This article will guide you on how to achieve a good level of consistency in providing PDF bundles to be used by judges in court hearings. It is not immutable, and should give way to any specific directions by particular courts or the requirements of particular judges in particular cases. However, it should and if it is operated correctly, give the judges bundles that are as useful as can be. It should be given to solicitors and litigators personally to act as a guide pertaining to the useful construction on bundles. They should comply with either all of most of these requirements and if they cannot, explain why.
However, it is important to note that these notes are not intended for the use in tribunals.
Bundling needs to follow these principles:
- Where the character of the document allows, all bundles need to be the subject of the (Optical Character Recognition). This is the process of turning the document from a simple picture of a document to a document in where text will be readable as text so that the document can become word-searchable and the word will be able to be highlighted when making them up. However, it is accepted that some document would not be subject to this process however, most should be.
- The documents need to appear in portrait mode and if the document is originally in landscape, it needs to be inserted so it is able to be read with in a 90 degree clockwise rotation and no document should be displayed upside down.
- The view by default for all pages needs to be 100%.
- Under normal practice if a core bundle is needed, then a PDF core bundle has to be made that adheres to the same requirements as a paper bundle.
- Proper consideration needs to be given pertaining to the number of bundles that are required. It usually is not useful to have a large number of PDF files open when a hearing is taking place in order to get at documents. In many cases it will most probably be possible to merge all documents into one bundle – statements of case, witness statements and other documents (Family Courts prefer this). In bigger cases it would be make sense to single out categories of documents into separate bundles. However, subdivision is not helpful – e.g. it would not be useful to have separate witness statements in different PDF files. Speaking generally, a chronological run of documents should be in one overall file.
- All the page within the bundle should be numbered either by computer generated numbering or in a typed form (if it is added by a scanner) and should not be numbered by hand. If it is computer generated of typed in, the number will become readable and would be able to be searched for. If possible, the number should be preceded by a letter as this aids in searching.
- Pagination should not hide relevant details on the original document.
- If possible, any documents that are scanned should not be larger than 300 dpi, this is to avoid slow rendering or scrolling.
- All important documents and sections in bundles should be bookmarked to make sure navigation is easy and the bookmark must have the page number of the document.
- An index or table of content for the documents should be prepared. If possible, the entries should also be hyperlinked to the indexed document.
- All PDF files need to contain a short version of the name of the case and an indication of the number or letter of the bundle, and should end with the hearing date.
- If a bundle has to be added after the file has been submitted to the judge, you should not assume that the judge will accept it as a complete replacement as he/she could have already begun marking up the original. The judge should also be asked as to what he/she would like to do regarding it. If a decision is not taken, a substitute bundle should be made available however, any pages that need to be added should be provided separately within a separate file with page that are appropriately sub-numbered (145.1,145.2 etc.).