Naming Documents in DCS


General Principles

The Document Title should be a concise description of the document which is sufficient (when taken 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 - email, letter, agreement, conveyance, etc. - followed, particularly for common document types, by some further brief identifying information, as in the example below:

 Document Title Document Date
 
 Email at 15.44 John Smith to Paul Jones 

 
 9 February 2018 

It is a fundamental principle of naming documents that the Document Title you assign, together with the Document Date, should be sufficient to enable someone else to easily identify the document. Imagine that someone else has a large number of documents, in paper form, spread out on a huge long table in front of them. Of course most people have more sophisticated methods of managing documents than that but if you think of someone looking along a long table that will help you to think about the general mental process involved in someone looking for a document and verifying that they have found the right document. Our imaginary person looking along the long table should be able, just given a Document Title and Date, to quickly locate the document and be sure that the document they have found is the right one. This means that the key details in the Document Title should be such that it is easy for the person looking along the long table to spot the document. Someone can see, even from a distance, that a document is a photo or a letter or an email or some other document type, so you should always include the document type. Then looking closer at a document it is usually easy to see the date - depending on the document type you know roughly where on the page to look for the date. Then to be sure they have the right document they need some easy-to-spot-and-check detail in the document. For an email the obvious detail to quote would be the time the email was sent and the names of sender and recipient. So for an email the Document Title should contain the word Email, the time of the email, and the names of sender and recipient. Even if you know that only one email was sent by that sender to that recipient on that day, you still need to include the time in the Document Title because our imaginary person looking along the long table needs to be able not only to find the email matching your description but also to be sure that what they have found is definitely the right document and they cannot be assumed to know that there was only one email that day.

You should not include in the Document Title a summary of what the document actually says. This is for two reasons
  • Imagine the person looking for the document among the documents spread out on the long table. If they have to skim read a document to see if its contents correspond to your summary, that will take them extra time.
  • Although every court and tribunal case is concerned is with some kind of dispute between the parties which will be finally decided by a judge at a trial, the court/tribunal process is designed to be civilised and efficient with as little dispute as possible in the practical preparations for the trial. At the trial itself (and in pleadings and, where appropriate, witness statements) each party may argue that a particular email should be interpreted in a particular way or that one part of an email is the most important, but before the trial the court/tribunal expects the parties to co-operate in disclosing documents and in the compiling of the Trial Bundle and avoid unnecessary contention in such practical preparatory matters. If you attempt, in a Document Title, to summarise the content of an email or other document your summary may be (even if you do not intend it to be) contentious. You may characterise an email as making a request but the other side might see it as making a demand or even a threat. Or the other side may feel that you are trying to downplay some aspect of the email by referring to some more prosaic part of it and they may feel that they should refer to it in a way which mentions what they regard as its most significant point. This happens more often than you might expect and at worst it can lead, at the Disclosure of Documents and Trial Bundle preparation stages, to you referring to an email with one name and the other side insisting on using a different name with the potential for mistakes and confusion and time wasted If, however, you give the email a Document Title containing the word Email and the names of sender and recipient and the time it was sent, that non-contentious information, together with the date, can easily be used to identify the document without there being any cause for any fruitless pre-trial wrangling over the name used to identify the document.

There are just two exceptions to the rule that the Document Title should not summarise what the document says or shows. 

  • Usually a letter would be named like this
Document Title Document Date
 
 Letter Smith to Jones

 
 30 September 2018 

and this is normally sufficient as it is not usual for for two letters to be sent by the same sender to the same recipient on the same day (because normally the sender will wait to see if they get a reply in the post in the following days before writing further. However if, unusually, two letters are set by the same person to the same recipient on the same day the Document Title for each letter will need to contain some detail to distinguish between them. If both letters have a reference number and the reference numbers of the two letters are different then the reference number can be used like this:

Document Title Document Date
 
 Letter Smith to Jones (ref AWS/145678) 

 Letter Smith to Jones (ref FWJ/675567) 

 
 30 September 2018

 30 September 2018 

but if there is no reference number (or if there is a reference number but both letters have the same reference number) then you may have no choice but to use a two or three word summary of what each letter is about, like this:

 Document Title Document Date
 
 Letter Smith to Jones (details of property)  

 Letter Smith to Jones (enclosing contract)  


 
 30 September 2018 

 30 September 2018 


If you have to do this make sure that for the
 two or three word summary you choose something non-contentious which makes it easy to identify which letter is which without any extensive reading. 



  • Most photos taken in recent years will be digital photos and these would be named like this 
 Document Title Document Date
 
 Photo at 12.15.46 Rose Cottage garden

 
 8 January 2018 


including the time the photo was taken so that it is easy to identify the copy of the photo (assuming that the copy contains the date and time from the EXIF data).

For non-digital photos, of course, the time the photo was taken will not have been recorded and the date the photo was taken will not normally appear on it so some notable unique feature shown in the photo should be stated in one or two words in brackets after the general subject like this

 Document Title Document Date
 
 Photo of Rose Cottage garden (red ball)

 
 12 June 1996

In the above example the subject of the photo is the garden of Rose Cottage and the photo just happens to show a red ball on the lawn so that is chosen as the notable unique feature. The notable unique feature does not have to have (and usually won't have) any relevance to the disputed issues in the case: it is just some feature useful for distinguishing one non-digital photo from another of the same date (or of the same date range as often the date of a non-digital photo is known only approximately).  


