of the bundles had been paginated individually (rather than by paginating the master copy before photocopying), so much time wasted when each bundle had a different page 63 (and 68, and 72…).

The requirements for bundles changed with effect from 22 April 2014. What follows is a fairly detailed look at Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010), PD 27A, if you are not preparing a bundle any time soon (although you may be sooner than you think...) think of it as a ‘cut out and keep guide’ but remember these points:

  • bundles are now required for every hearing including directions, save where the hearing is urgent and it is impossible to comply with the practice direction
  • for some hearings a complete bundle may not be necessary (but there isn’t a lot of guidance on that in the practice direction…)
  • the consequences of not complying with the practice direction may be an adjournment, being pushed back in the list,

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About the author:

Geraldine is Head of LexisPSL Family. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1992 and was in practice for 15 years, most recently as a partner and head of the family team at Hart Brown, a large Surrey firm.

Geraldine writes for Butterworths Family Law Service and is a past editor of the Resolution Review. She has been published in the New Law Journal, the Law Society Gazette and the District Judges’ Bulletin as well as in the national press including the Times and the Telegraph.

When in practice she was a member of the Law Society Family and Children Panels, and an accredited Resolution Specialist with a focus on advanced financial provision and pensions. A past Resolution regional secretary and press officer, Geraldine also contributed chapters to the Resolution publications, International Aspects of Family Law (3rd Edition 2009) and The Modern Family (2012).