Employee-employer relations are always tricky, as we all know. That’s why we make it a point to put everything down in writing – whether it’s a major agreement or employment contract, disciplinary action, or even a simple meeting schedule. In the world of business, accuracy and conciseness are key. And this becomes even truer when there is a dispute involved. Various statements are made, and at the end of the day, it’s their word against yours. So in a legal dispute or conflict, how can you prove your claims?
There is one form of evidence that is increasingly being used in the UK courts, as long as it’s done right: covert recordings. Simply put, a covert recording is an audio or video record of a conversation between two or more individuals which is done in secret. It is powerful evidence indeed, as it can make or break the testimony of a particular person, especially when it involves ‘he said, she said’ scenarios.
Making use of a covert recording
But if you are involved in a conflict or dispute, you can’t just whip out your mobile phone or a digital camera and start recording and hope that this holds up in court. There is a particular procedure for this, hence the emphasis on the line ‘as long as it is done right’ mentioned above. Some covert recordings have been denied use as evidence for various reasons, but mostly because they were simply presented as evidence as is without any effort to have them professionally transcribed. This procedure is frowned upon, as anyone listening to the recording could form their own interpretation of what has been said, especially since covert recordings are quite difficult to listen to, with various noises, garbles, whispers and the like.
There is no doubt that the best way to present a covert recording in court and have it admitted is to have it officially transcribed by an outside, objective body and present a copy of this transcript to the court as evidence. Transcripts of covert recordings should additionally be presented to both parties in advance, so the other party will have a chance to listen to it as well, and perhaps have it transcribed themselves.
The process of having a covert recording transcribed also eliminates the risk of adjournments and delays, as all the parties have to do is listen to the recording and refer to the transcript they already have in hand.
It all comes down to having something concrete in writing. A covert recording has more weight when it is transcribed, simply because it reduces any misinterpretations and does not allow anyone to misconstrue what has been said.
How to make your covert recording stand up under close scrutiny
As mentioned, in order to make a covert recording acceptable, it is always better to have it transcribed professionally from the beginning. When the recording is properly transcribed, it can be submitted to the court and both parties, who will then have the opportunity to listen to it beforehand and perhaps take some action on their own. And, to be doubly sure that your covert recording is accepted as evidence, have it transcribed by transcription services that are not only professional but have the relevant experience in this type of recording as well.
Image attributed to Alphabetsecretarial.co.uk