“You should minute telephone conversations as they are valuable evidence later on” advises Emma Moore, Senior Associate Solicitor in the Dispute Resolution department.
Accurate recall of telephone conversations can be difficult at the best of times, but even more so when under pressure and under the scrutiny of a barrister or a judge in court proceedings. Attendance notes or diary notes taken at the time of the conversation, when what was discussed is clear and fresh in your mind, can prove to be vital contemporaneous evidence in proceedings and in negotiations in a dispute.
Witness statements form the basis of the parties’ evidence in proceedings before a Court or Tribunal. Attendance notes and diary notes can be referred to within and exhibited to witness statements. Answers given in evidence by witnesses are assessed against contemporaneous documents and other evidence on the relevant issues. In any case, the credibility of the witnesses is key and credibility can be greatly assisted by contemporaneous evidence, as per one of the findings of the Court of Appeal in the case of Re Mumtaz Properties Limited .
“Contemporaneous written documentation is of the very greatest importance in assessing credibility”.
The ability to recount details of a conversation by reference to contemporaneous attendance notes is a valuable one because it enables the witness to refer to and recollect events first hand. Furthermore, such notes significantly reduce an opponent’s ability to claim that the witness’s evidence is flawed and/or that their recollection came from what the witness had heard from others, i.e. hearsay, rather than their own personal knowledge.
Preparing notes may appear excessive and unnecessary, particularly with the busy lives we lead, and it can be tempting to “do it tomorrow” however, care and time taken in recording details of conversations and meetings as and when they take place can win cases and may therefore prove to be time well spent.
If you would like to speak to Emma please contact her on 01737 854 577 or email [email protected]