New guidance on electronic court bundles

30th November 2021

On 29th November 2021, the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary published new guidance in relation to electronic court bundles (e-bundles) for court hearings. The November 2021 guidance replaces the previous guidance published in May 2020, and is subject to any specific guidance or directions provided from courts for individual cases. It will therefore be necessary to check the court directions carefully for the specific rules applicable to your case.

Lauren Karmel, a pupil barrister in our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence teams provides some important requirements in the absence of any particular directions:

  1. Page numbers must be computer-generated. The page numbering should start at page 1 for the first page of the bundle, whether or not this is part of an index. The page numbering must follow through to the last page of the e-bundle to ensure that pagination numbers match the pdf numbering. The same applies for hard copy bundles. This is vital advice to notice and heed. It makes judges cross when the number written on the page is not the same as the number within the pdf file, and it makes life harder for everyone involved in finding their way around the bundle.
  2. Each entry in the index must be hyperlinked to the indexed document. All significant documents and all sections in the e-bundle must be bookmarked. The bookmark must contain a short description of what the document is, and should contain the page number of the document.
  3. All pages of the e-bundle must be subject to OCR (optical character recognition).
  4. Thought should be given to the number of bundles required. It is usually better to have a single hearing e-bundle and where appropriate, a separate single authorities e-bundle, rather than multiple bundles.
  5. In the event an e-bundle needs to be added to after having been provided to the Judge, new pages should be added to the end of the bundle, and paginated accordingly. An enquiry should be made of the Court as to the best way of providing the additional material. The Judge should be provided with both the new pages of the bundle, as well as the revised bundle. Hopefully this will mean that even if there are different iterations of the bundle, the addition of something does not change all of the page numbers.

This guidance will undoubtedly make navigation around e-bundles far easier during court hearings. It is a common occurrence for e-bundle pagination numbers to be different from pdf numbering. This can often be because indexes are added to e-bundles after the e-bundle has already been paginated. Of importance is the requirement for e-bundles to be subject to OCR, particularly as e-bundles can contain copies of original documents which are not text-searchable, rather than the original documents themselves which would have been text-searchable. The guidance also provides links to online videos which provide information as to combining multiple PDF’s, pagination, book marking and text recognition.

Lauren Karmel, who is in her second 6 months of pupillage is available for court and paperwork. Please contact her clerks for further information.