If you struggle to remember something like who exactly attended a meeting at work two weeks ago, how are you going to remember enough detail when it’s a serious problem and you have to provide evidence to support what you say?
Making accurate records and gathering evidence of what’s happening over time in a structured way, means you can confidently document the key issues. When you read the records weeks afterwards you will be reminded of details that might otherwise have slipped your memory. When you need to prove what happened, your evidence will be ready to use and will help you get the outcome you want.
Here’s how keeping records helps you and some tips on making good records:
1. Get things in perspective.
When your mind’s filled with anxiety, making a record in writing of each event that has occurred helps you put the problem into perspective. It’s a good way to clarify for yourself the seriousness and extent of the problem. Then you’re better able to decide how important it is to get it resolved and to think about how you might achieve it.
2. Keep your records in a structured way.
Each time something happens make a record as soon as you can afterwards. It’s what the police are trained to do, for good reason, so follow their example. If you don’t make records when the event is fresh in your mind it’s easier for someone challenging you to undermine what you’re saying and question your recollection.
Always note the date and time it happened and where it was. Give a description of the event in enough detail to make sure a reader, who doesn’t know you, can understand it. Tell the truth and don’t exaggerate. If you reacted badly, say so and explain why. If you’ve been threatened, quote the actual words used, including any swear words, to bring your story to life and so it’s clear how serious it is. Keep safely, with your records, anything you have to support what you write e.g. texts, emails, photos etc. Record whether there are witnesses, giving names and contact numbers and any role they have. For example indicate if it’s a work colleague or friend. Finally state the seriousness in terms of its impact on you.
3. Do it well, persist and don’t give up.
You might be facing false accusations, for example being criticised by your ex about how you are behaving with your children during an acrimonious divorce, or being harassed or bullied at work by your boss who tells you that if you complain you won’t be believed. Or maybe you’re being terrified by a persistent stalker but the police don’t seem to be taking it seriously enough. In situations like these, making your own records could reap huge rewards.
It’s hard work but make the effort to do it well and don’t be tempted to give up. Good clear records could be the difference between being believed or not and getting the result you want or not.
4. Organise your records by date and time, a chronology
This so you can share it with an advisor or decision maker and save time (and money).
Chronologies, meaning an account of events over time, are a common way for cases to be presented in court and are key to showing the history of a problem. If you’ve kept a complete account of what’s happened using the ONRECORD mobile app (download at here) it will be in chronological order and structured. So your chronology will already have been done for you.
Being able to show your chronology to a solicitor or other adviser will make it easier and quicker for you to get advice. It will also save you money as it will make the job of the professional advisor easier and less time consuming. You won’t have to sit with them for a couple of hours or more trying to explain your problem, giving examples and racking your brain for the information they need. Your advisor can get to the nub of the issues straightaway and only has to ask additional questions if you need to explain what you’ve written. Your chronology can be used as the basis for any statement you’re required to make to prove your case, also saving time.
This means that you can spend your money on getting advice and representation, the real job of a lawyer, and not on telling your lawyer the story whilst they make notes. Lawyers are very expensive notetakers! Only use them to do the work you can’t do yourself.
For lots more guidance and advice on keeping records and giving the best evidence, go to our YouTube channel.