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Judge destruction of excessive threatens bundles

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Judge threatens destruction of excessive bundles – are modern courtroom methods a state of mind?


Despite the increased use of digital bundles, the sight of clerks wheeling trolleys of papers up Fleet Street towards the RCJ remains commonplace.

The unwillingness in some quarters to turn to modern courtroom methods has finally proved to much for one judge, who has said that lawyers failing to keep to practice directions on court bundles will see their excessive papers shredded without notice.

The salvo came from Judge Munby, writing in a judgment in a recent care proceedings case. With admirable restraint (given his evident exasperation) he wrote: “This practice must stop, and I have taken practical steps to stop it. From now on, counter-staff at court offices will be instructed to refuse to accept witness bundles, unless the judge has specifically directed that they are to be lodged, and to require whoever is trying to lodge them to take them away.”

In addition to seeing bundles destroyed, repeat offenders may well find themselves stiffed with a financial penalty.

As ever, there’s more to this than meets the eye – and of course the solution doesn’t simply lie in turning to legal tech and the use of digital bundles, which may lessen the physical burden of paperwork but still constitute large volumes of information to be shared and read.

In this case, legal tech could have helped prevent the vast burden of paperwork before it reached the stage of being brought to court, since the documentation (running to some 591 pages) included 23 pages of local authority applications, 32 pages of transcriptions of recordings, and 17 pages relating to the immigration status of another party.

The fact that one of those involved was Slovenian only served to complicate matters further, with all 591 pages being translated at significant cost and delay.

The case offers a useful example of why embedding the use of legal tech into the earliest stages of case preparation through to appearance in the courts is so essential. Utilising tech such as eDiscovery, digital translation software and digital bundle software is as much a state of mind as anything else: it’s not just about creating a streamlined digital end product, but about approaching cases with a determination to be selective about what information is used and shared.

The case that finally stripped Judge Munby of his patience should become increasingly rare – if lawyers are willing to adapt their practices. Embracing legal tech isn’t simply about transferring the same heaps of paper into digital information, but making the whole process faster, smarter and more streamlined.

At Legastat we are at the forefront of legal IT innovation, advising clients on how best to make sure they harness the power of legal tech, and build business fit to thrive in the twenty-first century (and, hopefully, avoid the wrath of Judge Munby).