Court sanctions party that failed to paginate its bundles properly

Bundles: returned to solicitors

Bundles: returned to solicitors

A party’s failure to provide a properly paginated bundle to the High Court has led to the adjournment of key parts of its application for summary judgment and a costs order.

Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart – who said he gave up reading a key witness statement after two hours because of the pagination problem – also ordered that the bundles be returned to the applicant’s solicitors to get them right.

In PM Project Services Ltd v Dairy Crest Ltd [2016] EWHC 1235 (TCC), the claimant made an application for summary judgment in relation to three separate claims over unpaid invoices. All three limbs of the application were opposed by Dairy Crest.

The judge recorded: “The second and third limbs of the application were supported by the witness statement of a Mr Dean, to which were exhibited documents running to over 750 pages. Unfortunately, the page references in Mr Dean’s witness statement are different from those in the bundle prepared for the hearing and the original page numbers have not been retained.

“Thus, when Mr Dean refers to a TS01 Report dated 8 December 2015 at paragraph 22 of his witness statement, which is said to be found at pages 174-186 of his Exhibit MD6, this is of little help because that exhibit starts at page 400.

“Although it is not obvious, a careful perusal of the exhibits reveals that there is an index to each exhibit inserted behind the cover sheet. If one works one’s way through the index for Exhibit MD6, the TS01 Report is shown as being at page 24. It is, in fact, at page 428 of the bundle. It is not at page 424, as one might expect, because a spreadsheet running to four numbered pages has been inserted immediately behind the index.”

The hearing was listed for half a day – although the application notice said it would take three hours – and the applicant suggested that three hours would be required for pre-reading.

Edwards-Stuart J said this would have been on the low side even if the application bundles had been properly paginated.

“As it was, any sensible pre-reading was derailed by the manner of the pagination of the exhibits to Mr Dean’s witness statement. After about two hours of reading the papers I concluded that the handicap presented by the pagination would prevent the necessary amount of reading taking place before the hearing.

“I therefore said at the outset of the hearing that I was not prepared to hear the second and third limbs of the application, but that I would hear the first (which did not rely on the evidence of Mr Dean). That is what happened: but, even so, the hearing of that claim alone took one hour and 45 minutes. If I had decided to embark on a hearing of all three limbs of the application, there is no prospect whatever that it could have been finished in a morning.”

The judge directed that when his ruling – in which he rejected the application for summary judgment on the first claim – had been handed down, the bundles were to be returned to PM’s solicitors, Weightmans, so that the correct bundle references could be inserted into the witness statement.

“The costs of that exercise and any costs thrown away by the necessity to adjourn the second and third limbs of the application must be borne by PM,” Edwards-Stuart J ruled.

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