SKELETON ARGUMENTS: GET THE FONT SIZE RIGHT, AND THE LENGTH CORRECT: OR IT COULD COST YOU
The Administrative Court Clerks Users Group has sent out an email to many chambers in relation to the format of skeleton arguments. If you did not receive this it is worth reading.
THE EMAIL: SIZE AND FONTS OF SKELETON ARGUMENTS
Slightly outside of our remit, however trying to relay important information to as many of you as possible.
Please be aware and more importantly make your members aware, that skeleton arguments lodged in the Court of Appeal, that don’t meet with the proper criteria of being, “not less than 12 point font” which also includes the footnotes, will not be accepted. This will result in an application (N244) having to be made, at a cost of £528, in which to correct the situation to enable this to be re-lodge but out of time.
PD 52C, para.31(1)(b)
(1) Any skeleton argument must comply with the provisions of Section 5 of Practice Direction 52A (and in particular must be concise) and must in any event–
(a) not normally exceed 25 pages (excluding front sheets and back sheets);
(b) be printed on A4 paper in not less than 12 point font and 1.5 line spacing (including footnotes);
(c) be labelled as applicable (e.g. appellant’s PTA skeleton, appellant’s replacement skeleton, respondent’s supplementary skeleton), and be dated on its front sheet.”
ADDENDUM: ERRATIC ENFORCEMENT – BUT IT DOES HAPPEN
Barrister Ben Williams noted on Twitter that
“The Civil Appeals Office has (albeit erratically rather than consistently) been rejecting skeletons where even a single footnote is not in 12 point or is single spaced, and requiring formal applications for relief from sanction.”
Barrister Jeffrey Jupp kindly sent me photographic evidence. NB the issue here was the footnotes and indented notes being single lined spaced.
That letter is truly remarkable.
All the PD says is that if a skele does not comply with para 31 the court may disallow costs of preparation (which I suppose a PD is entitled to do so long as it does not seek to fetter a judge’s discretion under SCA 1981 s 51). If court clerks think it gives them the right to turn away any skele (save perhaps if written on lavatory paper) they must surely think again?
It raises the more serious point – which I am addressing in writing – as to just how wide are the powers of a PD, which are – after all – very low in the precedent pecking order and often ultra vires anyway.
O God. I am a poor L.I.P. If you lot can’t agree what hope is there for me.