Bundles - How to Create a Trial Bundle

What is a Trial Bundle?

When there is a trial in a civil court or tribunal, the court/tribunal will refer to documents arranged in a Trial Bundle which is produced by one of the parties - usually the party bring the proceedings who may be called the Claimant or Applicant. In a Trial Bundle every page has a page number and the judge and each party at the hearing have identical copies of the Trial Bundle (if it is a tribunal with more than one judge or a judge and lay assessors/tribunal members then each will need a copy). There will be a further copy of the Trial Bundle in the witness box.  When a witness is asked to look at a particular page in the copy of the bundle in the witness box, the parties and the judge can easily and quickly refer to the same page in their bundles. 

As well as being paginated - having each page numbered consecutively - the Trial Bundle will have an Index at the front. Despite its name, the Index is not like the index of an ordinary book. An ordinary non-fiction book will have a table of contents at the front listing each section or chapter in the order it appears with the page number, and there will also be an index at the back listing alphabetically people, places, topics etc. with the page number where that person, place, or topic is referred to in the book. The Index of a Trial Bundle is not at all like an alphabetic index that you find at the end of a typical book. It is at the front and is really a table of contents, but is more detailed than the table of contents in the average book because it lists every document, not merely every section, in the Trial Bundle, with its page number. Why is it called an Index? The word Index is actually an old word for a table of contents, rarely used in this sense now outside the legal context, but this is still its primary meaning when used by lawyers and judges.

Typical arrangement of sections in a Trial Bundle

It is usual to arrange a Trial Bundle in the following sections:

The Index at the front will list every document in the Trial Bundle, giving the date of the document, a brief description, and the page number. The purpose of the Index is, of course, to enable judges and lawyers to quickly find a document they are looking for, but, because the index is large, it is also important that the documents are arranged in the bundle in logical order so that the index (which, of course, lists them in the same order) is easy to use - i.e. it should be possible to guess roughly where a document is likely to appear in the index so that, in most instances, it is not necessary to search all the way though a long index. 

Pleadings - otherwise known as "statements of case".  These are the documents drafted by each party's barrister which set out concisely, and often in a technical legal manner, what each party alleges. In different type of tribunal or court case the pleadings may have different names such as Claim Form, Particulars of Claim, Defence and Counterclaim, etc. or simply Claimant's Statement of Case. These would generally be in chronological order within this section.

Orders. These are written decisions made by the court/tribunal about how the parties are to prepare for the hearing, for example whether a party may use an expert report, and by what date documents and witness statements are to be provided by one party to another. Orders would be in chronological order within this section.

NOTICES for VIDEOS and AUDIO files. This section name is in CAPITALs to draw attention to the fact that, in addition to the pages in the bundle itself, there is video/audio evidence. Where video and/or audio files are to be used at trial, normally a formal Notice has to be served by the party relying on them, and such Notices are stored in this section. If formal Notices are not required to be served, then a note should be stored in this section listing the audio and video files and stating where they are - e.g. on a USB Drive in a plastic pocket on the following page.  

Other Notices about Evidence. Any other Notices about evidence which have been served - for example a Notice where a party does not admit the authenticity of a document the other party wishes to rely on. 

Witness Statements. These are not arranged chronologically but rather the witness statements of the Claimant's witnesses (usually the Claimant's own statement first and then the Claimant's other witnesses in alphabetical order of witness name or some other convenient order) are together, followed by the witness statements of the Defendant's witnesses. If there are two or more witness statements from the same witness to be included in the trial bundle they should appear one after the other, the earlier one first. 

Photographs photograph Exhibits, generally in chronological order. The statement of a witness will often refer to photographs using an Exhibit number. For example a statement from a witness named John James Smith may say "I refer to a photograph of the wall marked JJS03 which I took on 22/4/2010..." and, for identification, a copy of the photograph will be marked Exhibit JJS03 (usually the exhibit mark will be on a frontsheet attached to a copy of the photograph so as not to obscure any part of the photograph itself). 

It is good practice for photos and other documents not to be combined in the same Exhibit and for each Exhibit which contains a photo to only contain one photo (or multiple photos but all of the same subject taken on the same date). If an Exhibit contains both photos and other documents it would be stored under Other Exhibits (see below).

