Fact management

In a county court trial, fact management is a critical skill for junior barristers. But it is in reality a critical skill for all lawyers, who do not wish to have their clocks cleaned by their opponents, who have been more diligent in reading into a case and understand the true import of the evidence. 

Analysing facts and evidence meticulously is essential when writing an advice, drafting pleadings, or preparing a case for trial. In this blog, I will explain how barristers analyse facts and evidence and the key tools they use, such as chronologies, tables of issues, and tables of evidence.

I will also explore how modern software like Microsoft Office applications and LiquidText can enhance fact management efficiency and indeed is essential as an aid to efficiciency. .

Any barrister’s preparation should involve a detailed analysis of the facts and evidence to ensure a thorough understanding of the case. Of course the time for this may be limited if in the finest tradition of the service, the papers arrive at 5pm the day before a trial. But that simply means that if the job is going to be done properly, an evening’s work is in prospect. 

Key tools in this process include:

Chronologies: I swear by chronologies. They are a key both to understanding a case and presenting it. Chronologies provide a structured timeline of events. They can be detailed by events over weeks or months, or even minute by minute, depending on the case’s complexity and what the particular issues are in the case. A well-structured chronology helps track the sequence of events and understand their context and impact.

A chronology is typically structured as a table with columns for the date, time, event description, and references to evidence. Events can be recorded in varying levels of detail, depending on the case requirements. For instance, in a complex clinical negligence dispute, minute-by-minute entries might be necessary, while a credit hire case might require only key dates and events, usually relating to the pattern of expenditure of a claimant, or the fate of their damaged vehicle: when was it inspected, when were repairs approved, when did parts arrive, when did it go into the workshop and when did it come out etc..

Tables of Issues: These tables identify each issue in the case and the parties’ respective positions. By laying out the issues clearly, a barrister can see the areas of agreement and contention, facilitating focused legal arguments and strategic planning, and which can form the basis for a properly focused skeleton argument, instead of the generic and increasingly amorphous beasts which I sometimes receive. At it’s heart is the identification of issues so that it can be seen what is the specific point of contention between the parties?

  • Claimant’s Position: What is the claimant’s stance on this issue?
  • Defendant’s Position: What is the defendant’s stance on this issue?

Tables of Evidence: These tables deconstruct expert  engineering reports and witness statements, comparing different accounts and highlighting inconsistencies. They are essential for identifying contradictions within a witness’s evidence or between witnesses. This process aids in preparing for cross-examinations and ensuring a robust case presentation.

Here is an example of how a  table for expert engineering evidence analysis might be structured. Even the simple act of listing out the issues, will help with the deconstruction of the engineering evidence, and aid understanding of its significance:

The Issue

Paragraph Numbers in

Claimant’s Report

Paragraph Numbers in

Defendant’s Report

Relevant Facts  Literature  
Location of damage          
Cost of repairs          


In the early 1990s I used to make tables using an A4 pad, a ruler a black pen and a red pen. I quickly gravitated to making tables in Microsoft Office applications, like Word and Excel, which are invaluable for creating chronologies and tables. Drafting documents in Word allows for comprehensive, well-formatted text entries. Its formatting features make it ideal for creating detailed chronologies and complex tables

Excel’s ability to handle large amounts of data and perform quick searches is great for managing extensive evidence tables. Its filtering and sorting features can give easy navigation through vast amounts of information.

But I have now moved onto what I describe as “second generation” software for fact management. This will potentially soon be superseded by “third generation” software, powered by AI which is even quicker and better. But for now, I use LiquidText.

LiquidText is a powerful tool designed for handling large volumes of information efficiently. It combines note-taking and document analysis, making it ideal for barristers.  LiquidText is software that allows users to interact with documents dynamically, extracting, connecting, and organizing information. It can be used on large-screen desktops, iPads, or laptops, offering flexibility. The key steps are relatively simple and intuitive.

Artificial intelligence (thank you ChatGPT) has helpfully summarised the key features of LiquidText for me: having been using the software for a while, I think it has written a fair summary of how it works. 

