I have been asked to assist Mr Fellows-Bennett in preparing a trial bundle by considering the following:
1. What is a trial bundle?
2. How is it used?
3. Which documents need to be included?
I provide my answers below for your consideration.
1.What is a trial bundle?
A trial bundle is the collection of all the relevant documents and evidence which the claimant and defendant will rely on during a trial. It is the responsibility of the claimant to prepare the bundle, ensuring that all necessary documents are included however the bundle is usually agreed with the defendant prior to any trial. It is also essential for the claimant to provide a copy of such documents to the court, the defendant, witnesses and all other parties such as each party's counsel.
In CPR 27.1 of the Practice Definitions, it is said the claimant must serve, “a paginated and indexed bundle of all the documents to be relied upon at the hearing with a schedule identifying the essential passages.”
Accordingly the documents should be placed in a ring binder and must be numbered so as to make information easily accessible when referred to at the hearing. It is also essential to include an index at the beginning of the bundle outlining page numbers and what information is provided on these pages. In a situation where the bundle exceeds 100 pages, dividers will be used to separate it into sections. In complex cases, it may be necessary to use several bundles. The documents will be filed in chronological order with oldest documents placed at the top and most recent at the bottom. This will be photocopied ensuring that all copies are fully legible so that the defendant, all witnesses and the legal representative's have an identical copy containing the same important documents as the claimant.
In order for the judge to be able to establish any facts and other important information, the trial bundle must be filed at the court no more than seven days but no less than three days before the hearing. The original documents which have been copied for the use of the bundle will also need to be available at the trial.
2.How is a bundle used?
A trial bundle is an important, time-saving method in preparing for a trial. The judge will be able to read all the documents/evidence provided prior to the hearing and should therefore have sufficient familiarity with the case and issues likely to be in dispute. It also gives all other parties the opportunity to read any evidence or precedents which have been collected.
It is important that the bundle is prepared appropriately being fully legible and identical to all other copies. It must be well organised as it is often referred to throughout the hearing.
3.Which documents need to be included?
In a trial bundle, it is important to include as much information as possible for the claimant and defendant to help their case. Any documents containing evidence supporting both the claimant and defendants point of view must be included. The documents included must be copies of the original documents. I have supplied a list of documents which may be included in the trial bundle:
Case summary and index
Claim forms and all statements of case
Requests for further information and any responses provided
Witness statements and summaries
Any other relevant documents
It is imperative to clearly mark the front of the trial bundle with:
The date and time of the hearing
The case number and title
The court where the hearing is being heard
The name of the judge (if known)
Where there is more than one ring binder used, it is important to number or label files in order A, B, C or D.
Certain documents can be withheld from the court and do not need to be included in the trial bundle. These documents are known as ‘privileged’ and in this case could be classed as a ‘litigation privilege’. This means that any