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Message from the President of the Family Division: Guidance on e-bundles

PRESIDENT’S MEMORANDUM: GUIDANCE ON E-BUNDLES FOR USE IN THE FAMILY COURT AND FAMILY DIVISION

  1. This memorandum is to be read with the general guidance on electronic bundles for all courts issued on 29 November 2021 and the supplementary guidance issued on 21 December 2021.
  2. The working group referred to in paragraph 4(a) of the guidance given by me on 21 December 2021 has undertaken considerable research with numerous local authorities as to the practical feasibility, and cost implications, of applying the general guidance of 29 November 2021 to public law care proceedings. I am very grateful to that group and to those local authorities which have responded so promptly to the requests for information. The clear recommendation of the working group is that the temporary suspension referred to in paragraphs 4(a) and 5(a) should be further extended.
  3. I accept that recommendation. Public law care proceedings constitute a separate class of civil proceedings where considerable investment has been made by local authorities in software to produce bundles which conform with PD 27A para 4.2. I accept that it will take time for local authorities to make the necessary adjustments to enable them to have the software and resources to comply with the general guidance on electronic bundles.
  4. It is clear to me that public law children proceedings should, after a transitional period, have identical standards in the preparation of electronic bundles to other forms of family and civil proceedings. I therefore extend the temporary suspension until 1 January 2023. This should afford sufficient time to local authorities to adjust their systems to adopt those standards.
  5. From that date onwards, unless otherwise directed by the court, the general guidance on electronic bundles shall apply to public law children proceedings. The requirement in PD27A para 4.2 for each section to be separately paginated shall not be followed for an electronic bundle. Instead, sequential singular pagination of the entire bundle, corresponding to the PDF numbering, will be required.
  6. For the avoidance of any doubt, nothing in this memorandum affects paragraphs 2, 3, 4(c) -(e), 6, 7 and 8 of the supplementary guidance, which continues fully to apply.