Naming Document Copies - PDFs


General Principles

Copies of documents, created for legal proceedings, should generally be in PDF format (or JPEG for digital photos only) and be named with the date of the document, in yyyy-mm-dd format, together with a concise description of the document which is sufficient (together with the document date) to enable anyone to quickly identify the document. The concise description should include an indication of the type of document - letter, agreement, conveyance, etc. - followed, particularly for common document types, by some further brief identifying information, as in the example below:


2018-07-31   Letter Smith to Jones 


There should be one PDF per document containing all the pages of the document
  • There should not be one PDF per page (unless, of course, it is a single page document)
  • Each PDF should contain only one document

exceptions: (1) for a letter with enclosures, the PDF should contain all pages of the letter followed by all pages of the enclosure; (2) some legal documents will include a number of documents organised in a particular way with legal pages preceding them. In this case it is important that the legal document as a whole should be in a single PDF.   



Descriptions for different kinds of documents

If a document is a letter, the word Letter is the obvious word to describe it and the names of sender are recipient are the obvious further identifying information to use in the description, but for less common document types you may not have come across before it can be less easy to decide what description to use and the guidance below may help.    


Formal Legal Documents

It should be easy to find the document type (Deed, Agreement, Particulars  of Claim, Defence, Grant, etc.) for a formal legal document because it should appear prominently on the first page of the document. It is not always easy to know what further information to include in the concise description but, because there will probably only be a few documents of each type, simply naming the PDF with the document type alone is often sufficient when combined with the date


2018-06-22   Agreement    


but for witness statements (and statutory declarations) you should include at least the surname of the person who made and signed the statement:


2018-05-09   Witness Statement of John Smith 


In the case of a document involving registered land the registered title number should always be included in the file name:


2018-04-15 AB123456 Transfer    


In matters concerning registered land there will probably be quite a number of Transfers but, even then, because land transactions are not very frequent simply naming a document Transfer is, together with the title number and date, normally sufficient. If, however, there are two different Transfers on the same date (e.g. if land is bought and part of it sold off, simultaneously) then more information should be given - e.g.


2018-04-15   AB123456 Transfer Smith to Jones    

2018-04-15   AB123456 Transfer of Part Jones to Jenkins   


Formal Business Documents

Business documents  which have a degree of formality about them, such as Purchase Orders and Invoices, will have a reference number which should  be included in the concise description:

2018-03-09   Purchase Order AB1207

2018-03-22   Invoice 100765

  

Letters

Traditionally not more than one letter is sent by a given sender to a given recipient on any particular day (because the sender must wait for a reply in the post before sending a further letter) so a letter would be named e.g. 

2018-02-25   Letter John Smith to Paul Jones   

Occasionally some urgent development prompts a further letter the same day and this would be indicated like this:

2018-02-25   Letter John Smith to Paul Jones (2nd Letter) 

If you were the sender of the email or letter you might instinctively be inclined to name it just 2018-02-25 Letter sent to Jones but it is important not to to this but to always give the name of sender and addressee, so that the name will be meaningful for everyone concerned with litigation, otherwise you will end up having to rename the PDF later on.

It is not necessary to use a name which summarises the content of a letter and generally the date and names of sender and recipient are sufficient. In fact generally you should not summarise the letter contents in the PDF file name because it should be possible to easily identify a letter from its name just by glancing at it without having to read it and mentally summarise its contents. 

 

Emails

For emails it is essential to include a time, as well as a date, in the PDF name as there will often be several emails between the same parties in the course of a day. Emails are normally named like this:

2018-01-05   Email at 22.44 John Smith to Paul Jones

However it is recognised that because in many cases there are a large number of emails, often an app is used to generate PDF copies in bulk and the PDFs generated may use a different naming convention from the above which may nevertheless be acceptable if the app cannot be configured to generate a name in exactly the above format. For example, depending on the app the PDFs may be generated with names like this:

2018-01-29 22.44.31 - RE: Our meeting tomorrow

2018-01-29T22-44 [John Smith] RE: Our meeting tomorrow

The minimum requirement is that the PDF name should commence with the date the email was sent in year, month, day format followed by the time in hour, minute, second format, so that the emails appear in chronological order. The time zone used for the time should be consistent - i.e. all emails should be named with a date and time using the same time zone. If most emails were sent and received within the UK then the local time in the UK should be used for all emails including the minority of emails sent and/or received in other time zones. Alternatively GMT can be used rather than the local time but the same zone, whatever it is, should be used consistently.   


