The Electronic Working Pilot Scheme (Practice Direction 51O) does not presently apply to the SCCO. Moreover, the creation of a single PDF document with bookmarks is unlikely to be cost-effective other than for very modest cases. There is no other provision within the CPR which bears on the use of electronic documents.
Consequently, the use of electronic documents in support of the receiving party’s bill of costs is entirely a matter of discretion for each of the Costs Judges. Practices will vary and, in some respects, will depend entirely upon the individual circumstances of the case. The following comments can therefore be regarded as no more than a broad indication of what may be acceptable in any given case:
Laptops loaded with documents separated into folders or similar so that navigating the documents is relatively easy is the preferred option. Memory sticks or flash drives are considered to be problematic regarding security and are unlikely to be accepted. Similarly, Internet based file hosting services which allow access to documents centrally are not considered to be secure and also suffer from the fragile Wi-Fi reception.
If the Judge is prepared to use a laptop to view documents at a hearing, the receiving party needs to consider the possibility of providing (a) passwords and (b) training on the particular system as necessary before the hearing takes place. Experience has shown that ease of access to email traffic in particular is likely to determine whether viewing documents electronically is likely to be helpful.