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Posted on 6th November 2017

Covert recording in child proceedings

In a recent Court of Appeal judgment, Sir James Munby, president of the family division of the High Court, discussed the growing issue of covert recordings in child contact proceedings. He noted that in recent years this has included placing recording devices on the children themselves, as well as recording other parties and professionals involved in a case. The judge put this rise down to the increasing availability of equipment and a distrust of the system and its professionals.

As clients wish to establish the truth of the matter, there is arguably merit that covert recordings can achieve just that. However, the judge highlighted several problems arising from such recordings, including the extent of their lawfulness, whether they are admissible in evidence and their authenticity in the first place. Furthermore in previous cases, notably in M v F (covert recording of children) [2016], the court has shown that adverse findings can be drawn against those who seek to make covert recordings. Clients therefore need to be wary of the pitfalls of recordings made in secret and should consider whether doing so may in fact be damaging to their case, and ultimately the child concerned.

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Mei-Ling McNab

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