BUNDLES: A QUICK REMINDER: SEDLEY’S LAW OF DOCUMENTS STILL APPLIES WITH SURPRISING REGULARITY
Over the past fortnight I have seen every one of Sedley’s Laws of Documents in action. This has prompted me to set out a quick reminder. Firstly of the Practice Direction and secondly of Sedley’s laws themselves. The “Laws” were written by a very experienced judge. It is not difficult to understand how he came to write them. The cases set out the “Related Posts” section below show numerous cases where judges have commented on the trial bundles.
I also recommend that everyone reads Trial bundles: why they are important and how to get them right by District Judge Waterworth which sets out the importance of a good trial bundle.
THE PRACTICE DIRECTION
Everything you need to know is set out in Practice Direction 39A.
“Bundles of documents for hearings or trial
3.1 Unless the court orders otherwise, the claimant must file the trial bundle not more than 7 days and not less than 3 days before the start of the trial.
3.2 Unless the court orders otherwise, the trial bundle should include a copy of:
(1) the claim form and all statements of case,
(2) a case summary and/or chronology where appropriate,
(3) requests for further information and responses to the requests,
(4) all witness statements to be relied on as evidence,
(5) any witness summaries,
(6) any notices of intention to rely on hearsay evidence under rule 32.2,
(7) any notices of intention to rely on evidence (such as a plan, photograph etc.) under rule 33.6 which is not –
(a) contained in a witness statement, affidavit or experts report,
(b) being given orally at trial,
(c) hearsay evidence under rule 33.2,
(8) any medical reports and responses to them,
(9) any experts’ reports and responses to them,
(10) any order giving directions as to the conduct of the trial, and
(11) any other necessary documents.
3.3 The originals of the documents contained in the trial bundle, together with copies of any other court orders should be available at the trial.
3.4 The preparation and production of the trial bundle, even where it is delegated to another person, is the responsibility of the legal representative5 who has conduct of the claim on behalf of the claimant.
3.5 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.
3.6 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 bundles.
3.7 For convenience, experts’ reports may be contained in a separate bundle and cross referenced in the main bundle.
3.8 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.
3.9 The contents of the trial bundle should be agreed where possible. The parties should also agree where possible:
(1) that the documents contained in the bundle are authentic even if not disclosed under Part 31, and
(2) 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.
3.10 The party filing the trial bundle should supply identical bundles to all the parties to the proceedings and for the use of the witnesses.”
SEDLEY’S LAW OF DOCUMENTS
These were written by Sedley LJ.
First Law: Documents may be assembled in any order, provided it is not chronological, numerical or alphabetical.
Second Law: Documents shall in no circumstances be paginated continuously.
Third Law: No two copies of any bundle shall have the same pagination.
Fourth Law: Every document shall carry at least three numbers in different places.
Fifth Law: Any important documents shall be omitted.
Sixth Law: At least 10 percent of the documents shall appear more than once in the bundle.
Seventh Law: As many photocopies as practicable shall be illegible, truncated or cropped.
At least 80 percent of the documents shall be irrelevant.
Counsel shall refer in court to no more than 10 percent of the documents, but these may include as many irrelevant ones as counsel or solicitor deems appropriate.
Ninth Law: Only one side of any double-sided document shall be reproduced.
Tenth Law: Transcriptions of manuscript documents shall bear as little relation as reasonably practicable to the original.
Eleventh Law: Documents shall be held together, in the absolute discretion of the solicitor assembling them, by:
a steel pin sharp enough to injure the reader,
a staple too short to penetrate the full thickness of the bundle.
tape binding so stitched that the bundle cannot be fully opened, or,
a ring or arch-binder, so damaged that the two arcs do not meet.
WIT AND HUMOUR ARISING OUT OF EXASPERATION?
There are further and supplemental parts of the Laws that require consideration have a look at Employment Tribunal Claims by Naomi Cunningham and Michael Reed for additional comments.
“A further law: If any portion of any document is of particular importance to any issue in the case, that portion shall be highlighted, before copying, in a dark colour so that after copying it is rendered as nearly illegible as is reasonably practicable.”
The comments also reveal some controversy as the law (there may be doctrinal differences in years to come).
“A note that this account is missing the Eighth law, and (ah, the irony!) the 8th and following in this list are therefore misnumbered.
The Eighth law is:
“Significant passages shall be marked with a highlighter that goes black when photocopied”.”
- Bundles in the Supreme Court: exercising restraint
- Babies, bundles, human rights, proportionality, conduct and costs: all in one judgment
- What they don’t teach you at law school VIII: bundles, courtesy & mints.
- Bundles, exhibits and pagination: avoiding costly mistakes
- The Supreme Court considers the question of expensive bundles
- Another comment on bundles: too much and too big
- Promiscuity and bundles: can cause consternation.
- Trial bundles: Timing, Contents & Presentation: and do you know “Sedley’s Laws” ?
- Trial bundles. Sedley’s Laws and Documentary Carpet Bombing.
- Troublesome bundles yet again.
- Proportionality, bundles and £3 million spent on costs.
- When bundles & sanctions collide.
- More on Bundles: there is much time and money to be saved yet.
- Lengthy bundles and interim costs.
- Get bundles and skeletons to court or else.
- Relief from sanctions: Bundles: Expert evidence and litigants in person.
- Costs, proportionality and getting the bundles right.
- “Madness” over costs and useless trial bundles.
- More about trial bundles: Most of the stuff in them is useless (apparently).
- Bundles, appeals and the art of advocacy: Are poor bundles letting down your case?
- Useless Bundles; lengthy skeletons and judicial ire.
- A word about bundles: More views from the Bench.
- Trial Bundles: Another view from the Bench.
- The Importance of Trial Bundles again: Read Legal Orange.
- Yet more on bundles
- More comments from the Court of Appeal on Bundles.
- Useless bundles: all litigation life is here.
- More on bundles: very difficult to use