BUNDLES AND PAGINATION CAN BE THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES: ADVICE FROM ACROSS THE PROFESSION

I didn’t mean to start another “crowd sourcing” blog post so soon. However the post yesterday on the changes to the rules as to to bundles started an unexpected furore. The preparation of bundles has always been a big part of this blog.  I may have missed some of the contributions out accidentally (not everyone follows the thread).  Not all the contributions here are wholly serious but I did remove the tweet that said “remember to put all Part 36 offers into the bundle – you just never know how seriously people take these things.  The thread is still ongoing and it is worthwhile looking at this (and the various sub-threads) on Twitter.

THE APPEAL

OK nice lawyers (& others) of Twitter. I wasn’t going to impose again so quickly, however a rule change this week makes this very apposite. What advice would you give to young lawyers about bundles & pagination? Have you any horror stories about bundles you can share?

THE REALITY

Trial Bundle (n) “A collection of mainly irrelevant and poorly-photocopied pages, in a defective lever-arch file, the relevant parts of which are added as the trial progresses.”

Based on the bundle I am currently working through, ensure the pagination is as close to the margin as possible. That way the copies can cut off the last digit. After page 1699, page 170, 170, 170, 1704, 170, 170 .

THE JUDICIAL VIEW

How many times is the judge referred to the Listing questionnaires or Pre trial checklists in civil trials? How often are we referred to the voluminous guidance notes on a C100? Leave them out!! And any other standard docs which contain no evidence. Please!

THE SILKY VIEW

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE  OTHER NICE PEOPLE OF  TWITTER

  1. Paperless, electronic and including only those documents that are necessary AND permitted.

    Please, please paginate exhibits rather than giving each document a cover page. Telling a judge to turn to ‘exhibit xy9’ is worse than useless.

    In long running cases with multiple bundles over time, don’t repaginate documents from the earlier bundles. Having 2 or 3 different numbers on each page is super confusing (yes, I have tripped over this one in court)

    When a lever arch file arrives already broken, counsel will do a lot of cursing. It turns out I have a lot of issues around bundles.

    The correspondence doesn’t need a tab for each and every email. Please god. ‘If your honour could turn to tab 278’ *judicial sigh*

    Don’t ever be the person who says “my page B25” all the way through the hearing. If you are out of step with everyone else, use the index and fix it.

    If the judge has specifically told you to comply with the PD, then do it, but don’t then produce a case summary with suggested reading which tells the judge to read *all* of the documents you’ve removed.

    Use electronic bundling software. Makes it easy to add pages, take them out, move them around, re-number, circulate electronic bundles so they can be checked before you print half a dozen copies.

    I’m going to @ . I’ve used it for a couple of years and it really has been a game changer. Saves lots of time.

    I do know a tale of a solicitor in high profile, multi party litigation who ended up including a photocopy of their daughter’s (quite lengthy) Christmas wish list in the bundles. Though the story has grown in its embellishment with each telling…

    The most important thing on the spine is the letter/number. Not your firm’s name/address or the thirty-six parties in the case. Advocates often have very little time to pick the right bundle out, whilst being asked difficult questions! Make it easy to find! 👓

    You’re obviously not from the marketing department 😂😉

    Do ensure that the most difficult submission you have to make also requires at least 3 bundles to be open at once. Although the actual provision is obscure, it is common knowledge that the CPR provides for interest on your judgment award, if you get 5 bundles simultaneously open.

    When asking your junior to prepare court bundles remember how long they take to do… Copiers have a tendency to break down when most needed. Also, don’t keep harassing the junior asking “are they done yet”… it adds nothing to the process except unnecessary stress.

    And a beautifully prepared bundle can set your application off on the right foot… new file, fresh tabs, a good index and pagination that is clear (don’t put the number too far into the corner or it may not copy properly).

    Replying to 

    Those who do not line up hole punches consistently through the bundle should be shot at dawn.

    Hide the page numbers in random locations on the page. Failing that, so close to the bottom right corner that they are lost when photocopying.

    Ideally, print continuous pagination numbers over the internal pagination of each individual document, for the perfect indeterminate smudge.

    Too many to recount. The same obvious errors over and over and over. Everyone has a subtly different bundle, a few pages out. Colour photographs have been photocopied in black and white and can’t be seen. Best argument for going paperless I guess.

    Treat the judges with absolute respect and don’t talk too slowly… 😉

    You are being very careful Paul…

    When you are a trainee or NQ, take time to visit on site print staff. Having a good relationship with them where they know you will likely pay off big time, plus it’s good manners and friendly. (Also applies more senior if you move)

    My area was employment, where there are more unrepresented claimants and also deadlines are a bit more ‘bendy’. Do not paginate too early. I know you want to be organised, but no judge likes page 64t.

    Page turn. Yes it’s dull. Yes you’ll struggle to bill it. But it’s amazing how often a feeder sucks two pages through together and misses one. It WILL be the judge’s copy.

    Think about how to handle emails. Employment law tends to create a lot of email evidence. An original email can end up in a bundle dozens of times as the reply trail grows and branches. Liaise with your opposite number to avoid this where possible.

