Important message from Dispute Resolution Committee Chair about electronic bundles for remote hearings

The Birmingham Law Society has been asked by HHJ Simon Barker QC and DJ Ingram to update members with regards to issues affecting remote hearings (which largely concerns (1) listed applications (eg summary judgment, security for costs, default judgment, relief from sanctions, disputed amendments and extensions of time), (2) CPR Part 8 directions, (3) CCMCs, and (4) urgent applications, which obviously have different document filing issues).

The key points that we have been asked to circulate to members are listed below:-

  • None of the BPC ticketed DJs at the BCJC is ticketed to work full time on BPC cases (this is being done on a rota with one BPC DJ taking a morning list and another the afternoon list).
  • For administrative reasons (including that HMCTS managers and staff are working on a skeleton rota basis) electronic bundles for the following day’s hearing generally do not reach the DJ until 4pm or later on the day before the hearing.
  • Many of the bundles have common problems which render them impractical to navigate, pre-read, or conduct a hearing from. In particular, they are not infrequently unnecessarily long (some have included exhibits exceeding 300 pages), unheaded/unlabelled, unpaginated, and/or without an index. Please refer to the Schedule regarding standard directions for electronic bundles to be used during the period of remote litigation caused by Covid-19.
  • Bundles must be kept succinct and as short as possible.  Without being prescriptive, we have been asked that all bundles for short/single issue hearings (30 minutes or less) to be limited to 50 pages and all bundles for longer hearings (including CCMCs) to be limited to 150 pages. Perhaps the way to view these bundles is as Core Bundles and these page limits as achievable targets.
  • Please ensure the following are adhered to:

1    The bundles should be paginated and indexed and contain only documents essential for the issue(s) live at the hearing.

2    The index should be a separate attachment from the bundle.

3    Whether the bundle is filed as 1 attachment or a series of sequential paginated attachments will vary according to length and ease of bundling; but, in all cases every attachment must have a subject heading and state the bundle pagination details of that attachment so that the DJ can select the relevant section and page(s) of the bundle.

4    In all cases the bundle should begin with a case summary (agreed, unless ex parte) which itself should state the issue(s) for the hearing.

5    Where the hearing is an application or short matter (30 minutes or less) the bundle should include and where possible be confined to:

  1. the application notice
  2. the witness statement evidence for the application which should be kept to the minimum necessary to state the facts relevant to the application
  3. any exhibits limited to documents and extracts from documents essential for the DJ’s consideration and determination of the hearing
  4. orders and statements of case, or extracts therefrom, essential for the DJ’s consideration and determination of the hearing.

6    Where the hearing is a CCMC or a longer matter the same principles should apply as for a short matter.

7    An illustration of the contents of a CCMC bundle is :

  1. case summary (agreed unless against litigant in person) and list of issue(s) for the hearing
  2. statements of case necessary for the CCMC
  3. previous orders relevant to any issue(s) live at the CCMC
  4. if costs budgeting is an issue, the budgets and the budget discussion reports
  5. for any listed application, a section conforming with 5 above
  6. any other document(s) essential to the DJ’s consideration and determination of the hearing.

8    A draft of the Order sought (Word format), must be included preferably as a separate and subject headed attachment.

9    Correspondence may be included only if and to the extent essential to the DJ’s consideration and determination of the hearing (this should be the exception rather than the rule).

10  Skeleton arguments, authorities (headnotes for cases and essential extracts), and costs schedules should be filed separately and each filing should have a subject heading.

  • Please note that there is a risk that some hearings may be adjourned or dismissed (with additional risk of an adverse costs order) if parties continue to file unduly lengthy, unindexed, unpaginated, and/or irrelevant bundle, (and some have faced 500+ page unindexed, unpaginated, and largely irrelevant bundles).

HHJ Barker and DJ Ingram wish to convey that the aim is to have the most efficient and effective litigation service reasonably available in the present circumstances and any and all communication which enhances that must be beneficial. Therefore, if anyone wishes to raise any issues (both positive and negative) which would be beneficial to remote hearings at the BBPC during this unprecedented period, please contact Sophie Samani (Birmingham Law Society) (sophie@hendersonandjones.com), or alternatively HHJ Barker and DJ Ingram direct.

Sophie Samani
Chair, Dispute Resolution Committee
Birmingham Law Society

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