It’s the way I tell them.
I’m often heard to say, don’t ask a question unless you can deal with the answer.
I say it in restaurants – don’t ask me if I’m enjoying my meal unless you can handle me saying that the food was cold, or late, or both.
I say it on surveys – don’t ask me to rate the quality of your hotel unless you are prepared for me to say it wasn’t all that.
I say it to clients – don’t get me to ask the witness a question unless we are certain what the answer is going to be or we can prove what the answer should be, because if they say something else, it could completely undermine your case.
But advice like this is not just limited to what questions you ask. It should include what statements you make.
For example, don’t contact me on Linkedin (as some poor sap has just done) and tell me that you help people with similar backgrounds to me to sort out their financial arrangements when you know nothing about me and so cannot possibly know that you have helped someone with a similar background to me. To be fair, I hate anyone who tries to cold sell to me on social media, so whatever the poor guy had said he wouldn’t have got a good response.
Nevertheless, it is still a salient lesson. When preparing a defence in court proceedings, I have to go through each line of the claim, and say that it is admitted, not admitted or denied. If I say it’s denied, then I’m going to prove that I’m right. If I say it’s not admitted, then I’m going to make you prove that you are right. While there are risks to saying “not admitted” if I can easily prove that I’m right, in reality, it’s as much about tactics as anything else. I’m involved in several cases at the moment where Claimants are either relying on documents I know don’t exist, or on signatures that I can prove are forgeries, and referring to meetings that I can prove my client was physically incapable of attending.
So don’t put anything in your claim that you cannot prove is true, and be careful what you admit to if you think the other side are making things up.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. Good at asking questions and understanding the answers.