    What have you started, bundles are a nightmare for all concerned. Recently had a case where the Judge returned his bundle to update for the next hearing, when I opened it the first page was a copy of The Times crossword- completed!

    And ask someone else to check it, because your eyes will have gone all wonky.

    I have often suspected that when preparing the bundle for defendant’s counsel, it is traditional to misalign every page, cut off the page numbers and then take a mallet to the lever arches.

    If it makes you feel any better, Richard, please read my thread. You’re definitely not singled out.

    This is something that must now be taught. Hitherto it has just happened by accident.

    Don’t use/re-use folders with metal corner guards that have morphed into concealed blades – “Peaky Folders”? Especially, if you’re a solicitor, don’t send them to your own Counsel – this is a grudge I’ve harboured for years; not directed at anyone who’s instructed me recently.

    I had pliers on my desk to remove them without injury. Nobody ever noticed.

    Check. The. Duplex.

    Make sure it complies with Directions. If (in immigration) your objective bundle doesn’t have a key passage index, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll spend your morning writing it out by hand.

    Bubble wrap the lever-arch files inside the front cover and around the outside for the copies going to the Judge and witness box. The Defendant’s copy, well I leave that to your discretion 😁

    1. Never number backsheets in pleading bundles 2. Provide an index to the pleading bundle to the other side and not a numbered copy. 3. Sit back and enjoy the desperation of the other side’s counsel as he repeatedly directs the judge to the wrong page in the pleading bundle

    Bin the backsides too. What purpose do they serve. [I am assuming Tim was referring to “backsheets” rather than “backsides” & spellchecker took over]

    As an advocate, write the number of the bundle on the inside of the front cover (as well as on the spine and front), so that when you have several open at once you can quickly identify which is which, without having to turn them over

    They will take significantly longer to prepare than you could possibly have envisaged, but you won’t recover anywhere near that time when it comes to costs!

    I recall a Fast Track Trial in which a man of quite large stature was seeking damages following an accident. The judge, my opponent and I all found that our bundles tended to fall open at the page bearing a photograph of his heavily bruised naked backside, as if by magic!

    Respect the poor clerk/legal assistant/paralegal who made them. Too many people seem to think that bundles are easy – really they are not! Getting them right is an utterly under-appreciated art.

    If you run out of lever arch file colours, experience tells me that referring the Judge to the Star Wars bundle will gain you and your client extra credit.

    Number BEFORE you photocopy…

    I once received a bundle from the other side (not a civil litigation matter) entirely paginated in Roman numerals. And to top it off, they’d got them wrong.

    Electronic bundles are a dream…

    Delegate it to someone else😂. If you can’t make sure all documents in your master copy are in date order, colour dividers are used for court orders, statements, etc. Copy bundle required for each party, witness box & judge. Number bundles of more than 1 .

    All stories about bundles are horror stories. They are the only type.

    Including the entire disclosure or correspondence file in reverse chronological order means trial counsel will have to spend time untangling what is relevant. That is time they could have spent on strengthening their arguments or legal research.

     14 hours ago

    Case details (parties, claim no etc) on a label stuck to the top left inside corner of the front of the lever arch file (when it is open) – judges seem to like that. Memorize your bundle and pagination so you can point the judge to a document without faffing with the index.

     

    Pagination is a word they will ever use in normal life! I’ve tried! And look like an idiot! Not advice. But true.

    The theory: Insert a new witness statement into existing bundle without disturbing page numbers The practice: “Turn to bundle 2, page C168BX-168CH

    It’s the stuff of nightmares. We used to refer to one judge as Judge Bundle – I had to think for a moment there to recall his real name.

    Only put legible documents in bundles (or explain why an illegible one is relevant), don’t rely on colour for meaning, think about what’s relevant for the hearing you’re doing (not every doc in the case), ask a colleague to check your index for sanity before copying. 1/2

     

    Have the bundle number in large font so it can be read by middles aged eyesight at a metre. Also have bundle number on the inside of the front of the lever arch so with bundle open you know what it is. Boring but getting this stuff right is the bedrock of good advocacy.

    Don’t overstuff lever arch files! I’m not sure there’s anything more annoying in this job than the dreaded “lever arch file metal bits don’t meet anymore” – I had a file do this in the middle of cross examination once, and it made it so difficult.

    Ensure your solicitors ALWAYS bring at least one extra copy of the bundle to court, particularly in the County Court, as the chances of the one they filed being with the judge are not high.

    There are *always* further docs produced/generated at court during trial. Adding these to the ‘right’ section as you go can be a nightmare. Can be helpful, with judicial permission (usually given) to start an ongoing ‘Section X’ for these. Easy to use and v handy for future ref.

    Scan documents as they come to you during a matter. Use a standardised file naming convention. Time consuming at first but pays off closer to trial because you can use bundling software to quickly and easily construct digital bundles when time is at a premium pre-trial.

    I’m for D at trial. My opponent had just called C into the witness box when it emerged that her sols had prepared trial bundles for both counsel and the judge but….not one for the witnesses. It led to the adjournment of the trial. Solicitor to pay costs…