Civil Bundles: Worse Than Ever?

Bundles have always been the bane of the civil lawyer’s life. 10 different courts, 10 different approaches, and 10 shades of adherence to the CPR.

From 6th April this year, the rules changed for the worse better. If you are preparing for a trial under the CPR, you should take a look at the new practice direction 32 which can be found here.

The change we MUST be aware of is that unless the court orders otherwise, bundles should be copied double sided. The full text is pasted below:

1) After paragraph 27.2, insert—
Rule 39.5 provides that unless the court orders otherwise, the claimant must file a
trial bundle containing documents required by—
(a) a relevant practice direction; and
(b) any court order.
Rule 39.5 provides that the claimant must file the trial bundle not more than 7
days and not less than 3 days before the start of the trial.
Unless the court orders otherwise, the trial bundle should include a copy of—
(a) the claim form and all statements of case;
(b) a case summary and/or chronology where appropriate;
(c) requests for further information and responses to the requests;
(d) all witness statements to be relied on as evidence;
(e) any witness summaries;
(f) any notices of intention to rely on hearsay evidence under rule 32.2;
(g) any notices of intention to rely on evidence (such as a plan, photograph
etc.) under rule 33.6 which is not—
(i) contained in a witness statement, affidavit or experts’ report;
(ii) being given orally at trial; and
(iii) hearsay evidence under rule 33.2;
(h) any medical reports and responses to them;
(i) any experts’ reports and responses to them;
(j) any order giving directions as to the conduct of the trial; and
(k) any other necessary documents.
The originals of the documents contained in the trial bundle, together with copies
of any other court orders should be available at the trial.
The preparation and production of the trial bundle, even where it is delegated to
another person, is the responsibility of the legal representative who has conduct of
the claim on behalf of the claimant. If the claimant is unrepresented, the court may
direct that another party must prepare and produce the trial bundle.
The trial bundle should be paginated (continuously) throughout, and indexed with
a description of each document and the page number. Where the total number of
pages is more than 100, numbered dividers should be placed at intervals between
groups of documents.
The bundle should normally be contained in a ring binder or lever arch file. Where
more than one bundle is supplied, they should be clearly distinguishable, for
example, by different colours or letters. If there are numerous bundles, a core
bundle should be prepared containing the core documents essential to the
proceedings, with references to the supplementary documents in the other
For convenience, experts’ reports may be contained in a separate bundle and
cross referenced in the main bundle.
If a document to be included in the trial bundle is illegible, a typed copy should be
included in the bundle next to it, suitably cross-referenced.
The contents of the trial bundle should be agreed where possible. The parties
should also agree where possible—
(a) that the documents contained in the bundle are authentic even if not
disclosed under Part 3; and
(b) that documents in the bundle may be treated as evidence of the facts
stated in them even if a notice under the Civil Evidence Act 1995 has not
been served.
Where it is not possible to agree the contents of the bundle, a summary of the
points on which the parties are unable to agree should be included.
The party filing the trial bundle should supply identical bundles to all the parties to
the proceedings and for the use of the witnesses.
Unless the court otherwise directs, contemporaneous documents in the trial
bundle relied on by the parties or either of them should be assembled as a single
unit in chronological order of creation.
Unless the court otherwise directs, documents in the trial bundle should be copied

Readers of my other posts will know that I try, as far as possible, to look at things from a practical point of view. So, what does this mean for those who are preparing bundles?

In the first instance, it may be that you do not have the equipment (photocopier etc.) to actually produce a double sided bundle. It may be necessary to invest in new machinery that can deal with the latest requirements.

Inevitably, there are going to be occasions where those individuals who are asked to photocopy bundles will miss that there are now two sides to copy. If you are responsible for signing off on documents leaving your firm and going to the court, you may want to be extra vigilant when checking bundles are properly prepared before being shipped to court.

In this transition period, as with all changes to the administrative provisions of the CPR, it is hoped that the court will take a practical and proportionate view if bundles have been sent in single sided. However, never assume that it will be acceptable to not adhere 100% to the rules.

If a case is ongoing, or is returning to court where a bundle exists from previous hearings, a sensible approach will be a letter to the court in advance, asking for permission to produce a single-sided bundle in the old style. My own experience is that judges in Kent are allowing single-sided bundles in court at present in existing matters with new hearings rather than forcing parties to the trouble and expense of preparing new, double-sided papers.

The old adage comes to mind- if in doubt, ask (the court!)

For help with preparing for court hearings, contact