Other Exhibits In addition to photograph Exhibits a witness statement may refer to other Exhibits each containing a number of documents with different dates, in particular emails and letters. But even if these selected emails and letters appear (as they should) within the Exhibit in chronological order, it would not be helpful to include the Exhibit itself in the chronological Other Documentary Evidence section (see below) because that section will almost certainly contain other documents whose dates are later than the earliest document in the Exhibit but earlier than the latest document in the Exhibit, so that inserting the Exhibit in the Other Documentary Evidence section would mean that the section would no longer be chronological as it should generally be. What is generally done, instead, is for the Other Documentary Evidence section to contain all relevant letters and emails in chronological order - without any being bundled together, in that section, in Exhibit form - and the letters/emails Exhibit itself would appear in the Other Exhibits section. It is the chronological copies of the letters and emails in the Other Documentary Evidence section which will generally be used during the trial but the letters/emails Exhibit in the Other Exhibits section is there just in case there should be any doubt about which letter or email the witness is referring to in their statement (usually there is no doubt but there could be if, for example, there are two letters with the same date). It is true that doing it this way results in duplication but it is limited duplication for a good reason. Particularly where the trial bundle would otherwise be very large, and particularly where there are solicitors on both sides preparing the trial bundle, the court/tribunal might require such duplication to be avoided by the witness statement references to the letters and emails being marked in manuscript with the page number of each letter and email within the chronological section, with the Exhibit itself then being omitted from the bundle - see for example Chancery Guide paragraph 21.39 - but such marking up is outside the scope of this article 
Other Documentary Evidence. This is usually the largest part of the Trial Bundle and consists of documents which came into existence in the ordinary course of events in the past such as letters, purchase orders, invoices, written agreements, emails etc. which tend to prove or disprove a party’s case on an issue in dispute. Usually documents are best arranged chronologically within a single section regardless of the document type, whether contract, purchase order, invoice, letter etc. (and regardless of which party has disclosed the document - though in a few cases separate sections might be appropriate) so that the historical sequence of events can be seen. However, where there are, in addition, a large number of documents in particular categories, such as bank statements over a number of years, or title deeds for a particular property, it would normally be appropriate for these to be in separate sections (in chronological order within each section) so that they appear in groups before or after the generality of documents.  

Expert Reports. Reports by experts such as (depending what the case is about) engineers, surveyors, or surgeons.            

Below is an example of a Trial Bundle bundle index - the first page of the bundle.

Creating a Trial Bundle PDF

You can create a trial bundle manually but don't! It is much easier using a web-based service such as CaseLines DCS and some courts/tribunals require the bundle to be provided in PDF form as well as hardcopy. If you used Caselines DCS to manage the documents at the Disclosure of Documents stage, then most of the documents needed in the trial bundle will be already in DCS so it is a matter of making a new Trial Bundle "case" and copying documents within Caselines into it. If you have not, up to now, used Caselines to store the documents, you first need to load each document into Caselines giving it a name which is suitable for use in a bundle Index. Once all the documents are in the Trial Bundle "case" in Caselines, production of the indexed and paginated trial bundle in PDF Form is automatic and you just tap the Download Complete Bundle button to download a PDF containing the index (which will look something like the above) and each section of the bundle. 

You should ensure that the Tabbed option is ticked for the first document in each section so that in the generated PDF the first page of the first document in each section is always printed on the right hand side so that when the bundle is printed double-sided tabs can be inserted at the start of each section.

Agreeing the content of the Trial Bundle with the other side

The Trial Bundle must contain all evidence which the judge will be asked to consider during the trial. Some people think that they can bring along to the trial lots of other documentary evidence as well but this idea is quite wrong. All documentary evidence must be in the trial bundle. If you discover at the last minute that something has been accidentally missed out of the trial bundle then the court/tribunal might give you special permission to use it but equally it might refuse or there might be a costs penalty so make sure every piece of evidence you want the judge to look at is in the trial bundle. 

There are some documents which may be prepared by barristers to supplement their oral argument about the facts or the law which might be loose and not be included in the trial bundle such as Skeleton Arguments, Chronologies, Case Summaries, Lists of Issues, and legal authorities (statutes and decided cases which establish legal precedents). Also any "without prejudice except as to costs" (or "without prejudice", "Calderbank" or "Part 36") offers or responses must not be in the trial bundle because the judge must not see these until after the judge has given judgement (decided who wins). In addition there may be schedules showing the legal costs (e.g. barrister fees and court/tribunal fees) with supporting invoices attached, which a party has incurred and which the judge does not need to consider until, after judgment, a party (usually the winner) applies for a costs order - these may be just stapled or a party may produce a separate Costs Bundle. But none of these documents are evidence for the trial. Any documents which are evidence relied on by a party to prove its case at trial must be in the trial bundle.       

