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| 1 minute read

Clarification of guidance on electronic bundles for litigants in person

The recent digitalization of the family court process has come with many benefits. Not having to carry thousands of pages of paper around for every court attendance being one of the most noticeable! However, the requirement for parties to produce an electronic bundle in advance of hearings is causing some difficulty for those who are navigating the court process themselves and do not have representation (litigants in person). With recent figures from the Ministry of Justice indicating that in only 21% of cases both parties are represented, this is an issue that is cropping up more and more.  

Earlier this week the Financial Remedies Court issued new guidance clarifying the rules and guidance on the production of electronic bundles. The rules apply equally to litigants in person as those with representation and the court will still expect a litigant in person to prepare and file an electronic bundle. In cases where one party alone has a solicitor it is for that solicitor (and not the litigant in person) to prepare the electronic bundle. In practice, this can mean that the costs for the party that does have representation escalate as the burden for preparing for a hearing falls unevenly on them.

Where the court is faced with two litigants in person, neither of whom has the IT proficiency to produce an e-bundle, the court is tasked with "finding a solution which overcomes the problem". It is difficult to see how an overburdened court is going to deal with these issues, but it will need to be careful not to leave parties behind, struggling to understand the process they find themselves in.

The guidance also confirms that the obligation to complete forms ES1 (case summary) and ES2 (asset schedule), rolled out across financial remedy practice earlier this year, applies as much to litigants in person as it does to represented parties. These are comprehensive and complex documents and will undoubtedly pose a challenge for someone with no legal training. 

‘We recognise that there may be circumstances when the applicant LIP simply has insufficient IT ability to prepare the bundle. If this happens than that person should contact the court and explain the difficulty as far as possible in advance of the relevant court hearing,’ the guidance says.


family law