Surveillance Devices and Secret Agents

Your name is Bond. James Bond.

That might not be your real name. You’re a secret agent. A very, very secret agent.

The family law negotiations have come to a stalemate. Your lawyer has told you that there is just not quite enough evidence to support your claims.

You’ve had enough. No more Mr Nice Guy.

You’re on your way to meet the mother of your children. You are hoping to have a private word with her and drag out some classified information to assist with your Application to the Court.

You pull up to her driveway and park the car. You reach into the pocket of your very expensive suit and feel for your digital recording device. Check.

You know better. You don’t have a warrant. You’re not carrying out your secret agent duties. She has not consented to you recording the conversation; She doesn’t even know.

It doesn’t matter. You’re a secret agent. This is going to be gold.

You knock on the door. She answers.

Click. You switch on the recording device.

You were right. That digital recording device was worth every cent you paid. She’s playing right into your hands. She’s admitting everything. Your lawyer is going to love this. Keep talking, keep right on talking…

STOP!

The use of listening and surveillance devices, and the recording of private conversations and activities is governed in Western Australia by the Surveillance Devices Act 1998.

Aside from your illegally obtained “evidence” being almost certainly inadmissible in the Family Court, the Surveillance Devices Act 1998 makes it an offence punishable by $5,000 or 12 months imprisonment for an individual or $50,000 for a body corporate.

There are some limited excuses including if you have a warrant, are carrying out your duties as an officer of the law, the recording was unintentional, if both parties consent to the conversation being recorded, it is in the public interest or will contribute towards the protection of the best interests of a child who is a principal party to the private conversation. However, in most private situations, these excuses will not apply and legal advice should be sought before recording any conversations.

Go on then, secret agent. Turn it off. Leave that recording device at home. You can do it.