Normally the court/tribunal rules, or the court's/tribunal's order, will require the parties to co-operate in the production of the trial bundle. One party (normally the Claimant) has the responsibility for actually producing and delivering the bundle in the required number of copies, but that party should ask the other party, in good time, what documents they wish to be included, and the other party should respond in good time. 

The general rule is that any document which either side wishes to be included in the bundle should be included, neither side having a veto. However there are some circumstances in which a party may object to the inclusion of a document which the other party wishes to be included. For example "without prejudice except as to costs" offers made by one party, but not accepted by the other, should not be included because the whole purpose of the "without prejudice" offer system, which is sanctioned by the rules, is that parties should be encouraged to make settlement offers without being concerned that the judge hearing the case will see the "without prejudice" offer before the judge has decided who has won. It is unlikely that there will be a dispute about the principle that "without prejudice" offer documents should not be included, but sometimes there can be a dispute about whether a particular document really is a "without prejudice" offer. If there is a genuine dispute of this nature about a document, normally the parties agree not to initially include the disputed document but to take sufficient (hole punched) copies to the trial so that they can be inserted or not depending on the judge's ruling. Therefore any such genuinely disputed document would not be included in the Trial Bundle.  

Another circumstance where a dispute can arise is where a party wishes to include a document which has not previously been "disclosed". Normally court/tribunal directions require the parties, at an early stage in the litigation process, to produce disclosure lists, listing all the documents they will use (or might want to use) at trial, and the rules provide that a party cannot subsequently insist on a document being included in a trial bundle unless it is a document which appears on either party's disclosure list. Permission must be sought from the court/tribunal to include such a document if the other side objects

Generally the courts/tribunals require trial bundles to only contain relevant documents because large numbers of irrelevant documents waste the court's/tribunal's time. Sometimes the parties disagree about whether documents are relevant. If the dispute is only about a few documents and there is no other reason to object to their inclusion, then it is normally agreed that they will be included because a dispute about just a few documents would take more time to resolve than simply including them. However if the party producing the bundles believes that a large number of documents, which the other side is insisting should be included, are completely irrelevant, the bundle-producing party may feel obliged, in order not to waste court/tribunal time, to refuse to include them. Sometimes what happens is that the bundle-producing party does include the documents but makes clear in a letter/email to the other party that they are doing so under protest. The purpose of such an "under protest" letter/email is to protect the bundle-producing party's position if the judge, at the trial, makes a criticism of the fact that a large number of irrelevant documents have been included in the bundle, and requires to know which party was responsible so that an appropriate sanction (such as an adverse costs order) can be made. Sometimes logistics plays a part in the bundle-producing party's decision whether to include documents - for example if a large number of documents have been requested very late in the day, and the bundle-producing party believes them to be irrelevant anyway, the bundle-producing party may be more likely to refuse to include them.

If the bundle-producing party refuses to include documents which the other party insists should be included then the other party may have to produce their own supplementary bundle, in the required number of copies, to be used by the court/tribunal alongside the main trial bundle. This is, however, very much a second best because documents should be arranged in logical sequence in a trial bundle and having some documents in the main trial bundle and other documents in a supplementary bundle means the sequence of documents may not be as easy to follow. The courts/tribunals expect the parties, in good faith, to try to resolve any differences so that no supplementary bundle is needed.

It is important, therefore, that the bundle-producing party should send to the other party, in good time before the trial at which the bundle will be used, a draft copy of the trial bundle PDF so that the contents can be agreed. Because the PDF will be large special methods are needed to sent it by email.  

The bundle-producing party could produce, as a first step, a bundle containing only the documents the bundle-producing party requires in the bundle and invite the other party to specify what further documents they require to be included. However usually the bundle-producing party will have a good idea what documents the other party is likely to require (every document specifically referred to in the statements of the other side’s witnesses will be needed, for example) and it is usually easier, logistically, to initially include all the documents the bundle-producing party requires plus all the documents the bundle-producing party thinks the other party is likely to require, and the other party can then be requested to confirm whether there are any further documents they require to be included  (if there is a large run of documents which the bundle-producing party has included only because of an assumption that the other party is likely to require them, then the other party can be asked, at the same time, to confirm that they do indeed require them).

If you are responsible for producing the Trial Bundle you need to make a plan with deadlines for

1. When you will be sending the first draft of the Trial Bundle, in PDF form, to the other side.

2. When the other side need to get back to you with a request for any further documents to be added

3. When you will send the Trial Bundle in it final form in hardcopy (with a USB drive containing the Trial Bundle PDF) to the other side.

The court/tribunal may have given directions specifying the deadlines for 1, 2 and 3, but often the court/tribunal will only specify the deadline for 3 and leave the parties to agree the logistics of agreeing the Trial Bundle and the deadlines for 1 and 2. To the extent that the court/tribunal has not set deadlines for the process of producing the Trial Bundle, you, if you are the party responsible for producing the Trial Bundle, need to plan the deadlines. The court/tribunal expects the parties to co-operate so you should show some flexibility but you need to take the lead in (politely) proposing deadlines. So, for example, 8 weeks before the date of the trial, you could send an email to the other side saying

As the Claimant with primary responsibility for producing the Trial Bundle, I plan to send you a draft in about 2 weeks time, that is to say by [date]. I will be using computer software to produce it so I will be able to send you a complete draft bundle (and not merely an index) in PDF form for your agreement. I would suggest that we set a deadline of 2 weeks later - i.e. [date] for you to get back to me with any request for any further documents (which, of course, can only be documents already disclosed) to be included. I would then plan to provide you with the Trial Bundle in its final form (in both hardcopy and PDF form) not later than two weeks before the start of the trial.   

In this example you should have 2 weeks to produce the final bundle which should be more than adequate but giving yourself ample time, in this way, allows you to show some flexibility if the other side ask for a few days grace. 

Once agreement on bundle contents is reached, the final trial bundle can be produced. It is vitally important that everyone - the judge, the parties, and their barristers - have identical bundles with identically numbered pages, and that it is this final trial bundle's page numbers which are used by barristers when, for example, making notes and skeleton arguments in preparation for the trial, so, to avoid any confusion, it is good practice, when initially making available to the other side the draft bundle in PDF form, to emphasise that it is a draft and that the page numbers of documents in the final bundle will be, or may be, different. 


Printing out, assembling and dispatching the Trial Bundle

First - plan the arrangement of sections within volumes

Although it is referred to as "a bundle", the Trial Bundle may, of course, consist of a number of lever arch files/ring binders if necessary because of the number of pages in it and because there may be some pages larger than A4 size which require a separate larger binder. In fact, even if the bundle is less than 300 A4 pages in total, and so could physically be accommodated in a single volume, it is generally desirable that more than one volume should be used so that the Witness Statements section is not in the same volume as the Exhibits and Other Documentary Evidence. This is so that when a witness is giving evidence, and a page from their witness statement is open, the documents they are asked questions about will be in another volume and everyone can have both pages open simultaneously. 

For example the sections of a Trial Bundle could be arranged in lever arch files and ring binders like this:

Volume 1 (A4 lever arch file)
Index (7 sheets - A4)
Pleadings (41 sheets - A4)
Orders (9 sheets - A4)
NOTICES for VIDEO and AUDIO files ( 1 sheet - A4)
Other Notices about Evidence (2 sheets - A4)
Witness statements (90 sheets - A4)

Volume 2 (A4 lever arch file)
Photograph Exhibits (30 sheets - A4)
Other Exhibits (50 sheets - A4)
Other Documentary Evidence (210 sheets - A4 and a few A3 sheets folded to A4 size)

Volume 3 (A3 ring binder)
A3 Maps (10 sheets)
Expert Reports which contain A4, A3 and some A2 pages (43 sheets)

Doing the printing and assembling

1. Click the Download Complete Bundle button as shown below to download the Trial Bundle as a PDF. 

2. If you have a suitable fast colour printer which can print double-sided you might choose to print out the bundle PDFs on your own printer or, alternatively, you might use a high street print shop to do this for you. Print the PDF in two or three steps. First of all print the index pages at the beginning of the PDF single-sided. Then print the remaining A4 pages of the PDF double-sided. Then print any A3 (or larger) pages on the correct size paper and either fold them or use a larger binder for them. The bundle must be printed in colour: this is not only because some pages may contain photographs or colour-coded plans but because the page number on every page is in red and red printed in greyscale can be difficult to see.

3. When the bundle pages have been printed out, hole punch them and file them in one or more lever arch file/ring binders. As explained above it is good practice for the witness statements to always be in a separate volume from the Exhibits and Other Documentary Evidence (so that a page of a witness statement, and a document referred to on that page, can be open simultaneously). 

4. The very first page of the PDF might be a title page giving the name and number of the case and the title of the bundle (e.g. Trial Bundle) in tramlines. The first page filed should always be the first page of the Index (i.e. the second page of the PDF if the first page of the PDF is a title page) so that the index can be seen immediately on opening the file without having to turn over a page which merely contains the title of the case.  If there is an initial page containing only the title it is intended to be stuck on the outside of the front cover of the volume, though you can write your own sticky label to put on the front of the volume, containing the same information, if that is easier, rather than use any title page. As well as sticking the title page to the front (or using a sticky label on the front) you should put a sticky label on the outside spine with the case number and case name in large writing. 

