How to Collate a Document Bundle

As I explained in my last post, the most important part in preparing the chronology, is collating a bundle of all relevant documents and then organising that bundle in chronological order.

If the document bundle is properly prepared, it could save a lot of work later on, as a complete document bundle:

  • can be used to obtain the initial advice;
  • will be the basis for later providing discovery or disclosure; and
  • will be the starting point for the preparation of  your evidence.

In large matters this may not be feasible, as it would not be economical or practical to prepare a comprehensive bundle for the initial advice.  In that case, it may be necessary to provide only the most relevant  documents to your lawyer.

Q. What documents are relevant?

A. Any document:

  • that records any agreement between you and the other side:
    • the contract;
    • order;
    • invoice;
    • credit application;
    • any document in which the terms of the agreement is recorded including letters, emails, voice messages, sms texts etc
  • that records the performance of the agreement
  • in any file you maintained relating to the matter or project;
  • that may assist you in recollecting the events:
    • diary notes
    • emails;
    • outlook calendar entries;
    • photographs (including all meta data – including time and gps location where the photograph was taken);
    • telephone records;

Basically, any document in any form or on any media that either assists you in your case, or that may assist the other side in the case against you.

So that the documents in the bundle may be used later for discovery and evidence, it is important that the document is not altered by you.  If you wish to add comments to explain a document to your lawyer, place those comments on a separate cover page or post it note.

There is no problem if during the project, you made notes or annotated the document.  Those notes merely form part of the evidence.

There is no point in hiding from your lawyer, a document that may damage your case. Most negative documents can be explained. He needs to be aware of the document and deal with it. If the parties are required to provide discovery, there are ethical obligations upon your lawyer (and you) to ensure that all relevant documents are disclosed to other side. A lot of documents may be privileged from disclosure, for example if they are subject to legal professional privilege. Failure to disclose a negative document, when it is eventualy discovered (as it will be) almost in all cases fatally effects the credibility of that party.

It is important to preserve the meta data associated with the document. A lot of the relevant documents are now stored electronically. Where possible, those documents should be given to your lawyer in electronic form. It is important to preserve the meta data. That meta data not only includes the file attributes, but also in which folder the document was stored on the system. It is important to ensure that the metadata is not altered. In the case of Word for example, opening the document for review, and then saving it will alter important meta.

Metadata also exists in hard copy document. That metadata includes when it was created, who authored it, when it was received etc. Some of that information may be evident from the face of document. Other metadata such as what folder and cabinet it was stored in, what room it was located in, who had possession of it are not discernable. It could be important to preserve that metadata as well.

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