About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Friday, 7 November 2008

PRFD Practice Direction re bundles, orders & listing

New PRFD Practice Direction issued by HHJ Altman, DFJ for London which came into effect from 15th October 2008

Bundles must be removed immediately after the end of a hearing. Judges will not allow them to be left inside or outside the court for collection the following day.

A. Bundles and case management documents.
1. Supplementary Direction

The President’s Practice Direction (Family Proceedings: Court Bundles) (universal practice to be applied in all Courts other than the Family proceedings court) [2006] 2 FLR 199

This direction is made pursuant to paragraph [2.5] of the above stated Practice Direction. ‘Hearings’ within the provisions of the Practice Direction will include the following so that the requirements as to bundles and the other provisions will apply

a) Public Law Children’s Hearings
All hearings of whatever length.
b) Private Law Children’s Hearings
Save as below, all hearings of whatever length:
• For hearings of less than one hour a bundle is not required (unless circumstances make this appropriate) but other case management papers under paragraph 3 must be filed.
• The Practice Direction does not apply to Conciliation Hearings.

PLEASE NOTE THAT AS FROM the 15th October 2008 this will be strictly applied. Late or non-filing of bundles and Case Management documents under the President’s direction are likely to result in adjournment at the expense of the defaulting party.

2. Witness Bundles.
a) These MUST not be filed before all directions and other hearings unless witnesses will be required to give evidence, and then only relevant bundle extracts should be filed.
b) Where practicable witness bundles should NOT be filed before the hearing, but should be brought to court for use at the hearing itself

3. Content of bundles
Parties are asked to ensure that the content of bundles is kept to the minimum required to deal with the relevant issues.

4. Bundles after a hearing
The PRFD has no facility either for the storage of bundles or to dispose of them without substantial cost, as they are confidential. Accordingly all bundles must be removed immediately after the end of a hearing.

Faxing of documents will not be accepted except in exceptional circumstances and only where the document is short. Late faxing of documents will not be accepted as a means of delivery to the court. Confidential documents such as statements and reports must not be sent by fax. Sending long documents by fax is not permitted save by prior arrangement.

Whilst email is useful for ancillary documents such as position statements and other practice direction documents it should not be used for evidence or other evidential material because of length and lack of confidentiality. The Court Service is reviewing the issue of confidentiality.

1. The Clerk assigned to a particular Court has the overall responsibility to oversee and facilitate the production of the Order. Where there is no clerk in court practitioners should enquire as to which clerk will be responsible for the production of the order for the particular court.

2. Where counsel or solicitor agrees to draft the order, this must be e-mailed by no later than 4.00 pm on the working day following the day of the hearing. Any delay beyond that period may make it necessary to re-list the case so as to finalise the order with a potential liability for wasted costs. In all circumstances the proposed order must be sent by email to the clerk responsible for the court at the time, and to the generic email address (prfd.familycourtorders@hmcourts-service.gsi.gov.uk). This applies even to those cases where arrangements are made to email the order to the Judge as well, and in such circumstances it would be helpful to remind the clerk that the order has also been sent to the judge for checking.

3. In Public Family Law cases, all CMCs will be listed at 10.00 am. Any hearing dates in an order should provide for and specify judicial reading time

Any urgent case for the ‘DJD’ will not be accepted unless issued at the counter by 3.15pm. Any cases issued later in the day will be listed for the next available day, unless permission is obtained in cases of genuine emergency to issue late.

In all cases where appropriate, and particularly in Family Law Act applications the applicant must complete a draft of the pro-forma order to hand to the judge at the outset of the hearing.

Any listing for a hearing of a public family law case, whether urgent or otherwise, will be listed, if possible, before the judge assigned to that case and not in the DJD list and practitioners are asked to co-operate in this arrangement when requesting a listing.

There is a continuing problem in the adjournment of hearings in public law, especially of final hearings, and practitioners are asked to co-operate in avoiding these particularly by timely communication between themselves and the court about the progress of a cases so as to anticipate difficulties at the earliest opportunity.

1 comment:

Peter Ryder said...

The requirement for immediate collection of bundles ignores the costs consequence. Increasingly counsel attends without solicitor. This saves money and many legal aid solicitors do it because it is the only way they can continue to do the work. Counsel may have two or three briefs so it cannot be assumed he or she will be able to remove the bundle.

Once again the judiciary, who so often bleat about lawyers running up excessive costs, are unwilling to help when it comes to their own and the court’s administrative convenience.