Q&As

Is there any case law that addresses when hiring a private investigator, or the actions of a private investigator, crosses the boundary into unlawful behaviour such as stalking, harassment or breach of privacy?

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Produced in partnership with Tori Adams of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 16/03/2020

The following Family Q&A Produced in partnership with Tori Adams of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Is there any case law that addresses when hiring a private investigator, or the actions of a private investigator, crosses the boundary into unlawful behaviour such as stalking, harassment or breach of privacy?

Private investigators are subject to the same requirements as to unlawful behaviour (criminal or civil) as any other individual or organisation. In Dubai Aluminium Co Ltd v Al Alawi, Rix J (as he then was) noted that:

‘It seems to me that if investigative agents employed by solicitors for the purpose of litigation were permitted to breach the provisions of such statutes or to indulge in fraud or impersonation without any consequence at all for the conduct of the litigation, then the courts would be going far to sanction such conduct.’

In addition, the Private Security Industry Act 2001 (PSIA 2001) defines private investigations in relation to activities that are liable to control under that Act at PSIA 2001, Sch 2 Pt 1, para 4 as any surveillance, inquiries or investigations that are carried out for the purpose of:

  1. obtaining information about a particular person or about the activities or whereabouts of a particular person, or

  2. obtaining information about the circumstances in which or means by which property has been lost or damaged

Potential standards to be applied to private investigators were considered in a Home Office review in 2018 here.

Requirements as to the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation also apply

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