Mackrell Turner Garrett

National Lawyers, Internationally

 

Bundles in the Family Court

 
 
 
White Collar Crime
 

As of 31 July 2014 there must be a bundle prepared for each and every court hearing in the Family Court. Prior to this date a bundle was only necessary if the hearing was listed for one hour or more. The court bundle must be set out in certain way and consist of only certain documents. Practice Direction (PD) 27A of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 states:-

The bundle shall contain copies of only those documents which are relevant to the hearing and which it is necessary for the court to read or which will actually be referred to during the hearing.

Items such as bank statements, medical records, police disclosure and correspondence must not be included unless specifically directed by the court. There is a caveat within the PD that says that the above items should not be included unless they going to be specifically referred to in the hearing – so, presumably, if there is a document you want to refer the judge to that can be included. This has left us all in a state of confusion and is a problem we are now dealing with on a regular basis.

The PD also requires that the court bundle, yes bundle not bundles! consist of one lever arch file containing no more than 350 pages, no matter what kind of hearing it is. If you wish to file at court anything more than this you must get specific authority by the judge to do so prior to the date of the hearing.

The courts now expect complete compliance with PD27A and the likes of Mostyn J in J V J [2014] EWHC 2654 (Fam), Holman J in Seagrove V Sullivan [2014] EWHC 4110 (Fam) and Mumby J in Re L (A Child) [2015] EWFC 15 have spent significant time in the judgments complaining about the length of the court bundles. The President in Re L has sanctioned the naming and shaming of offenders, financial penalties and even the destruction of the documents by the court staff. Gone are the days when we can turn up to court with three hearing bundles containing all the relevant documents on the case.