I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time travel.  The concept that you could go back and redo something.  Or not do it at all!

But it never occurred to me that it was really possible until today.  At the time of writing this, I am on the 9.22 from Watford to Euston, even though I didn’t leave home until 9.30.

I’ve clearly travelled back in time to get the earlier train so that I will comfortably make my 10.30 meeting.

Or perhaps the train was even later than I was, and actually the 9.22 didn’t get to Watford until 9.40.

Which just goes to show that sometimes, even the most straight forward of answers can be misleading.

If you ask the witness, “what train did you get?”, and they say, “the 9.22”, they are not lying, but it would still give the wrong impression.

However, if you ask the same witness, “what time did you reach the station?” you’ll get the answer, “9.35”, which gives you a completely different perspective on the situation.

Obviously I would never allow my client to lie to anyone, and if they did, I’d refuse to act for them.  However, a well drafted letter can often give a completely honest answer, whilst not saying anything incriminating, and it is for this reason that I encourage clients to tread a careful line between wanting to do as much as they can for themselves to keep the costs down, and instructing solicitors at the earliest opportunity, to prevent them from saying anything that they (or I!) may regret at a later stage.

Often you are not under an obligation to provide information to an opponent, especially if it looks like they are just on a fishing expedition.  A wise woman (my mother!) taught me the saying that it’s sometimes better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and have it known!

If you are in communication with an opponent, and are concerned about how your answers to any questions may be interpreted, here are my views:

    1. Think about whether you actually have to respond.  Just because they ask you a question, doesn’t automatically mean that you have to answer them.
    2. If you are going to answer, much information do you have to give them? It’s often fine to say “no” without necessarily justifying your answer.
    3. Consider why they want to know – is it a fishing expedition.
    4. Remember that you can’t prove a negative – but neither can they!
    5. Watch out for false economies. Sometimes failing to take legal advice at an early stage can end up costing you more in the long run.
    6. Whilst time travel may be possible in theory, it probably isn’t in practice – you’re not going to be able to go back and rewrite your response!

Kleyman & Co Solicitors.  The full service law firm.  Where time is always of the essence.