Explaining the Procrustean Bed

My post Zander sees his Woolf CPR predictions fulfilled refers you to an article by Michael Zander QC.

As an aside, a generation deprived of a classical education may be puzzled by Zander’s reference to a “Procrustean bed”, as I admit I was when I first saw it in a footnote to the old Rules of the Supreme Court. Lord Donaldson had used the expression in relation to the size of appeal bundles. I have to say I assumed in my ignorance that this was a geological metaphor. What he meant was that it was not necessary to pad out the bundles to the recommended size, nor omit necessary pages to meet the suggested size. The reference was to the apparently genial host Procrustes, who would invite passers-by to lie on his bed. He would then stretch them or amputate their limbs as required to fulfill his boast that his bed was just the right size for everyone.

One commentator refers to Procrustes drily as “the ancient champion of enforced conformity”. We do not, of course, want such precise conformity from our judges, ancient or not, but some degree of consistency would be nice, at least in respect of disclosure orders. We do not need the same answer every time, but the right answer, a proportionate answer, based on information provided by the parties “at the earliest practical date, if possible at the first Case Management Conference”.

The quotation comes from Paragraph 2A.2 of the Practice Direction to Part 31 CPR. That involves the exercise of informed discretion. Reading the damn thing and applying its provisions is not, however, discretionary.


About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in Case Management, Court Rules, CPR, eDisclosure, Electronic disclosure, Judges, Part 31 CPR. Bookmark the permalink.

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