Document Titles 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 Document Title, but for less common document types you may not have come across before it can be less easy to decide what Document Title 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 using the document type alone is often sufficient when combined with the date

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Agreement

 
 15 August 2018 

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

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Witness Statement of John Smith

 
 14 July 2018 


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

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 AB123456 Transfer

 
 13 June 2018 

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.

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 AB123456 Transfer Smith to Jones

 AB123456 Transfer of Part Jones to Jenkins

 
 12 May 2018 

 12 May 2018 


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 Document Title:

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Purchase Order AB1207

 Invoice 100765

 
 11 April 2018  

 28 April 2018 

  

Letters and Emails

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

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Letter John Smith to Paul Jones   

 
 10 March 2018 


In the case of emails, however, a time as well as a date is essential as there may be several emails between the same parties in the course of a day. The time the email was sent is indicated like this

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Email at 22.44 John Smith to Paul Jones 

 
 9 February 2018 
 

It is becoming increasingly common for people to compose a communication in traditional letter format, save it as a PDF, and then send it attached to an email saying e.g.  "Please see attached letter". Such emails should be named in the usual way but instead of saying Email it should say Emailed Letter.

 Document Title Document Date
 
 Emailed Letter at 13.49 Smith to Jones 

 
 19 December 2018 


Text Messages

A PDF copy of text messages will typically include, in a single PDF, all the text messages exchanged between two people on a single day, and the PDF, when loaded to DCS, would be named like this:

 Document Title Document Date
 
Texts between John Smith and Paul Jones  

 
 3 November 2018 


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:



Report 

Bank Credit  

Bank Statement 

Webpage www.brownandsmith.co.uk/home

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

Digital photos should be named with the name of the general subject and the time the photo was taken like this:

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Photo at 12.15.46 No 22 garden

 
 8 January 2018 

For non-digital photos the time each photo was taken will not be recorded and a notable unique feature of each photo should be stated stated in one or two words in brackets after the subject like this

 Document Title Document Date
 
 Photo of No 22 garden (red ball)

 
 8 January 1996

In the above example the subject of the photo is the garden of house number 22 and the photo just happens to show a red ball on the lawn so that is chosen as the notable unique feature. The notable unique feature does not have to have (and usually won't have) any relevance to the disputed issues in the case: it is just some feature useful for distinguishing one non-digital photo from another of the same date.


Videos

A video file placeholder (i.e. a PDF containing a link to the video file itself) should be named like this

 Document Title Document Date
 
 Video of Brookwood garden

 
 3 November 2018 


If a snapshot is created of some key frame of the video it should be named e.g.

 Document Title Document Date
 
 Snapshot from Video (at 20 mins 5 secs)

 
 3 November 2018 


Audio Recordings

An audio recording placeholder (i.e. a PDF containing a link to the audio recording file itself) and should be named like this


 Document Title Document Date
 
 Audio recording of conversation

 
 3 November 2018 


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 document on DCS so that the arrangement of the individual documents within it is preserved. It might also be necessary to load copies of the individual documents to DCS in addition

It is good practice for an Exhibit containing non-digital 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 the whole Exhibit as a single document in DCS the Exhibit frontsheet would be one document and each photo would be a separate document named as shown below:


 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Exhibit JJS2 - Photos

 Exhibit JJS2-01 Photo of Brookwood garden - circa spring 1992 

 Exhibit JJS2-02 Photo of garden wall  

 Exhibit JJS2-03 Photo of vegetable patch 

 
  

 1 April 1992 

 22 November 2005

 20 July 2009


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 in the Document Title 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 legible, 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 the date of a paper document does not appear on its face?

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 the date of a document does not appear on its face, add the word circa and an approximate date at the end of the Document Title like this

 Document Title Document Date
 Photo of Brookwood garden - circa 1990s 1 January 1990
 Photo of Brookwood garden - circa 1992 1 January 1992
 Photo of Brookwood garden - circa spring 1994  1 April 1994
 Photo of Brookwood garden - circa August 1995
 1 August 1995

Use an absolute approximate date such as circa 1999 not a relative approximate date such as about 20 years ago.

You still need to enter a full date (year, month, and day of month) in the Document Date in DCS - so that the document appears in the (approximately) correct order after older documents and before newer documents - but the words at the end of the Document Title make clear that that full Document Date entered is for sorting purposes only rather than being intended to be the exact date of the document.


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 later, you should, nevertheless still enter as the 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 day or two 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 Document Title you should enter the date that it was posted in brackets:

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones (posted 10 Aug 2016)

 
 20 July 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 Document Title:

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Letter John Smith to Lucy Jones (misdated 5 Jan 2012)

 
 5 Jan 2013  


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 as the Document Date as this will result in the document appearing in the wrong place, chronologically. For example, do not attempt to enter 29 March 2017 to 21 April 2017 but simply name the email in the usual way with the date/time from the header - e.g. 

 Document Title  Document Date
 
 Email at 12.45 John Smith to Lucy Jones

 
 21 April 2017  


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 at teh start of the Document Title like this:

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 have a Document Title as in the following example:

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.
 
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:

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 November 2018. Disclaimer