Monthly Archives: May 2012

How to prepare a Chronology

Providing a detailed and accurate chronology to your lawyer is generally the most critical instruction that you need to give to him.

Q. What is a Chronology?

A. A Chronology is a schedule that records all major events in a table form.

For example.

A Customer owes you $15,000 for a goods supplied and delivered by you to him on 30 June 2011. The value of the goods were in fact $25,000 but he paid you a deposit of $10,000 on the 1 June 2011. He had in fact ordered the goods from you on 1 May 2011. The goods were provided on credit after the customer opening a credit account with you on 1 February 2011. You had sent a letter requesting payment of the outstanding debt on 14 July 2011. You called him on the 21 July 2011, where he promised to pay you. You sent him an email to him on 28 July. He replied to your email on 1 August.

The chronology would provide

Date Event Related Document
1 February 2011 Customer requests that a Credit Account be open.He signs Credit Application and Guarantee. Credit Application dated 1 February 2011
14 February 2011 Credit Application is approved. Letter dated 14 February 2011
1 May 2011 Customer requests the the supply of 25000 widgets for delivery before 30 June 2011 for cost of $25,000.An agreement is entered into where you agree to supply him the 25000 widgets for a total cost of $25,000 on the condition that he pays a deposit of $10,000 by 1 June 2011. Letter or agreement confirming order and terms dated 1 May 2011
1 June 2011 Receive payment from Customer Receipt dated 1 June 2011
30 June 2011 25000 widgets delivered to Customer Delivery Note dated 30 June 2011Invoice dated 30 June 2011
14 July 2011 Letter sent to customer requesting payment Letter dated 14 July 2011
21 July 2011 Telephoned Customer. Customer said “I am sorry, I will pay you next week Diary note?
28 July 2011 Email sent to Customer referring to telephone conversation and requesting payment Email 28 July 2011
1 August 2011 Email received from Customer advising delay in payment. Email 1 August 2011

Q. How do you prepare one?

A. You start by preparing the bundle of documents.

Except in the simplest of case it is not possible to correctly recollect facts and events without referring to contemporaneous documents. In the example above, almost the whole chronology could have been prepared by just referring to the document bundle.

In real life is not that easy.

Most cases are a lot more complex involving hundreds of events.

Your record keeping may not be perfect or complete.

In those cases the document bundle is an essential reference to assist in your recollection. It provides time markers to give order to your recollection.

My next blog will discuss how to collate of the document bundle.

What do you need to do so that your lawyer can collect your debt?

Q. You are owed money, the debtor refuses to pay, what can you do?

A. You sue the bastard.

Q. But legal costs are expensive, how can you minimise those costs?

A. You try to give your lawyer detailed, concise and complete instructions to reduce what work he has to do for you.

Yes, he is working for you, but that is the point. The more work that he has to do for you, the more he will charge you. Every minute that you save him, will save you $6.

Before meeting with him, you should do all the preliminary work to organise and present all relevant facts and documents to your lawyer in a way so that he can quickly review them and be in a position to advise you the best course of action.

  • Unfortunately your Lawyer will need to carefully review all relevant documents about your claim, but his work can be made a lot easier (i.e. quicker and cheaper) if the documents are provided to him in a chronological order and are accompanied with a written chronology of relevant facts.
  • You do not save costs by only giving him half the documents or half the story. He will waste a lot of time trying to understand the case only to eventually realise he does not have complete instructions
  • You do not save money by giving him thousands of marginally irrelevant documents, and then express concern when he confesses that that the relevance of one of those documents to a particular issue escaped him.
  • You have to work as a team, he must be able to freely contact you to clarify an issue or fact. The instructions that you give him may not be consistent with the documents. Inaccurate recollection happens, it is almost invariably innocent, but it is important that those issue be resolved promptly.

Hello world!

Hello, I am a commercial litigation lawyer from Sydney, Australia.

I would like to provide accurate efficient and practical advice to clients.

I want to write about topics that I hope will provide tips and advice to persons or companies that may be needing legal assistance, so that they be in a position to provide full and complete instructions to their lawyer.