Adjournment and costs penalties for poor pagination in Trial Preparation – Parties Beware

In the case of PM Project Services Ltd v Dairy Crest Ltd [2016] EWHC 1235 (TCC), and as a result of the Claimant’s failure to provide a properly paginated bundle for the Court, the Court adjourned key parts of the Claimant’s application for summary judgment and ordered the Claimant to bear the resulting costs until the issue was resolved.

The above proceedings provides a cautionary reminder of the absolute necessity to ensure that Court bundles are organised and indexed properly and the potential costs penalties for failing to do this. The case concerned an application by the Claimant (PM) for summary judgment against the Defendant (DC) in relation to three separate claims over unpaid invoices. In relation to the first claim, the Judge concluded that DC had a real prospect of resisting PM’s claim, or, alternatively, that there were compelling reasons why it should be disposed of at a full trial. However, the Judge adjourned PM’s application in relation to the other claims. These had been supported by a witness statement with exhibits running to over 750 pages. The page references in the witness statement and exhibits did not match those in the Court bundle prepared for the hearing, and the original pagination had not been preserved.

The Judge noted that any sensible time set aside for pre-reading had been derailed by the manner of the pagination of the witness statement and exhibits. The pagination presented such a handicap as to prevent the necessary amount of reading taking place before the hearing. Consequently, at the outset of the hearing, the Judge stated that he would not consider the second and third limbs of the application. Furthermore, the Judge directed that the bundles be returned to PM’s solicitors in order for them to insert the bundle references in the witness statement. More importantly, the costs of that exercise, and any costs thrown away by the necessity to adjourn the second and third limbs of the application, were to be paid for by PM.

Accordingly, this is another clear example as demonstrated by the Court of where appropriate preparation of evidence and documentation in support of a party’s position for a hearing or trial is vital for the proper presentation and consideration of evidence in Court and the consequences of failing to do so.