Review of records

Records, records, records!

Your records will often determine the strength of your claim. Hence the standard of your record keeping may often play an important role in how you will approach a claim.

Good records will allow you to deal quickly and confidently with a claim and therefore may avoid any dispute arising, hence its inclusion under dispute avoidance.

It can not be emphasised enough, you can never have too many records. However a balance has to be struck between keeping sufficient records should a claim arise and trying to record absolutely everything. It is commercially unviable to attempt to record everything, but conversely, having insufficient records can be commercially disastrous.

It is often the case in formal disputes that it is what you can prove happened that determines the outcome.

The only way to prove retrospectively what happened is to have sufficient records.

This is one area of contract administration that is often severely neglected, especially on partnering or similar contracts.

Records are not just diaries, correspondence and monthly progress reports. Programmes, timesheets, plant returns, labour allocation sheets, drawings. In fact anything that is recorded by any means is a record.

The potential ramifications of not having sufficient records include:

  • Being unable to contest the other parties records and point of view as to what happened.
  • Subjective rather than objective retrospective analysis of the facts allowing a wider interpretation of events and their effects.
  • Disproportionate costs associated with the retrospective analysis of events. For example, the cost of producing an as-built programme retrospectively is substantially greater than the cost of producing the same as the project progresses.
  • Ultimately not being able to prove your case resulting in your claim or defence being defeated.

Unfortunately, parties seldom fully appreciate the importance of record keeping until they have been involved in a formal dispute.

Do not wait to find out if your records are good enough until it is too late to do anything about it.