Other Document Types

Where a document does not have its document type actually printed on it, there are no rigid rules about exactly what word you should use to describe it but you should try to use a concise name which most people would instantly understand, avoiding less well known abbreviations. Here are some examples:



Text  

Video  

Report 

Bank Credit  

Bank Statement 

Webpage www.brownandsmith.co.uk/home

Audio Recording 

Claim Form

Particulars of Claim

Defence

Notice of Hearing

Directions Questionnaire – Claimant

Order

Judgment



For land documents the document type will generally be one of the following:

Abstract

Agreement

Application 1st Reg                    (Application Form for first registration of land - e.g. form FR1 or 1B)
Application to Change                (Application Form to change an already registered title - e.g. form AP1)
Application Form                        (Any other type of application form)

Assent

Assignment

Charge

Conveyance

Deed

Indenture

Lease

Licence

LLC Search                                (Certificate of Search of Register of Local Land Charges) 

Plan

Statement of Truth

Statutory Declaration

Sub-Charge

Transfer

Transfer of Part                             

Note 1: a plan which forms part of a Conveyance, Transfer or other document should be combined with the Conveyance, Transfer, etc. in a single PDF named with a document type of Conveyance, Transfer, etc. A document type of Plan is generally only used where there is an unaccompanied plan.     

Note 2: a List of Documents form (form DL or A13) accompanying an Application Form can be combined with the Application Form in a single PDF named with a document type of Application Form or can be separate using a document type of List of Documents.  


Photos

Photos should be named with the name of the general subject like this:

2017-12-18   Photo of Brookwood garden

(digital photos should be JPG files: non-digital photos can be scanned in as PDFs) 

In cases concerning how land was configured or used in the past, often family photographs are used because they happen to show some feature (such as a wall, hedge, or vegetable patch) in the background even though that it not why they were taken at the time. In this case the name should concentrate on what is relevant for the purposes of the current case  - e.g. "Photo of Brookwood garden - wall in distance" rather than "Photo of children playing croquet". 

Every PDF must have a different name. If two photos were taken on the same date, and really the same subject description is appropriate for both, add the original name which the JPG file was given by your phone/camera like this to ensure that the PDF names are unique: 

2017-12-18   Photo of Brookwood garden 20171218140112

2017-12-18   Photo of Brookwood garden 20171218140341



FAQs

What should I do about exhibits and legal documents with appendices?

Some legal documents will include a number of documents organised in a particular way with legal pages preceding them. Examples are an Exhibit (the first page of which will be a signed frontsheet) and a Particulars of Claim document with an Appendix.


Particulars of Claim - Appendix

Exhibit JJS2 - Photos


In the case of such legal documents, the document as a whole should be in a single PDF so that the arrangement of the individual documents within it is preserved in the PDF copy. It might also be necessary to create individual PDFs of the individual documents in addition

It is good practice for an Exhibit containing photos to only contain photos and for pages of the exhibit to be numbered - e.g. if it is Exhibit JJS2, the individual pages (photos) would be numbered JJS2-01, JJS2-02, JJS2-03 etc. In this particular case, rather than have a single PDF for the whole Exhibit the Exhibit frontsheet would be one PDF and each photo would be a separate PDF named as shown below:

Exhibit JJS2 - Photos
Exhibit JJS2-01 Photo of Brookwood garden - spring 1992 exact date unknown 1992-04-01
Exhibit JJS2-02 Photo of garden wall 2010-11-22
Exhibit JJS2-03 Photo of vegetable patch 2018-07-22          


What should I do with email attachments?