Key Features of LiquidText

  1. Document Import: Easily import multiple formats.

    • LiquidText allows users to import documents in various formats, including PDFs, Word files, and PowerPoint presentations. This feature enables a barrister to compile all relevant case materials in one place, ensuring nothing is overlooked.
    • By consolidating documents, LiquidText helps streamline the review process, making it easier to cross-reference and analyze information. This capability is especially useful when dealing with extensive evidence and legal documents.
  2. Highlighting and Annotation: Mark important sections.

    • Highlighting and annotating within LiquidText allows barristers to mark significant parts of the documents. This feature is essential for pinpointing critical pieces of evidence or notable arguments.
    • Annotations enable the barrister to add personal notes and comments directly on the document, facilitating better organization and recall during case preparation.
  3. Drag-and-Drop Interface: Organize information intuitively.

    • LiquidText’s drag-and-drop functionality lets users easily move text, images, and annotations within the workspace. This feature allows for a more interactive and flexible approach to organizing information.
    • Barristers can visually connect related pieces of evidence and create a coherent narrative, enhancing their understanding and presentation of the case.
  4. Linking: Connect related notes and excerpts.

    • Linking notes and excerpts within LiquidText helps establish relationships between different pieces of information. This feature is crucial for developing a comprehensive view of the case and understanding how various elements interact.
    • By creating links, barristers can quickly navigate between connected points, improving efficiency and ensuring no detail is missed during case analysis.
  5. Search Function: Quickly locate specific text.

    • The search function in LiquidText allows users to find specific words or phrases across all imported documents. This feature is invaluable for quickly locating relevant information without manually sifting through extensive texts.
    • Efficient searching helps barristers save time and focus on critical aspects of the case, enhancing overall productivity.
  6. Side-by-Side Comparison: View documents concurrently.

    • LiquidText supports side-by-side comparison of documents, enabling barristers to view multiple texts simultaneously. This feature is particularly useful for comparing witness statements or expert reports.
    • Concurrent viewing helps identify discrepancies and consistencies more effectively, which is essential for preparing cross-examinations and building a robust case.
  7. Interactive Timelines: Create detailed chronologies.

    • Interactive timelines in LiquidText allow barristers to visualize the sequence of events dynamically. Users can add, remove, or modify events with ease, providing a clear overview of the case history.
    • Timelines help identify gaps or inconsistencies in the narrative, aiding in the construction of a compelling case theory and strategy.
  8. Export Options: Export notes and summaries.

    • LiquidText offers various export options, allowing users to save their notes and summaries in different formats. This feature ensures that barristers can share their work with colleagues or integrate it into other legal documents.
    • Exporting notes facilitates collaboration and helps maintain a consistent record of case preparation, enhancing teamwork and efficiency.
  9. Cross-Device Syncing: Access work across devices.

    • LiquidText’s cross-device syncing ensures that barristers might be able to access their work from any device, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, or tablet. This feature provides flexibility and convenience, enabling work continuity across different settings.
    • However I do not use it: the reason is simple, it would send my unencrypted client data to the USA, and I do not want that. So I keep all data locally on my device, and forgo the synchronisation feature: but the maker is already working on encrypting the data, so only I can read it, in which case this feature may become viable.
  10. Collaboration: Share work with colleagues securely.

    • LiquidText enables secure sharing of documents and notes with colleagues. This feature is crucial for collaborative case preparation, allowing team members to contribute insights and updates in real-time.
    • Secure sharing ensures that sensitive information remains protected while facilitating effective teamwork, ultimately improving the quality of legal representation.

And this fact management, is all necessary, to get the facts in order, before we get to the law !

And there is quite a bit of law in credit hire claims….

But effective fact management is crucial for success. Developing skills in creating and analyzing chronologies, tables of issues, and tables of evidence ensures thorough case preparation.

Tools like  LiquidText enable me to manage facts efficiently, identify inconsistencies, and prepare for cross-examination. It makes fact management tasks quicker and more effective. 

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