You’ve sent your court form off, paid the court fee, the court has stamped it and given it a case number, sending it back to you with a date and time to be at court. There will be lots of other information in there, so read it all.
Let’s not kid ourselves though. This is tricky stuff and you are out of your comfort zone, unless you are a solicitor yourself. Plus, life and work is going on all around you. You know you have to look at it but…..
Well, if you don’t look at it and comply with the court rules, it can put you at a serious disadvantage and sometimes result in you having to pay the costs of the other party. At best, you are not getting your point of view across effectively. At worst, you are causing delay to a very busy judge who is not there to give you legal advice.
A bundle of papers has to be prepared before any court hearing in the Family Court. It has to be in the right format, in the right order and with the correct supplemental/summary documentation at the front. Why? To narrow the issues and focus on what the court needs to look at. This saves time and in turn costs. The judge will only know what is in the documentation on the court file and on that point, in many cases, the judge will not have the court file and will only have the bundle of papers that are prepared. Again, why? Well, we had a bit of a shuffle around in the Family Court and so there are main ‘hubs’ where case files are kept but hearings at any number of court venues administered by the main ‘hub’. Moving a big court file around the system is asking for trouble. The court is still mainly paper based (more on that in a later blog) and there is A LOT of paperwork generated. Moving it around the system is expensive, can delay matters and runs the risk of being lost in the system, hence bundles are required.
The rules about preparing bundles for court hearings have been around for a while and there are several cases reported in the law reports of senior judges (including the head judge of the Family Court – The President) making it very plain that the rules HAVE to be complied with. Fail to do so at your peril. We are due to have a slight change in the rules as of 23 July 2018. The changes tighten up the requirements and put some page limits on documents to be sent it. The basic thrust remains the same. Bundles are needed before a court hearing. It is the job of the applicant’s solicitor and if none, the respondent’s solicitor and if none, the applicant themselves. There is some understanding that if neither party has a solicitor, sometimes a bundle will not be there – but they are helpful. No doubt you are taking time off work to go to the court hearing in the first place. Why not make it really count and get as much resolved as you can?
Preparing the bundles and, more importantly, the introductory documentation takes skill and it can really help the court and the other party understand your position and point of view. At Dovaston Law, we can offer to help you prepare your bundle for an agreed fixed fee or you can ask us to look over what you have prepared. We do not have to take over the running of your case to help in this way – but we can if you are finding it all a bit, well, ‘much’, quite frankly. We’re approachable, practical and helpful.