Disclosure Reports in Multi-track cases

In cases covered by the Civil Procedure Rules which are, or are likely to be, allocated to the Multi-Track – that is most cases where more than £25,000 is at stake, or where it is estimated that more than one day will be required for the trial – the parties each have to serve and file a signed Disclosure Report not less than 14 days before the first Case Management Conference.

The reason why the rules require a Disclosure Report to be provided by each party is to give the judge at the CMC information about what the cost of ordering that party to give “standard disclosure” of documents might be, what categories of relevant documents there are, where they are located and whether in paper form or on computer etc. The courts have become concerned, in recent decades, about the costs of disclosure and, in theory, to limit costs, could make a disclosure order which limits the categories of document which need to be searched for and/or the locations which need to be searched, though, in practice, in the great majority of cases, “standard disclosure” is still ordered.

The costs which a litigant in person can claim (if they are awarded costs) are normally limited to £19 per hour for their own time. By contrast the charges of a firm of solicitors for dealing with disclosure of documents could be up to £250 per hour or more. If you are a litigant in person it is very unlikely that your costs for disclosure of documents could ever reach a level which would cause the court concern: it is really only the costs of parties who have engaged solicitors which could cause concern. Nevertheless the rules do still require each party to file and serve a Disclosure Report in Multi-track cases, even if the party is a litigant in person. Probably the reason for this is the concern of the courts to be even-handed: in most cases it would not be fair to limit the disclosure required of one party because they happen to have expensive solicitors but still require more extensive disclosure from a party without solicitors - so both side's Disclosure Reports need to be considered. 

The first section of the Disclosure Report form (form N263 which can be downloaded from www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/forms) is a table giving a brief description of what documents exist or may exist. In fact the table on the form itself is too small to be used in most cases so you need to create a separate document with a table entitled “Brief Description of Claimant’s Documents” (or “Brief Description of Defendant’s Documents if you are the Defendant) to be attached to the Disclosure Report form.

First of all, think about what categories of documents exist, where they are located, and whether they are paper or electronic documents. For example: 

 Letters, contract, etc. between me and the builder       Home filing cabinet
 Letters between me and the architect, contract, specification, drawings etc. Home filing cabinet
 Emails between me and the builder Desktop computer at home
 Emails between me and the architect Desktop computer at home
 Photographs of completed work  Mobile phone


Then think about the practicalities of making PDF copies of documents in each category and list separately documents which might be significantly harder than usual to make PDF copies of


 Letters, contract, etc. between me and the builder       Home filing cabinet
 Letters between me and the architect, contract, specification, drawings etc. - A4 Home filing cabinet
 Architect's Drawings - A2 Home filing cabinet
 Emails between me and the builder Desktop computer at home
 Emails between me and the architect Desktop computer at home
 Photographs of completed work  Mobile phone



You can see that in the above example the category of architect’s documents has been split between A4 documents and A2 documents on the assumption that you do not have an A2 scanner - so that you will be able to scan in A4 documents easily yourself but will need to use a commercial scanning service for the A2 documents.

The next step is to work out approximately how many documents there are in each category. Only an approximate number is needed.

Then make an estimate, for each category of documents, of how many hours it would take to search through that category of documents, identifying individual probative documents, and scanning in/copying each probative document as a PDF. For some categories you may well have done a lot of the work already - if so give the number of hours spent so far on that category and also an estimate of how many further hours will be required to complete the work for that category. 
When giving an estimate for the number of hours the work will take you for each category of documents, don’t forget to take into account the following: 

  • When you come to do the work for each category you only need to scan in/make PDF copies of documents you find which are probative (i.e. documents which tend to prove or disprove some issue in dispute in the case) but it will take time to establish which individual documents are probative. 
  • If some categories of documents are not immediately to hand, it may take time to obtain them in the first place. You have to consider not just documents you have immediately to hand but also any documents you have a right to obtain such as documents you may have lodged with your accountant or bank.
  • As well as estimating the amount of your time likely to be taken for each category of document, you should consider whether there will be any monetary cost in addition. For example, will you be using a commercial service such as Caselines Scan and Title service to bulk load documents for you? To the extent that you will be scanning in and loading documents yourself, do you already have the equipment you need or will you have to buy a faster scanner? If you have paper documents greater than A4 size, do you have a suitable scanner or will you need to use a commercial scanning service for these?

Disclaimer

The above explanation of the procedural law as it relates to Disclosure Reports is only an overview and in order to be reasonably concise I have had to leave some details out - details which are likely to affect what the law would say about your own situation. So please do not rely on the above but contact me for advice.

The information on this page about specific computer techniques is provided for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date at the time it was written but no responsibility for its accuracy, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by me. You should satisfy yourself, before using any of the techniques, software or services described, that the techniques are appropriate for your purposes and that the software or service is reliable.

This page was lasted updated in November 2016. Disclaimer