Sir James Munby has recently published a Memorandum proposing amendments to the Bundles PD – PD27A.

In his announcement he said

“PD27A imposes a 350-page limit (PD 27A, para 5.1) and spells out (para 4.1) the fundamental principle that “The bundle shall contain copies of only those documents which are relevant to the hearing and which it is necessary for the court to read or which will actually be referred to during the hearing.” Compliance with these requirements is still fitful.

One matter which is not regulated by PD27A is the length of individual documents. I urged restraint in Re L [2015] EWFC 15, [2015] 1 FLR 1417, paras 21-22. I am not conscious that this has had much effect. I wonder whether the time has therefore not now come to impose page limits for certain types of documents, which will be mandatory in all cases “Unless” – cf PD27A, para 5.1 – “the court has specifically directed otherwise, being satisfied that such direction is necessary to enable the proceedings to be disposed of justly.”

I accordingly suggest for consideration the insertion in PD27A of a new para 5.2A, as follows:

“Unless the court has specifically directed otherwise, being satisfied that such direction is necessary to enable the proceedings to be disposed of justly, any of the following documents included in the bundle shall be limited to no more than the number of sheets of A4 paper and sides of text specified below:”


Case summary  4
Statement of issues 2
Position statement 5
Chronology 10
Skeleton argument 15
List of essential reading 1
Witness statement or affidavit (exclusive of exhibits) 20
Expert’s or other report 40
Care plan 10


He continues in the Memorandum:

I ask three questions: (i) is this desirable; (ii) if so, should length be controlled by a page count or a word count; and (iii) if by page count, are the suggested figures are appropriate?

As a separate matter, I further suggest that the final words of PD27A, para 4.3, be re-numbered 4.3A and amended to read (additional words show in italic):

“Copies of all authorities relied on must be contained in a separate composite bundle agreed between the advocates. Unless the court has specifically directed otherwise, being satisfied that such direction is necessary to enable the proceedings to be disposed of justly, the bundle shall not contain more than 10 authorities. Where a case is reported in a law report which contains a headnote, such a report shall be used and transcripts (including transcripts on BAILII) shall not be used. Attention is drawn to the Practice Direction dated 24 March 2012.”

The need for this is indicated by Holman J’s judgment in Seagrove v Sullivan [2014] EWHC 4110 (Fam), paras 21-22.”


For those that don’t want to trawl through the Judgement in Seagrove V Sullivan, those paragraphs mentioned in the Memorandum are here:

[21] As long ago as 24 March 2012, the then Lord Chief Justice issued a practice direction headed ‘Citation of Authorities’. That practice direction is reproduced and very clearly available to family practitioners at page 2962 of the current, 2014 edition of the Family Court Practice. Paragraph 14 of the direction makes plain that it has been made with the agreement of, amongst others, the President of the Family Division. Paragraph 1 provides that:

‘This Practice Direction is issued in order to clarify the practice and procedure governing the citation of authorities and applies throughout the Senior Courts of England and Wales, including the Crown Court, in county courts and in magistrates’ courts.’

It varies an earlier practice direction so that the relevant part of that practice direction now provides that:

‘The bundle of authorities should comply with the requirements of Practice Direction: Citation of Authorities (2012) and in general –


(a) have the relevant passages of the authorities marked;

(b) not include authorities for propositions not in dispute; and

(c) not contain more than 10 authorities unless the scale of the appeal warrants more extensive citation.’

Although it is true that subparagraph (c) makes reference to ‘the appeal’, it is, frankly, inconceivable that more authorities should be liable to be cited at the level of first instance than at the level of an appeal. So the clear starting point is that a bundle of authorities should not contain more than ten authorities, unless the scale of the case warrants more extensive citation.

[22] Pausing there, one wonders what it is about this case that requires and justifies citation of three times the number of authorities that the Lord Chief Justice, with the agreement of the President of the Family Division, clearly stipulated.