Case Alert ‐ [2017] EWHC 2259 (Admin)

Judge criticises lengthy bundles and skeleton arguments

Holgate J made some comments in this case "in order to make it plain to litigants that the practices that were followed in this case, and regrettably sometimes in others, are not acceptable". He criticised the use of lengthy bundles containing largely irrelevant information and a skeleton argument which was "long, diffuse and often confused. It also lacked proper cross-referencing to those pages in the bundles which were being relied upon".

He went on to say that "Prolix or diffuse "grounds" and skeletons, along with excessively long bundles, impede the efficient handling of business … such practices are likely to result in more time needing to be spent by the judge in pre-reading material so as to penetrate or decode the arguments being presented, the hearing may take longer, and the time needed to prepare a judgment may become extended. Consequently, a disproportionate amount of the Court's finite resources may have to be given to a case prepared in this way and diverted from other litigants waiting for their matters to be dealt with".

The court can deal with this problem through the use of wide case management powers. For example, it might refuse to accept excessively long skeletons or bundles, or skeletons without proper cross-referencing, or may direct the production of a core bundle or limit the length of a skeleton. Costs sanctions might also be imposed.