The Devil in the Detail: The Court Bundles Practice Direction and J v J  EWHC 3654
Alexander Chandler, barrister at 1 King’s Bench Walk considers the Implications of the Court Bundles Practice Direction in the light of Mostyn J’s judgment in J v J  EWHC 3654
“We stand on the cusp of history. 22 April 2014 saw the formal implementation of the largest reform of the family justice system any of us have seen or will see in our professional lifetimes… the Family Court came into existence and the Family Proceedings Court passed into history… [With the] implementation in private law children cases of the Child Arrangements Programme Taken as a whole, these reforms amount to a revolution. Central to this revolution has been – has had to be – a fundamental change in the cultures of the family courts. This is truly a cultural revolution…”
Sir James Munby, “The Family Justice Reforms”
PD 27A (“Family Proceedings: Court Bundles (Universal Practice…”)
With so much happening on 22 April 2014 (or ‘Year Zero’ as future legal historians may describe it) it was easy to overlook the coming into force of a revised Practice Direction dealing with court bundles.
At first glance, the new Practice Direction 27A seemed little changed from its predecessor save that:
1) It was now obligatory to prepare a paginated court bundle for all hearings, whereas previously hearings of 1 hour or less outside the High Court had been exempt (PD 27A, para. 2.1); and
2) There was, in force from 31 July 2014, a new provision that “…unless the court has specifically directed otherwise” the bundle should contain no more than 350 pages (PD 27A, para. 5.1).
Six weeks later, on 5 June 2014, Mr Justice Mostyn handed down guidance in High Court financial remedy claims 1 which stated that the court bundle must “…scrupulously comply with FPR PD 27A” 2 and that the 350 page limit included preliminary documents and skeleton arguments.
Practitioners might have assumed that, this being family law, the latter requirement would be more honoured in the breach than in the observance. If so, they will do well to read the judgment of Mostyn J in J v J  EWHC 3654 (Fam), in particular from para. 47 onwards, relating to court bundles.
Please click here for the full article in Family Law Week