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Keeping records

Although record keeping is time consuming, it can be useful in monitoring, learning and solving things that are not clear.

What challenges does it focus on?

Recording basic information of the parties, problem and process. Progress can be monitored. It helps to learn from experience.

Short summary

Record keeping is not a goal in itself. It can be time consuming. Not everything needs to be recorded. Record information that helps monitoring, learning and solving things that are not clear. The following practices are reported as being useful: What are the basic records?

  • Use the dispute map as the record for the important elements of the dispute. These elements can be registered on paper as well.
  • Documents submitted by the parties, intake forms and other forms should be kept.
  • Short notes after each meeting can record: time spent, key things learned and agreements about next meetings or steps in the process. Entries in the case file should be made as soon as possible after the event.
  • When an agreement is reached provide each party with a copy of the agreement. If necessary submit the written agreement to authority figures, witnesses and relatives.
  • When the facilitator in a particular dispute changes record the date and the name of the new facilitator.
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How can these records be kept?

  • Maintain standardised structure and layout of case files (see the templates below)
  • Keep the case files in the office/house of the facilitator (should be a place that is safe to the parties).
  • Respect the privacy of the parties and other people involved in the dispute.
  • The documents within the case file should be reviewable in chronological order (things that came first should be shown first). This way, case file reflects the continuum of service provided and the process can be reconstructed on paper.
  • Every document in the case file should be dated and signed by the person responsible for the activity.
  • Organise all case files in such a way that it is easy to retrieve information at a later stage (i.e. by alphabetical order, filing date or type of problem).
  • Organise the outcomes thematically so analysis of objective criteria and sharing rules is easy.
  • Where available keep electronic record keeping system.
  • The following forms provide the back-bone of records that can be kept in relation to a conflict:

Example Invitation Letter
Example Intake Form
Dispute Clarification Form
Example Agreement
A freeware website to download case management systems is:

Research evidence

Evidence from practice

Sharing the Agreement: Making sure that both parties, the facilitator, and the head office have a copy of all agreements means that it is easier to continue a dispute resolution if there is a problem after an agreement is reached

Use Information Technology: Where available, using electronic copies of documents means that storage and retrieval of information can be useful. It may also be possible to use these electronic systems to facilitate faster development of invitation letters, agreements etc.

Evidence from literature

12 record keeping standards for medical records. These have been adapted to dispute resolution setting, resulting in 10 standards:

  • The client’s complete record should be available at all times during mediation
  • Every page in the record should include the client’s name and/or identification number
  • The contents of the record should have a standardised structure and layout.
  • Documentation within the record should reflect the continuum of service provided and should be reviewable in chronological order.
  • Data recorded or communicated on admission, handover and exit should be recorded using a standardised proforma.
  • Every entry in the record should be dated, timed (24-hour clock), legible and signed by the person making the entry. Deletions and alterations should be countersigned.
  • Entries to the record should be made as soon as possible after the event to be documented.
  • On each occasion the facilitator changes, the name of the new facilitator and the date and time of the transfer should be recorded.
  • An entry should be made in the record whenever a client sees a facilitator.
  • The discharge record should be commenced at the time a client presents for help

CARPENTER, I., RAM, M., B., CROFT, G. P. & WILLIAMS, J. G. 2007. Medical records and record-keeping standards. Clinical Medicine, Journal of the Royal College of Physicians, 7, 328-331

Maintaining electronic records increases efficiency and reduces costs to organisations, as well as making risk management, and compliance with legal requirements faster and easier.

SPREHE, J. T. 2005. The positive benefits of electronic records management in the context of enterprise content management. Government Information Quarterly, 22, 297-303.

Best practices