Earlier this month, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart caused a stir when he adjourned part of a case because of confusing page numbering in a trial bundle.
Was this simply a matter of one judge throwing his toys out of the pram, or is there a wider issue here?
To be fair to Edwards-Stuart, as he explained in his order, he had just three hours’ reading time to prepare for the case. Having struggled on for two hours, he concluded that the jumbled up pagination effectively made it impossible for him to prepare properly within the time allowed.
I think his actions in this case were fair enough. But I suspect they were also intended to send a signal to the solicitors’ profession more widely.
Having spoken to judges on the topic, I detect much frustration over the standard of bundles that they are receiving.
I spoke to one judge recently who had not long joined the bench from private practice. He was gobsmacked by the shambolic state of bundles presented to him.
Many on the bench fear that the quality of trial documents is deteriorating - increasing the pressure on trial judges already in fear of being buried alive by the weight of their caseloads, not to mention the extra burden of dealing with unrepresented litigants.
But there is another side of the coin.
Judges want trial bundles that are well-organised, concise and professional. But preparing these properly takes time, and requires input from more senior lawyers. That means cost.
If solicitors spend more time on preparing trial bundles, will that time be recoverable if they win? If the damages are not big enough, then the costs are likely to be slashed down as disproportionate.
Small wonder, then, that the quality of trial bundles is not what it used to be.