HOW CAN YOUR BARRISTER HELP YOU AS A LITIGANT IN PERSON
GUIDANCE ON THE PREPARATION OF A COURT BUNDLE
RESPONSIBILITY OF A LITIGANT IN PERSON
Important Note: Please note that this information is not intended to be legal advice. You are advised to seek legal advice.
This information provides an overview on the preparation of a court bundle.
Responsibility of a Litigant in Person
Litigants in person are responsible for complying with court orders, and it is imperative that you read the order of court carefully, so that you fully understand what each party is required to do and ensure you comply in a timely manner with each direction.
Usual practice, it is the responsibility of the applicant to prepare the bundle. However, if that person is a litigant in person, it is the responsibility of the respondent if they are not a litigant in person.
Where all the parties are litigants in person none of them shall, unless the court otherwise directs, be obliged to provide a bundle but they ought to submit their evidence in a bundle to assist the court with navigating their evidence in support of their case.
Court bundles are fundamental to family court proceedings as they contain important information (evidence upon which the parties rely) that relate to a particular dispute. The court order would normally provide directions on whether a bundle is required, who is responsible for preparing the bundle, what should be included in the bundle and the timetable for preparing and lodging the bundle.
Where neither party is represented by a lawyer, the court may ask the parties to prepare their own bundle and serve on each other and file (send to) at court before the hearing.
Where there is a solicitor acting for a party, and the other party is unrepresented, the court practice is to require the solicitor to prepare the bundle. The litigant in person will need to send their bundle to be added to the main court bundle.
Where parties do not agree to adding certain documents to the joint bundle and the document is not sought in the court order but one party wants to add that document into the bundle, then they will need to seek the court’s permission and the court will hear from the parties and decide whether it should be admitted.
Rules on the Preparation of a Court Bundle
As a litigant in person, you ought to have regard to the Family Procedure Rules Practice Direction 27A which provides guidance on preparation of court bundles. A court bundle contains copies of all the documents, which are considered relevant to a court case.
Contents and Format of Court Bundle
The bundle shall be contained in one or more A4 size ring binders or lever arch files (each lever arch file being limited to 350 pages unless court directs otherwise).
All documents in a bundle must be clearly paginated, usually on the right-hand side on the foot of the page.
A court bundle should have an index to assist the court and parties to navigate through the bundle during the hearing. An index is a list, which is included at the beginning of the bundle that sets out what is in the bundle and specifically where each document can be located
The documents in the bundle shall be divided into separate sections (each section being separately paginated and in chronological order (earliest first)) as follows:
A. preliminary documents (see below) and any other case management documents required by any other practice directions;
B. applications and orders;
C. witness statements of each party
D. experts’ reports and other reports (including those of a guardian, children’s guardian or litigation friend); and
E. other documents, divided into further sections as may be appropriate.
Chambers of Helen Alexander-Direct Public Access-Family Court Barrister