Email attachments should be included, along with the email message, in a single PDF. 


What should I do if there are pages missing from a document?

Where pages of a document are missing, for example a report with page 5 missing, this should be indicated thus: 

Report by Dr Smith (pages missing) 

This is to alert anyone looking at the document that (a) pages are missing and (b) their omission is not due to any paper misfeed when you scanned in the documents: on the contrary you found the pages missing when you came to scan in the paper documents (or when you came to copy electronic documents). 

Sometimes, rather than simply saying “pages missing” it is possible to be more specific whilst still being concise: 

Conveyance Smith to Jones (plan missing) 


What should I do if the document is illegible?

If a document is partially illegible, this should be indicated thus:

Conveyance Smith to Jones (partially illegible)  

This is to alert anyone looking at the document that the illegibility is not due to inadequate copying by you (e.g. selecting too low a DPI setting) but because the original document you are copying is only partially illegible, so that they know that there is no point in requesting a better copy and the only thing to do is, if required, to arrange to view the original. 

What should I do if a deed or other formal document is unsigned?

In the case of many documents, such as most invoices, it is not to be expected that they would be signed, but where there is a document which has a place set apart for a signature, but has not in fact been signed, this should be indicated thus: 

Deed John Fisher and Peter Fisher (unsigned) 

to draw attention to the fact that the document is an unsigned copy. Often the different parties signing a deed, agreement, etc. are based at some distance from each other and one party will sign the document, take a copy, and then send off the deed, signed at that stage only by them, to the other party for their signature. So having a copy of a deed signed by only one person is not unusual but if there are no signatures at all on a document which has places set apart for signature, that should be indicated.


What if I do not know the exact date of a document?

This question usually arises in the case of older photographs taken with a non-digital camera but could apply to other document types as well.

If you do not know the exact date you should, when making a copy, put the approximate date, to be best of your knowledge, at the end of the PDF name accompanied by words making clear it is an approximation.You still need to put a full date (year month and day of month) at the start of the name - so that the photo appears in the (approximately) correct order after older documents and before newer documents - but the words at the end of the name make clear that that full date at the start is for sorting purposes only and the exact date is in fact unknown.

For example, if you know that a photo was taken in about 1992 but it could have been a year or two earlier or later, name it like this: 1992-01-01   Photo of Brookwood garden - circa 1992 exact year unknown  

If you know the year and roughly the time of year, within a month or two, you can give the approximate date by season as in these examples:

1994-04-01   Photo of Brookwood garden - spring 1994 exact date unknown

1994-05-01   Photo of Brookwood garden - late spring-early summer 1994 exact date unknown

1994-07-01   Photo of Brookwood garden - summer 1994 exact date unknown  

1994-10-01   Photo of Brookwood garden - autumn 1994 exact date unknown  

1995-01-01   Photo of Brookwood garden - winter 1994-1995 exact date unknown 


If you know the year and month but not the exact day of the month: 

1995-08-01   Photo of Brookwood garden - early August 1995 exact date unknown 

1995-08-31   Photo of Brookwood garden - late August 1995 exact year unknown   


What if I know a date of a letter is wrong?

Even if you happen to know that you did not send out a letter on the date that you signed it, but a day or two later, you should, nevertheless still enter as a document date the date on the letter. This is because that is the date that will be used when people are referring to the letter. Everybody knows that letters do not arrive instantly so everybody will expect that the letter will have arrived a few days after the date it bears. However if you happen to know that there was an unusually long delay between the date on the letter and the date it was posted you should still enter the document date exactly as it is on the letter, but in the concise document description you should enter the date that it was posted in brackets:

2016-07-20   Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones (posted 10 Aug 2016)

Sometimes a document bears a date which is clearly a mistake. For example a letter may bear the date “5th January 2012” but commence “Thank you for your letter of 28th December 2012...”. In such a case the document date you enter should be what is believed to be the true date - e.g. 5th January 2013 - and the date the document actually bears should be given in brackets in the concise document description:

2013-01-05   Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones (misdated 05 Jan 2012)


What about email chains?

