New rules about what can go in a family court bundle and what must stay out took full effect yesterday, by way of the memorably named Practice Direction 27A – Family Proceedings: Court Bundles (Universal Practice to be Applied in the High Court and Family Court) of the Family Procedure Rules 2010.

The “bundle” is the evidence given to the judge so that they can make their decisions during hearings.

In a complex case the documentary evidence can run to multiple lever arch binders. The new rules limit the bundle of disclosure put before the judge to just one binder of 350 pages!

Additionally now certain documents such as letters, medical records, and bank statements are not allowed in the bundle without the judge’s permission, even if both parties want to include them.

Whilst restrictive, hopefully these changes will prove to be good news for those of us who try to focus on the issues in a case at an early stage. I’ve found settlement unnecessarily delayed in some cases because the other party’s solicitor is concentrating on following procedure rather than on the facts of the case.

Now, the new rules mean having to select a limited number of documents to go into the court bundle before every hearing, so those solicitors who do not prepare their case carefully beforehand may find themselves at court without the judge having a document crucial to their argument?!