E-Bundling: The Basics
- Virtually all cases during the currency of the COVID-19 pandemic will now take place remotely, using either telephone or video conferencing.
- In both cases, in order for hearings to go ahead, a good e-bundle will be required. It must be borne in mind that judges will not have access to the Court File if working remotely. Everyone will be reliant on the e-bundle during the hearing.
- Given that e-bundling will be new to many lawyers litigating matters in the County Court, practitioners will need to quickly adapt.
- Until more detailed national guidance is issued for the civil courts, it is suggested that practitioners will not go far wrong following these steps. They have been comprised by compiling the common features of the Supreme Court guidance*, Mostyn J’s e-bundle protocol**, and also features of regional guidance provided by HHJJ Bird, Wood QC and Gosnell respectively:
- The e-bundle should be a single PDF document.
- The e-bundle should be delivered via a cloud-based link (e.g. iCloud, OneDrive, Dropbox or Google Drive), rather than in a series of emails.
- The bundle must be paginated in ascending order, preferably by section and page number i.e. A1, A2, A3 … B1, B2, B3, etc.
- The e-bundle must have an index page. The index page must be hyperlinked to the pages referred to.
- Index pages and any authorities should be numbered. Every page within the e-bundle must have a page number.
- The e-bundle should be kept as short as is reasonably possible. Extracts from documents, rather than entire documents, may be appropriate in certain cases.
- E-bundles should be agreed wherever possible. One single e-bundle is preferable to one from each side.
- The default display view size of all pages should be 100%.
- Text on all pages should be searchable and selectable. This will require OCR of all scanned documents.
- The bundle must be bookmarked. Bookmarks should be labelled indicating what document they are referring to and also display the relevant page numbers, for example Particulars of Claim [p.15-25]. Each document which is likely to be referred to should be separately bookmarked.
- All rules that apply to traditional bundles will continue to apply to e-bundles (e.g. CPR 39.5, Practice Direction 28, Practice Direction 32).
- This guidance is indicative only. Practitioners should check to ensure they are compliant with local directions and/or guidance in all cases.
- Software that allows for the manipulation of PDFs will be required. No recommendations are made as to what software should be used. There are many online guides already available addressing this issue.