A statement is necessary because it helps to keep a record of a client’s case.
The statement is recorded on a case sheet which is a standard question sheet and this is kept in the client’s file. You will do all of your work on the case using the information you wrote down in the first statement and it is therefore very important for you to write down accurate and complete information.
(See: Example of a simple case sheet)
(See: Example of a statement)
The statement is divided into four parts:
Write down the standard personal details of the client. The most important details are:
if some important event happened in the year he or she was born, for example, a very bad drought which was recorded; this will give you an idea of the year that the person was born.
The details you need will be different according to the different types of problems. For example, in a complaint about non-payment of wages you need to know what work the client was doing and what the wage was supposed to be, as well as the name and address of the employer. To help with a pension application, you need the age and present income of the client.
At the end of each chapter of this manual, there are usually one or two checklists. These include the questions that are important to the topics covered in that chapter. Once you know what kind of problem your client has, the checklists for that chapter can help you remember what questions you should ask your client.
Write down every detail of importance. Rather include information if you are not sure whether it is important or not. It might come in useful at a later stage.
Write down all the details of the problem in the correct date order that things happened.
You must tell your client what his or her rights are. You must then explain what steps can be taken to help him or her.
Then you must listen to your client to find out exactly what he or she wants you to do. These are the ‘instructions’ that your client gives you. For example, if your client was dismissed from a job, don’t just take it for granted that he or she wants the job back, even if you feel that the dismissal was unfair. On the other hand, if your client says he or she only wants notice pay, this may be because he or she does not know anything about unfair dismissal and reinstatement. It is up to you to explain to your client about all his or her rights, and then let him or her make her own choices.
If there is something that the client is not clear about, ask him or her to find out that information and bring it to you later.
Write down details of the advice that you gave and ‘instructions’ that your client gave you.
Discuss with your client what steps you will take to try to solve the problem. Make sure the client understands what you are going to do. Be realistic about how much you think you can do for your client and how long it will take to sort out the problem. Do not raise false hopes.You must then agree on how you are going to report back to your client. This could be by writing a letter to the client or the client coming back to you on a set date.
Write down everything that you do. For example, if you make a telephone call, write this down and what was said in the telephone call. Keep copies of all letters that you write for your client.
Keep copies of all documents in connection with your client’s claim, for example, a UIF record card in a complaint about UIF benefits, the Instalment Sales Agreement in a problem with hire purchase, and so on. Do not write on original documents. Documents should be stapled to the statement of the client so that they do not get lost.