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Why can I not use my tape recordings as evidence at court?(15 Posts)
I have extensive tape recordings as evidence against my former partner.
However it would seem that I am not allowed to submit these as evidence, as of course the other side protested against that.
How come I cannot use these?
I have just read in a case law on custody minefield.com that "the judge listened to the tape recordings that the husband had made from the wife" to prove that she was unreasonable.
Unfortunately tape recordings aren't as important as you think and trying to introduce recordings into court proceedings can backfire. Usually recordings aren't admissible in court unless they were recorded by the police. Recordings can be edited, taken out of context, a premeditated set up or children can be coached and it may be a criminal offence to record someone without their knowledge. There are some exceptions, when there is evidence of serious wrongdoing. Otherwise recording may create the wrong impression - what kind of person goes to the lengths of recording a former spouse/partner to use in private family proceedings etc
In answer to your last question, STIDW, someone who's being abused would fit the bill.
I think that's a great pity as I would say a normal person records and that recordings can show so much of what people are like and ensure the wool is not pulled over the eyes of the court.
What is the evidence about - whether he was violent in a criminal case against him for violence? Or whether he is safe to have the children with him? If it's just a dispute over who pays what then just because someone is nasty or violent will not matter. If he said "I hide my money in Antigua you will never find it" that is another issue again.
The person who is being recorded has to know they're being recorded in advance in order for it to be admissible I think.
If you think about how the police interview, the cassettes are sealed and there are two copies.
Exactly, it is to prove verbal abuse and that he has been shouting at me for long periods up to forty minutes on one occasion without interruption.
I recorded him on my mobile phone that I always kept on me.
Also, I recorded him shouting at the children. Would that also not be admissible?
None of it is admissible. But you could make an application to try and get it admitted as evidence. You have to swear a document as to how you got it etc I think. It won't hold much weight though, unless the defendant admits anything as a result of it.
This is the advice I was given so far, too. Therefore I was surprised to see on a caselaw example that the judge, for establishing an occupation order, listened to a tape that the father had recorded of the mother, in order to prove that she was unreasonable.
Make transcripts. Offer those as evidence. If challenged, produce recordings.
I thought that if it were a criminal case (and no police warrant to tap) then they could not use the evidence as breach of RIPA 2000 and that if it were a civil case and there was no tapping of the line (just recording through a recording device rather than a tap then the court in civil cases had discretion to allow it. They would in breach of contract cases. They often do.
I am not sure about family law but you would have thought it were a civil case and the court would have jurisdiction to allow. I agree about the transcripts point.
The balance for civil rather than criminal courts is to get to the truth. If a recording even if done illegally on a tap helps that then it may be allowed. If the recording is in a house you both live in and is not even a phone tap then it may not even be illegal by the way.
There are a number of issues here.
You say `However it would seem that I am not allowed to submit these as evidence, as of course the other side protested against that'.
It is worth remembering the other side does not have the power to decide what can and can't be used as evidence. Of course, that is not to say they will try to convince you otherwise or make representations to the court to prevent you doing so (this is a daily experience in my working life).
It is also worth considering that the court has a wide ambit of discretion and you need to convince the court...no one else.
If you feel that your evidence is significant above I would advise you transcribe the whole recordings and take them with you to court, the relevant parts highlighted. Take a copy of the recordings too.
You may be in a position to use the transcriptions as a bargaining tool with the other party. Should you mention them expect to be told you are not permitted to submit them to the court, etc. for the reasons mention by other posters. You may also be told that their client refutes the transcriptions and claim they are false. If this happens it may be time to mention you have recordings you are happy to provide the court if this is an issue.
In the final analysis it is worth remembering that most of the work in court is negotiation. I have known recordings/transcriptions to be used in the way I describe to achieve positive results. It's also common for an unrepresented party to be misled about what they can and can't do. I'm often amazed (that's a lie...I'm not) how often the people I am assisting are told by a legal professional that nothing can be done only for increasingly attractive offers being made before we even see a judge or magistrates.
Hope this helps. Get in touch if you need a chat.
Thank you all. They 'the other side' have mentioned tapping of the line, but I have recorded on a dictaphone as well as on my mobile phone that I held in my hand while were were having these conversations, or rather I got yelled at. So no tapping involved.
We have transcripts of everything.
I may get in touch, thank you lostdad if that's ok, when I am a bit further down the line.
So glad I found this thread. I have been doing exactly the same, recording in our marital home arguements we have had. I have my other half saying that he is hiding money from me and things of that nature. Do you know how seriously the court would take that? I left it recording while I was out and he thought he was alone with his dad so was talking quite frankly and about his future plans for when the divorce goes through. TIA
HugATree1 `I have my other half saying that he is hiding money from me and things of that nature. Do you know how seriously the court would take that? '
It may be worth concentrating on ensuring you get full disclosure on financial matters rather than relying on this: Even if you convinced the judge he had said that the next step would involve figures.
A fair and equitable decision cannot be made by the court without full disclosure. When it comes to financial matters (be it a Schedule 1 Application under the Children Act or Ancillary Matters under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973) it is common for people to downplay/hide their assets.
Which means you need to go through finances very carefully to make sure you're not missing anything. If you use a Family Law solicitor it is worth making sure they are clued up with Property and Finance law. Many of my clients come to me with problems that have been caused by orders that have been made by the Family Court that have absolutely no legal weight in Property or Finance (my partner specialises in this area - being a Family Law McKenzie Friend but also a paralegal and a professional debt collector).
lostdad Tell me about the Children Act. My Ex's assets including his business have a value of over £1.5 m. He believes I will not be awarded any lump sums.
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