COVID REPEATS 17: SEDLEY’S LAW OF DOCUMENTS
It was clearly his extensive experience with trial bundles that led Sedley L.J. to write “Sedley’s Laws of Documents”. These are laws that should be considered, in detail, by every litigator. For many, many years, a post I wrote on trial bundles was the most read post on this blog (it remains in the “top 10”).
“ 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.”
SEDLEY’S LAWS OF DOCUMENTS
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 the Law at http://etclaims.co.uk/2008/09/sedleys-laws-of-documents/ and note the very witty additional comments. My favourite is
“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.”