Adjournment and costs penalties for poor bundle preparation

In PM Project Services v Dairy Crest Ltd [2016] EWHC 1235 (TCC), the High Court adjourned significant parts of the claimant's application for summary judgement and ordered that it pay the ensuing costs on the basis that the claimant had failed to provide an accurately paginated bundle.

The claimant sought a summary judgment against the defendant in relation to three separate claims over unpaid invoices, all three of which were opposed by the defendant, Dairy Crest Ltd. In support of the second and third limbs of the application, the claimant submitted a witness statement which appended an exhibit containing over 750 pages.

Furthermore, the page references in the witness statement were different to those prepared for the hearing and unfortunately the original page numbers had not been retained. As a result, the references within the witness statement did not correspond to the pagination within the bundle, which served to create significant confusion and delay.

Mr Justice Edwards – Stuart held that as a result of the inaccuracy, 'any sensible pre-reading was de- railed' and refused to hear the second and third limbs of the application. He concluded that 'the handicap presented by the pagination would prevent the necessary amount of reading to take place before the hearing' and directed that the bundles be returned to the claimant's solicitors for the correct references to be inserted. He ordered that all resulting costs arising from correcting the inaccuracies and adjourning the second and third limbs were the responsibility of the claimant.

The case highlights the importance of careful indexing and organisation when preparing court bundles as failure to do so could incur embarrassing consequences and costly penalties.