Finding Documents

Collect together the relevant documents - you have to do this

When you ask me to give you legal advice, or to draft a Letter of Claim or pleadings in a court or tribunal case, or an application to the Land Registry, you will need to provide me with copies (as computer files not on paper) of relevant documents which you have, or can obtain. You will also need to look for documents during the course of litigation, particularly at the Disclosure of Documents stage. The documents you have may be on paper, or they may be PDFs, JPGs, spreadsheets, MP3 audio files, or MP4 video files on your computer, tablet or mobile phone or emails "in the cloud" such as in Gmail. Whatever the form of the documents, and wherever they are located, you need to preserve the originals, and make copies. 

Depending what your case is about and on whether there is still relevant evidence available to be photographed, you may need to take photographs/videos of land, of buildings or of objects. 
You might need to take copies of webpages.

There may be relevant documents which you do not currently have but which you might be able to obtain by asking other people or organisations, public or private, if they can provide copies of documents they may have.

If your case concerns ownership and rights over land you might obtain historical aerial or ground-level photographsobtain historical maps, and/or obtain current maps such as an Ordnance Survey map. You might want to obtain a copy of the relevant part of the map of Adopted Highways (held by Highway Authorities such a county councils under the Highways Act 1980) or of the Definitive Map of Public Paths (also held by such authorities, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000). These may provide useful information about the land you are concerned with if it borders a highway or has a highway passing through it. 

If relevant you can obtain Wills from the Probate Registry. Some documents relevant to companies registered under the Companies Acts and limited liability partnerships can be obtained from Companies House. Documents for mutuals can be obtained from the FCA

Barristers do not investigate or collect evidence

Barristers do not investigate or collect evidence. The reason for this is that if matters get to the stage of litigation, the way in which evidence was collected might need to be proved and a barrister cannot act as a witness in the same case as they act as advocate. For example in case the date that a photograph was taken should be disputed it is usual for the person who took a photograph to say, in their witness statement, when they took it. What a website - e.g. the website of your opponent - contained on a particular day might be disputed so if a PDF copy of a webpage needs to be taken, you need to take the copy so that you can, if necessary at trial, formally confirm the URL and the date on which you took the copy. Google Earth allows you to select historical satellite imagery by date but the historical date of the image is not part of the saved image itself so you need to save the image so that you can confirm both the date that you obtained the image from Google Earth and the date of the historical image (as indicated by Google Earth when you selected it to save). Similarly, depending on the way you save it, or "print" it to PDF, copies of Google Street View images may or may not include the date of the image and/or the date that you obtained it from Google. So you yourself will need to carry out any investigations, searches, photography etc. which may be needed, and provide me with the copies of the photographs taken or documents found. If, when I am drafting an Opinion or carrying out other drafting work, it becomes apparent that you have not provided me with a key document but it is a document I can easily obtain online from a statutory public register (such as H M Land Registry or Companies House) I may, to save time, obtain a copy myself direct. In this case there is little risk that the way the document was obtained might become the subject of a dispute, because anyone can obtain a copy from the same statutory register. However you should not rely on me obtaining anything direct and you should carry out as much investigation/searching as you think appropriate given the amount of time you have and the importance of the matter to you. This includes searching the Land Registry or Companies House if relevant, as thoroughly as you consider the case warrants, even if I have obtained some documents direct from them.


Should I look for documents about past court/tribunal cases my opponent has been involved in?  

If your dispute is with a business or other organisation, and you suspect that the organisation has had similar disputes with other people in the past which have resulted in court or tribunal cases, you could look at records for previous court/tribunal cases. In fact it is relatively rare for past court cases to be relevant as no two cases are exactly alike, but if you have the time and wish to do so, you could make enquiries. Barristers look at court and tribunal cases which set legal precedents – generally decisions of the higher courts and tribunals - but they do not search for past cases involving the other party so, if this is to be done, you would need to do this.

In the past I have engaged solicitors - is correspondence between me and my former solicitors likely to be relevant?

Letters and emails sent by you to your solicitors or received by you from your solicitors might possibly be relevant but they will generally be privileged documents (unless the other side was copied in) and need to be kept separate from other (non-privileged) documents. Sometimes it is necessary to refer to these privileged documents but more often it is the correspondence between your solicitor and the other side (which is not privileged) which needs to be referred to and you should obtain from your former solicitor copies of all correspondence which your solicitor sent out/received from the other side, both letters and emails. Your solicitors may have sent you drafts of letters for your comments but you need to obtain copies of the letters as actually sent out by your solicitor to the other side.



This information page is designed to be used only by clients of John Antell who have entered into, or are about to enter into, an agreement for the provision of legal services. The information in it is necessarily of a general nature and is intended to be used only in conjunction with specific advice to the individual client about the individual case. This information page should not be used by, or relied on, by anyone else.

The information on this page about specific computer techniques is provided for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date at the time it was written but no responsibility for its accuracy, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by me. You should satisfy yourself, before using any of the techniques, software or services described, that the techniques are appropriate for your purposes and that the software or service is reliable.

This page was lasted updated in March 2019.   Disclaimer