Following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001, JDM entered into a contract with DEFRA to construct burial sites and infrastructure works. Under the contract, JDM was to be paid a reasonable rate for such labour and materials as it provided. JDM produced timesheets to back up its claim for fees. DEFRA said they were unreliable. The problem with the timesheets was that although the documentation was verified by JDM (or its subcontractors), they had not been counter-signed, as required by the contract, at the time by a DEFRA representative.

The procedure which JDM had agreed to, involved a DEFRA representative being based on each site who would record the times and activities carried out by each individual or an item of plant. The sheet would then be signed each day by that representative and a nominated JDM employee. In practice, many sites had no DEFRA representative. Even where there was such a representative, often the timesheets were not verified or authenticated.

HHJ Thornton QC set out a number of considerations in relation to placing weight on the timesheets. These included that JDM was an experienced service provider for the government and had no reason to inflate/overcharge. The timesheets were prepared under the contract and pursuant to a contractual requirement of accuracy and reliability. Records were also being made to enable JDM to fulfil its obligations under the working time regulations. JDM had no reason to think that the timesheets would not be verified or authenticated.

The timesheets and invoices were contemporaneous. The production of the timesheets was the only reasonable means for JDM to prove its entitlement.