5. For each volume write the number of the volume (in large writing - 72 point), a brief indication of the contents of the volume (in medium writing), and the name and number of the case (in small writing) on a label affixed to the outside spine. For example:





John Smith v Geoff Jones

Case No HC-2017-123456



6. A label with the volume number and brief indication of contents should be stuck on the front of the volume:





7. A further label with the same information should also be stuck on to the front inside cover of each volume at the top left, in such a way that it can be seen even when the pages of the volume are open.

8. If a volume contains more than one section then you should insert a cardboard tab at the front of each section. For example if the first volume contains three sections Pleadings, Orders, and Witness Statements, the label on the volume should say "Pleadings, Orders and Witness Statements", and a cardboard tab with "Pleadings" written on it should be inserted before the Pleadings, a cardboard tab with "Orders" written on it should be inserted before the "Orders" and a cardboard tab with "Witness Statements" written on it should be inserted before the Witness Statements.

9. Repeat steps 2 to 8 above to produce several identical copies of the bundle. Unless the court/tribunal rules or specific directions given by the court/tribunal, require more, you generally need two copies for the court/tribunal (one for the judge and one for the witness box). You also need copies for each party (one for the party themselves and one for the party's barrister).

Sending out the hardcopy bundle copies

1. The court's order will specify a deadline by which you must deliver the trial bundle in hardcopy form to the other side in advance of the trial and generally you will be sending copies of the bundle to the other side by post. The deadline for delivering the court's/tribunal's copies to the court/tribunal office depends on the particular rules and any specific directions given by the court/tribunal. Many offices have limited storage space and consequently the directions may specify a maximum as well as a minimum time for delivery to the office - e.g. "The Claimant shall lodge the trial bundle not more than 14 days before, and not less than 7 days before, the trial date". Sometimes, again because of lack of storage space, the directions will require only one copy of the bundle to be lodged in advance at court with the second copy being brought along on the first day of the trial. 

2. When sending copies of the bundle by post, you should ensure that they are well padded so that the metal posts of the lever arch files are not bent during handling in the post. Once the metal post in a lever arch file is bent out of position, it is impossible to bend it back into exactly the right position so that the two posts exactly meet, with the annoying result that every time the judge using the lever arch file turns over a page, the page catches on the point where the metal posts (almost) join. 

Providing PDF copies of the Trial Bundle

You should, as well as providing the Trial Bundle in hardcopy form, also provide the Trial Bundle PDF on USB sticks. USB sticks should be brand new USB sticks which have not been used before and if the Trial Bundle contains placeholders for any video or audio files, the video/audio files themselves (e.g. the mp3 or mp4 files) should be loaded to the USB drive in addition to the Trial Bundle PDF. Generally the USB stick should be in a hole-punched pocket (secured in such a way that it cannot fall out accidentally) at the front on the first volume of the hardcopy Trial Bundle. You only need to provide one USB stick to the court (even though you will generally be providing two copies of the hardcopy bundle to the court). Likewise you only need to provide one USB stick to the other side.

Inserting new documents into a Trial Bundle after it has been sent out

You should take great care to ensure that the bundle is correct and complete before copies are sent out. If, despite best endeavours, you discover, after some or all of the copies of the bundle have been sent out, that a document has been missed out, it is essential that steps are taken to insert the additional document(s) in the same position in all copies of the bundle, including those already sent out, because the copies of the bundle used by the judge and by the parties and their barristers must be absolutely identical. It is also essential that the new documents are page-numbered in a way which does not disturb the existing page numbering of the bundle. See here for how to do this using CaseLines DCS subnumbering.

DCS subnumbering can only be set at the document level so if you have a situation where just one or two pages of a document have been missed out (not the whole document) you will first need to remove the document with missing pages, replacing it with a blank as described below, before inserting a copy of the complete document containing all pages.

If a document needs to be removed, how to remove it cleanly, without altering the page numbers of other documents, is explained here.


This information page is mainly designed to be used by clients of John Antell who have entered into an agreement for the provision of legal services, with the intention that it be used in conjunction with specific advice to the individual client about the individual case. If you are not a client please bear in mind that in order to be reasonably concise I have had to leave some details out - details which are likely to affect what the procedural 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 March 2018. Disclaimer