As part of our divorce advice series we discuss what the phrase bundle means.
In preparation for your court case, you might hear your solicitor mention ‘the bundle’. A bundle, in legal terms, is a collection of documents that contain the key information about your case, including any forms you have completed and any evidence that may be required by the court for your hearing. It is prepared for the judge by the applicant’s solicitor (unless the applicant is a ‘litigant in person’, with no legal representation, in which case there is an expectation that they must prepare it themselves), so that the judge can see what evidence there is to substantiate the case being brought.
There are rules about what you can put into the bundle and what you must leave out. If there are items that your legal team wish to refer to during the court case that are not normally permitted (particular financial documents or pieces of correspondence for example) they have to apply for permission from the judge to include them before the bundle is prepared.
Preparing the bundle involves going through everything about your case and picking out the relevant information and the evidence that your solicitor will refer to during the hearing to make your case before the judge. It’s therefore crucial that it is done properly. Depending on the complexity of your case, it can be a time-consuming and difficult task. In fact, in a recent case in the Court of Appeal reported in the Law Society Gazette, Lady Justice Black expressed her frustration that litigants in person either didn’t provide the court with a bundle or when they did, that the bundle was incomplete. Their lack of experience and their struggle to understand the process was a cause of confusion, frustration and delay.
When you are involved in litigation, it’s important that you keep all of your divorce notes, forms, correspondence and anything else relevant to the case. It may be, as you hear so often on the television, something you later want to rely on in court. Any documents that you receive (and particularly if you do not start out with a solicitor but decide to seek legal advice further on in the process), you should share with your solicitor so he or she can make informed decisions about what is relevant and necessary. Having a legal expert on your side means you can rely on their knowledge and familiarity with the process and their understanding of what needs to be included.
Once the vast amount of accumulated paperwork has been sifted through and the bundle has been prepared, the pages have to be numbered and an index created. The index is shared with the respondent’s solicitors, who can request that additional items are added if they so wish. Once everything is finalised, the bundle is copied and given to the judge; copies can also be made available to the respondent by agreement.
If you have any questions about this, or need any other divorce advice, please do not hesitate to contact Andrew Isaacs Solicitors.