PRACTICE NOTE: BUSINESS AND PROPERTY COURTS IN MANCHESTER: NO BUNDLE NO HEARING

 Below I reproduce a Practice Note issued Mr Justice Barling, Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster. It deals with a transition process up to the point where (later this year) parties can file all documents electronically in the Manchester Business and Property Courts. It comes into force on the 28th January 2019, so practitioners in those courts  – be prepared.

“PRACTICE NOTE

Introduction
1. From 28 January 2019, the Business and Property Courts in Manchester will commence using the new CE-File electronic court file and some data stored on the old IT system will be transferred to CE-File.
2. Court users will not be able to file documents electronically direct to the court file until the middle of 2019. This note is intended to govern the position in the intervening period.
3. From 28 January 2019 the court file, whether it is in electronic or paper form, will contain only those documents that the court is required to hold pursuant to the CPR, whether they are documents created by the court or lodged by the parties.
4. All claims issued on and after 28 January 2019 (“New Claims”) will be allocated a new style number. Claims issued prior to 28 January 2019 (“Old Claims”) will be given a new style claim number in place of the existing number on the first occasion a document is filed on or after 28 January 2019.
5. The old claim number will not be recognised by CE-File. It will only be necessary to provide the court with the old number where a payment out is to be made of funds paid into court prior to 28 January 2019.
New Claims
6. New claims will be managed as far as possible from the electronic file. All documents lodged with the court (other than those referred to in paragraphs 9 and 10 below) will be scanned to the electronic file and case management will be carried out using that file unless the volume of documents makes that impractical. If paper versions of documents are required a direction will be given to lodge further paper copies, usually in the form of a bundle.
7. The court will not maintain a paper file for New Claims. Paper documents lodged with the court, after having been scanned to the file, will be retained for a period of 6 months. They will be available only in the event that scanning errors need to be corrected. They will be destroyed at the end of the period.
8. The only exception will be original documents that are required to be lodged with the court pursuant to an order or a provision of the CPR (such as original wills). Original documents will be retained, as now, in a separate secure storage area. Original documents must be clearly marked as such with a front sheet marked in a font of not less than 14 point:
“CLAIM NO. XXXXXX
ORIGINAL DOCUMENT – NOT TO BE DESTROYED”
9. Exhibits to witness statements in Part 7 and Part 8 claims must not be filed with the witness statement. The filing party should provide an electronic version of the exhibit in pdf format at the same time as filing the witness statement.
Old Claims
10. Documents filed or created on or after 28 January 2019 will be retained only on CE-File. They will not be added to the paper file. As with New Claims, documents will be retained only for 6 months.
Hearing Bundles – Old and New Claims from 28 January 2019
11. From 28 January 2019 a hearing bundle will be required for every hearing, however short. A strict “No bundle, no hearing” policy will be adopted. If no bundle has been lodged, it is very likely the hearing will be adjourned to the next available date.
12. Responsibility for lodging the hearing bundle will normally fall on the applicant. This general rule will apply whether or not the applicant is a Litigant in Person unless the applicant is a Litigant in Person and a represented party has been directed by a judge or agreed in writing to assume responsibility for the production of the hearing bundle. The parties must co-operate with each other and all parties have responsibility for ensuring that the court receives a bundle lodged two clear days before the hearing, save where this is impossible due to the urgent nature of the hearing. Late service of documents is not a reason to delay lodging the bundle. If necessary, documents may be added to the bundle.
13. Exhibits should only include the essential documents. Correspondence should be exhibited only where there is a real need for the court to consider it and there is a real likelihood of it being referred to at a hearing. The provisions of paragraphs 9 and 10 will apply to Old and New claims from 28 January 2019
Form 149C (Notice of Provisional Allocation)
14. Form 149C (Notice of Provisional Allocation) requires the parties to lodge a range of documents. It will be the responsibility of the claimant to lodge a bundle containing the statements of case, the directions questionnaires and all associated documents within 5 working days of the deadline specified in Form 149C.
Witness Statements
15. Witness statements for trial and expert’s reports should never be filed, unless the court has expressly directed this.
General
16. Correspondence with the court, and documents to be lodged, must not be sent by more than one medium.
17. Where a court fee must be paid, the document should only be sent in paper form.
The Hon. Mr Justice Barling
Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster