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Some court cases involve a lot of documents. Most court cases will run more smoothly if you are well organised.
It is important that you gather as much evidence as you need to support your side of the story. Once you have all your evidence, keep all your documents together. You will need them to prepare for a hearing, and may need them for settlement discussions or mediation.
Evidence can include:
For more information, see
A chronology is a timeline of events. A chronology should have the dates of relevant actions or events, a short description of what happened on each date and any documents you have relating to that date.
Case study -Bob and Jacqui
Bob put an ad in the local paper, looking for handyman work. Jacqui saw the ad and asked Bob to come over to her place. Jacqui and Bob walked around the house and looked at the work Jacqui wanted Bob to do. Jacqui agreed to pay Bob's hourly rate and to pay for the cost of any materials. Bob finished the work in 5 days and sent Jacqui a bill. Bob waited for 30 days but Jacqui didn't pay him. Bob called Jacqui a couple of times but she still didn't pay him. Bob decided to prepare a chronology of events before writing a letter of demand.
Sample: Bob's chronology of events.
Letters can go missing in the post and sometimes things can be misplaced. It is important that you keep copies of all letters and documents you send by post and fax transmission sheets for any faxes you send.
Make sure you store the originals in a safe place where you will not lose them.
When your case starts it is important to keep track of important dates in your case, such as when you:
It is also very important that you make a record of anything the court tells you to do and the date by which you have to do it.
Having a neat record of all important dates in your case can help with settlement discussions and prepare you for any questions the magistrate may ask you in the courtroom.
Lawyers going to court usually have a file with them containing all the documents about the case. The documents should be arranged in chronological order (from oldest to most recent). You may find it useful to do the same thing. Your document file can include:
Tabbing important documents in your court file with post it notes will allow you to find them easily when in the courtroom.
If you move or change your address, you need to let the court and the other party know.
In civil cases, you need to file a change of address for service form at court and give a copy to the other party. In criminal cases, you can let the court or prosecutor know about a change of address by contacting the court registry or officer in charge.