Review of records

Records, records, records!

It can never be emphasised enough, you can never have too many records. A balance has to be struck however between keeping sufficient records should a dispute 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 disputes that it is not always what actually happened that will determine the outcome, but what you can prove happened. 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 realise the importance of record keeping until they have been involved in a dispute. Until then most parties see record keeping as a burden and something to be given as little time as possible. Then when a dispute arises it is too late to rectify the matter. The resolution of the dispute becomes uncertain and costs begin to rise disproportionately. Only then does a party realise the value of records.

Because of the nature of our work we appreciate the level of records that are required in a dispute. We can review your company record systems and advise on the appropriateness or otherwise of your procedures, either on a company wide or site by site basis. Do not wait to find out if your records are good enough until after it is too late to do anything about it.