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Sep, 2014

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  1. #1

    Smile Conversation recorded surreptitiously- is it Evidence?

    Hi,

    Can a recorded conversation with a Environmental Health Officer/Buidling Surveyor/Inspector regarding the condition of a letting property be used as evidence in court even though the officer/inspector does not know that the conversation is recorded during the inspection.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Not sure on that one tbh, i think they may class it as "inadmissable evidence"
    I had a voicemail on my phone from the LL who's got my house, it was quite a shall we say "nasty" message, but my housing officer heard it, and she said i may not be able to use it, but she wrote down word for word what was said when she listened to it.
    Better checking it out to be on the safe side.

  3. #3

    Angry

    Quote Originally Posted by jinny View Post
    Not sure on that one tbh, i think they may class it as "inadmissable evidence"
    I had a voicemail on my phone from the LL who's got my house, it was quite a shall we say "nasty" message, but my housing officer heard it, and she said i may not be able to use it, but she wrote down word for word what was said when she listened to it.
    Better checking it out to be on the safe side.
    I've had experiences whereby both EHO and Housing Surveyor came, surveyed the house, and mentioned one story to myself (verbally) and after speaking to the LL, the story has changed in the report. Hence, I wonder if I could use a recorded conversation as evidence instead, since I'm not sure what the LL tells the officer later, which can make them change their mind.

    Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks.

  4. #4
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    If such a recording is inadmissable, would it be an option to prepare a transcript of the tape and simply present it to the surveyor who you recorded (ie completely outside the court process) and let them know you intend to tell the court that the surveyor told you XYZ... that gives the surveyor fair warning that he may be in difficulties if he perjurs himself in court by denying it.

    I don't if that's kosher or would work - just throwing out the suggestion. Surveyor might be fully aware (for example) that such a recording would be inadmissable and not be concerned about it; but it ought to make him stop and think?

  5. #5
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    Default Recorded Evidence

    Generally, as I understand it, recorded evidence is not admissible in court unless the recording was done with the full knowledge and approval of the parties involved.
    Therefore, ideally, the beginning of the recording should state the circumstances, names of paties involved, location, date and time of the recording and that all parties present are willing participants. Perhaps also a written statement to that effect signed by the parties involved would really clinch it?
    Additionally, a transcript as suggested above, as an item of referenced evidence in the witness statement passed beforehand to all parties before the hearing is likely to help and may gain approval.
    However, I've been present at a tribunal where the chairman allowed the playing of an un-approved recording in support, though ironically the recording appeared to support the case for the other party.

  6. #6
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    I have used tape recorded telephone conversations in county court during civil proceedings quite successfully having transcripted the recording onto paper. I referred to the trsncript in my evidence and the circuit judge asked me what I had transcribed it from and I held the tape up. At the conclusion, the other party (defendant) was asked if he accepted my transcript as accurate - otherwise the tape would be played and compared with the transcript - the defendant accepted it was.

    Covert recordings can be used - I recommend that a tape recorder is used as opposed to a digital recorder which can be manipulated using a computer and altered etc. It is a common misbelief that the other party has to be aware that a telephone conversation is being recorded to make it legally admissible - not so, the law states that one party must be aware - and that can be the party doing the recording.

    It is normally an offence to "tap" a telephone where both parties are unaware of recording being taken, but the Home Secretary can authorise this in the interests of national security or for police purposes.

  7. #7

    Angry

    Quote Originally Posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
    It is a common misbelief that the other party has to be aware that a telephone conversation is being recorded to make it legally admissible - not so, the law states that one party must be aware - and that can be the party doing the recording.
    Thanks for the advice. In my situation, it is a recorded conversation between myself and the officer/inspector (two separate occasions) when the house inspection is being conducted. The inspection party is not aware that the conversation is being recorded. Therefore, can this situation be interpreted as similar to the one you quoted?

    If I can't use this as evidence, this really worries me as I am not sure why the LL has the ability to influence surveyors in their reports after the inspection. Note: The report produced a few days later and recorded conversation during the inspection is different!!

    Thanks!

  8. #8
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    It is down to the Judge on the day as to whether evidence, in whatever form is admissible or not. You should disclose the existence of the tape and have it transcribed and exchanged when exchange of evidence takes place (called disclosure) with the other party.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulG View Post
    In my situation, it is a recorded conversation between myself and the officer/inspector (two separate occasions) when the house inspection is being conducted. The inspection party is not aware that the conversation is being recorded. Therefore, can this situation be interpreted as similar to the one you quoted?
    IANAL but it sounds analagous to the phone conversation to me (ie, one party unaware of the recording). Why not face up to the surveyor as I suggested and see what he comes up with?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
    Covert recordings can be used

    It is a common misbelief that the other party has to be aware that a telephone conversation is being recorded to make it legally admissible - not so, the law states that one party must be aware - and that can be the party doing the recording.

    It is normally an offence to "tap" a telephone where both parties are unaware of recording being taken, but the Home Secretary can authorise this in the interests of national security or for police purposes.
    Yes, it's my understanding that as long as one of the parties being recorded knows that they're being recorded it is legal. It's when the parties being recorded are completely unaware that it becomes illegal (that stuff is left to the government).

    I cannot point to the applicable legislation. If you're that interested do your own research.

    To those who think being recorded unknowingly is illegal, do you think you've broken the law by including passers-by in your holiday snaps?

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