The judge reviews the bundle
A judge has criticised a law firm for taking a "lazy approach" when compiling a bundle for trial, for simply including "all the documents."
JMW is representing the claimant, Innovate Pharmaceuticals, in a case against the University of Portsmouth over alleged fraudulent misrepresentation by a researcher.
The university, represented by Eversheds Sutherland, applied to adjourn the trial due to the claimant's bundle, but the court dismissed the application. However, in reaching the decision, Mr Justice Constable gave JMW a ticking off over the timing and content of the trial bundle.
Eversheds had criticised JMW, as the claimant was supposed to submit the bundle by 28 August, but some documents were not sent until mid-September. The judge said that Eversheds was justified in its criticism that "JMW seemed only to be putting its mind to the creation of the trial bundle index at the last minute".
The hefty trial bundle runs up to 11,500 pages between both sides, and the judge said that the tardiness of the bundle may have explained why JMW decided "to include all disclosure in the trial bundle index". The judge said it should not be "difficult to prepare" a trial bundle. He noted that while it is often "the default position" (particularly when compiling an electronic bundle), to simply include all documents, that was not a reason to take "a lazy approach".
Commenting on the weighty bundle, the judge said that "in a case lasting 3 weeks, it is improbable that more than a few hundred documents will in fact be referred to in Court, whether by way of submission or in examination of witnesses, and a well prepared chronological trial bundle should reflect this".
On timing, the judge said that the bundle was later than it should have been, and the primary reason for the delay was "the approach taken by JMW" in "incorporating all documents, and the lateness of commencement of this task".
However, Eversheds also came in for some criticism, as the judge said that it was a "source of amazement" (but not in a good way) "how often parties are unable to co-operate constructively over the preparation of an appropriately relevant set of documents for trial."
The parties had disagreed over the format of the bundle index and the removal of duplicate documents, and the judge noted that "correspondence between the parties demonstrates what seems to be a regrettable lack of constructive co-operation on both sides."
The judge said that adjournment would cause significant delay and expense and Eversheds was not impeded in preparing a defence as the majority of documents had been available since disclosure started in February. He therefore dismissed the application to adjourn.
Eversheds Sutherland did not respond to a request for comment. JMW said it would not be providing a comment as the trial is ongoing.