You may think that keeping a diary is as old fashioned as sock hops, hopscotch and talking to people instead of using text, but actually it’s the kind of “trick” that could save you a fortune, and not just at Halloween.

Often by the time a client comes to me with a problem, they’ll be good at giving me an overall summary of where they are. However, when I start asking detailed questions, such as who was actually at the meeting, what day did the contract start or how many times did you chase for payment before coming to me, the facts are as hard as the candy I’m going to be palming off on the neighbours kids on 31st October.

Obviously I’m not suggesting that you get out your “my little pony” pink fluffy diary (remember those – I didn’t have one, I had a Spider-Man one!) but I am suggesting that you keep notes as you go. In an ideal world, you and the parties you are dealing with would sign a contract at the beginning of your dealings and you’d put it in a draw and forget about it, and nothing else in your life would go wrong. Of course this isn’t an ideal world, so here are a few tips for keeping yourself safe on Halloween and all other nights of the year.

  1. If you’re not going to have a properly written contract, at least have some notes on what you are doing what they are doing, when and for how much. Even a hand written note (with the date on it) can be useful evidence or at least a good reminder to you if I have to draft a witness statement for you.
  2. If things are going wrong (e.g. with a partner or another party) keep a list of conversations and events. If he’s persistently picking the kids up late or cancelling having them, jot it down. It may be helpful evidence, but it may also focus your mind on the fact that actually, when you add up all the late pick ups compared to the on time ones, it’s not really that ghoulish!
  3. If you are going to keep notes, try to keep them all together, in the same place and in a similar format – it will reduce the risk of the other side arguing that something has been manufactured retrospectively. Hand written notes are great, but notes on your phone are also good – you can email yourself every time something relevant happens.
  4. Be careful who you share the notes with. You might not want anyone else to know they exist.
  5. Keep the notes safe – how frustrating to have done all of this, and then lose them before you have a chance to use them!

Hopefully things will get worked out, then the notes can be filed away and you’ll never have to look at them again, but if not, you can bring them to me and we can sort out the good stuff from the bad and start thinking about whose been naughty and whose been nice.

Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. All treats, no tricks.