When someone replies to an email, usually the email system will automatically put the text of the message they are replying to after the new text they type, and as email messages go back and forth the email can end up with a chain of quoted messages, but the date and time of the email is always the date and time at the top in the header (the header is the part at the top where is says From, To, Subject, Time/Date).

Don't attempt to enter more than one date at the start of the filename as this will result in the document appearing in the wrong place, chronologically. For example, do not use 2017-03-29 to 2017-04-21 Emails  John Smith and Lucy Jones but simply name the email in the usual way with the date/time from the header - e.g. 

2017-04-21   Email at 12.45 John Smith to Lucy Jones

   

What about text message conversations?

Unlike email, the text messaging app on a phone does not quote the message it is replying to. However there is no easy way of making a copy of a text message other than to display it on your phone and take a screenshot, and because a single text message does not usually fill up a phone screen you will usually end up with a screenshot photo containing several text messages in a conversation. You should make sure however (by scrolling and/or expanding the display as necessary before taking each screenshot) that each conversation screenshot contains only messages for a single day, not multiples days, and then name the screenshot photo like this:

2017-04-25   Texts 09.05 to 13.22 John Smith and Lucy Jones   


Should I add disclosure list numbers to file names?

In most legal proceedings there is a disclosure of documents stage at which each party is obliged to send to the other party a list - usually a numbered list - of the documents it proposes to rely on at trial and often also (depending on the court's/tribunal's order) other relevant documents the party has as well. It is useful to be able to identify which party has disclosed each document and to do this an identifier is added immediately after the date like this:

2018-08-15   C12 Letter Smith to Jones  

The letter C indicates that the document was disclosed by the Claimant and C12 indicates that it is document number 12 on the Claimant's Disclosure List. D is used for Defendant, A for Applicant, R for Respondent etc.
The rules of most courts and tribunals require documents to be listed individually on a disclosure list so if it is a numbered disclosure list each document will have its own number. If, exceptionally, a party is allowed to list documents on its disclosure list as groups - e.g. "12.   Ten photos of Brookwood garden" then an alphabetic suffix should be used for each document in that group entry - e.g. C12a, C12b, C12c, etc.  

Generally at the trial, at the end of the legal process, the court/tribunal will require a paginated and indexed bundle of documents containing all documents to be referred to at the trial and in the interests of efficiency the court/tribunal will normally want there to be only a single copy of each document, unless there are good reasons to do otherwise. One good reason to do otherwise would be if the documents are not quite identical - e.g. if one side has made an annotation on a letter received so that that copy if different from the unannotated copy which the sender has kept, but if the documents are identical (or the only differences are minor blemishes caused by the  photocopying process used when the sender made a copy before sending out the letter, for example) then a single copy may be used and it this case that copy would be named as in the following example:

2018-08-15   C12 =D15 Letter Smith to Jones   

In the above example the document is the copy disclosed by the Claimant (it having been checked that the copy disclosed by the Defendant is identical). If the copy disclosed by the Defendant is used then it would be named as in the following example.
 
2018-08-15   D15 =C12 Letter Smith to Jones  

Some courts/tribunals allow or require the parties to attach certain key items of documentary evidence as an appendix to their pleadings at the start of the case. Even if a party has provided documents at the start of the case in an appendix it is good practice, for completeness, for those documents to still be included in the party's disclosure list (at the disclosure of documents stage) but, in case this is not done, so that there are some documents provided by the other side for which there is no disclosure list number, you should use x instead of the number, like this:

2018-08-15 Dx Letter Smith to Jones


Where on a document can I find the date of the document?

For many documents - letters, emails, invoices, etc. - the date of the document is obvious but here are some tips for documents where it may be less obvious.

