Small claims trial bundles and the guidance the courts give to people preparing for small claims court hearings can be limited. In particular, it can be unclear as to what to provide the court and when, and also whether it needs to be sent to the other party. Our ultimate guide walks you through how to prepare for trial.
In a very recent court judgment, a senior judge heavily criticised a firm of solicitors for including 2,000 pages of “largely irrelevant” documents in a trial bundle. This was a claim that was not a small claim but it is important to note because it shows the attitude of Judges to the amount of documents that ought to be produced to the court at trial.
Small claims trial bundles or the way the evidence is put before the court, need to be considered carefully. Too much documentation, much of which is irrelevant will likely result in criticism from the court. On the other hand, you do not want to risk omitting an important (or potentially important) document from being before the court at trial. There is a balancing exercise.
In this particular reported case, the Judge said there were six volumes of documents (amounting to around 2,000 pages) before the court, the vast majority of which was irrelevant. The Judge warned parties that it had the power to impose costs sanctions for parties putting unnecessary documentation before the court. In small claims, costs sanctions are particularly unlikely but there is still good reason to avoid throwing the kitchen sink at the court and other party by flooding them with irrelevant paperwork.
Unnecessary documentation makes it more difficult for the Judge and the parties to get through the evidence and to ensure that the important information is seen and understood by the Judge. In small claims, the hearings can be very short indeed, likely a few hours, so it is crucial to present your case in a logical order which is easy for the Judge to get through and understand. There will not be time for the Judge to consider every aspect of a claim in detail.