E-Bundles: Guidelines The Supreme Court
Address of the President Sir James Munby at the annual dinner of the Family Law Bar Association in Middle Temple Hall on 26 February 2016
And so to the real revolution: moving to the digital court of the future. We have scarcely begun to harness the real power of IT. As Professor Richard Susskind has pointed out, and it is a profoundly important message, at present we have hardly got beyond using IT to do the things we can do without IT. Moving from the quill pen via the biro and the electric typewriter to the word processor is progress of a sort – though a word processor is really little more than an electronic version of the printing press invented all those centuries ago in Renaissance Italy. But we must embrace the use of IT to do things that only IT can do. Recent progress has been rapid, and the pace of change is rapidly accelerating. We have F-Diary. More and more courts are using eFiles in the court office and eBundles in the court room. But we still have a long way to go to the entirely digitised and paperless court of the future, though this is – must be – a vision not of some distant future but of what has to be, and I believe can be, achieved over the next four years of the Courts Modernisation Programme. The programme extends to the entire justice system: crime, civil, family and tribunals. It is a very tight timetable. It is a visionary programme of ambition unprecedented anywhere in the world. But it can be done; it 4 must be done; it will be done. And when it has been done, we will at last have escaped from a court system still in too large part moored in the world of the late Mr Charles Dickens.
In future, proceedings will be issued on-line. The applicant – and remember, the applicant will increasingly be a lay person bereft of professional assistance – will not fill in an on-line application form but an on-line questionnaire capturing all the relevant information while at the same time being much more user-friendly. Some processes will be almost entirely digitised: early examples will be digital on-line probate and digital on-line divorce, both planned for at least initial implementation early in 2017. Some proceedings will be conducted almost entirely on-line, even down to and including the final hearing. The judge, who will not need to be in a courtroom, will interact electronically with the parties and, if they have them, their legal representatives. The heaviest cases will of course continue to require the traditional gathering of everyone together in a court room, though probably only for the final hearing and any really significant interim hearings. The other hearings in such cases will increasingly be conducted over what we quaintly continue to call video links – though I earnestly hope using equipment much better than the elderly and inadequate kit to which we are at present condemned.
And, finally, the digital revolution will enable us to carry through a radical revision of both court forms and court orders. The thickets of numberless court forms – I speak literally; no-one knows how many there are, though in the family justice system alone they run into the hundreds – must be subjected to drastic pruning, indeed, radical surgery, before they are digitised. Court orders must be standardised – work on this is well advanced – and digitised, with standard templates, self-populating boxes and drop-down menus designed to ease and shorten the process of drafting and then producing the order. We must have proper wifi access in courts, to avoid the farce of counsel having to leave the building to find a spot on the pavement outside where they can communicate with the court. Given the marvels of modern IT, why should we not be able to hand every litigant in all but the lost complex cases a sealed order before they leave the courtroom? To read the full text click here
Some remain surprised at what should or should not be included within the bundle, when they should be prepared, and the format they should be provided in.
Electronic bundle guidelines
Memory stick submissions
Please note that parties submitting material for appeal hearings must do so both in hard copy and through the use of a memory stick or by following the instructions below to use the eBundle system.
Instructions for the formatting of memory stick can be found in Memory stick guidelines.
Family Proceedings: Court Bundles United Kingdom
Responsibility for the preparation of the bundle
3.1 A bundle for the use of the court at the hearing shall be provided by the party in the position of applicant at the hearing (or, if there are cross-applications, by the party whose application was first in time) or, if that person is a litigant in person, by the first listed respondent who is not a litigant in person.