  • A document which is a deedconveyanceindenture or similar may have a backsheet - i.e. a page at the end with the name of the document in parallel lines - and, if so, that backsheet may also happen to contain the document date. If there is no backsheet then you may have to look at the initial words on the first page to find out the date. For example it may say "This CONVEYANCE is made on the Fifteenth day of September in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty Two...".
  • If there is more than one date on a document then the date of the document will usually be the most recent date on it. So if an agreement is signed by two people and there are different dates next to each signature, the date of the document is the date that the last person signed it.
  • Sometimes the document you are making a PDF copy of will itself be a copy. If it is a "certified copy" this means that it is a copy which was created by someone such as a solicitor who endorsed the copy with words such as "I certify that this is a true copy of..." followed by their signature and date. In that case the most recent date on the document will be the date next to the certifier's signature but you should not generally use that as the date of the document because that is just the date of the copy certification, not the actual date of the original document - use the most recent date on the document other than the copy certification endorsement date.
  • If you print out a copy of a historical Ordnance Survey map, the date of printing might appear but it is the date (month and year, or year if that is all which is provided) of the historical map itself which should be used, not the date of printing.
  • An Official Copy of a Register of Title from the Land Registry will have and Edition date and, in addition, it will say e.g. This official copy shows the entries on the register of title on 03 AUG 2018 at 16:42:50  It is this official copy date (not the Edition date) which should be used as the date when naming the PDF copy you are creating.
  • An Official Copy of a Title Plan from the Land Registry will have an initial page saying e.g. This official copy is issued on 03 August and shows the state of this title plan on 03 August 2018 at 17:22:15. The title plan itself may have an indication of when the plan was created (often in a circular "stamp" on the bottom right) but it is the official copy date (not the circular stamp date) which should be used when naming the PDF copy you are creating.
  • Some documents contain a chronological list of events, including sometimes the dates of execution of deeds of other documents perhaps with some extracts from the wording of those documents. Such chronological list documents might be called logsregisters, or abstractsSometimes the date of the chronological list document itself is not obvious and people concentrate on the date of the first item set out. but the first item will, of course, if the entries are in chronological order, be the date of the earliest item whereas it is the date of the most recent item - at the end - which is a better guide to the date of the chronological list document itself, since it obviously cannot be dated earlier that the most recent event or document it refers to.Sometimes the extract from a conveyance includes schedules which themselves refer to documents, and those document dates may be written in the margin - be careful not to confuse the date of the most recent conveyance extracted with the (earlier) date of the last document listed in a schedule at the end of the most recent conveyance extracted.                     
  • A particular type of chronological list, used in the old system of (unregistered) conveyancing is called a Abstract of Title (or Epitome of Title). The purpose of these was partly to summarise the basis - i.e. the series of conveyances - by which a seller of property claimed to be able to prove that they were the rightful owner and entitled to sell, and partly to set out actual extracts from documents themselves in an age before photocopiers became widely available. Some Abstracts of Title actually only contain an extract from a single conveyance (e.g. if the seller had owned the property for a long time so that earlier conveyances were not necessary to prove title) and in this case it makes sense to give the Abstract of Title document a date which is the date of the only conveyance set out in it (treating the Abstract of Title document in a similar way to a certified copy - see above) and call the document an Abstract from Conveyance, but if the Abstract of Title contains extracts from two or more conveyances or other documents the Abstract of Title document itself should be given the date when it was written. Sometimes the date the Abstract was written is not obvious but it can often be found in manuscript in the left hand margin on the first page. Sometimes people concentrate on the date of the first extract printed in the margin but the date of the first extract will, of course, if there are two or more extracts in chronological order, be the date of the earliest conveyance whereas it is the date of the most recent conveyance extract - at the end - which is a better guide to the date of the Abstract of Title document itself since the date the Abstract of Title was written obviously cannot be earlier than the most recent conveyance or other document it refers to. Sometimes the extract from a conveyance includes schedules which themselves refer to documents, and those document dates may be written in the margin - be careful not to confuse the date of the most recent conveyance extracted with the (earlier) date of the last document listed in a schedule at the end of the most recent conveyance extracted.                    


Disclaimer

This information page is designed to be used only by clients of John Antell who have entered 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 October 2018. Disclaimer