Is it illegal to hire a private investigator?
There are many reasons why people seek out private investigators to assist them. It could be to locate someone who has skipped out on debt or has become estranged from their concerned family. Alternatively, it provides an opportunity to gather evidence to use in a future or pending court case – like video exposing a cheating spouse or a worker who might be misrepresenting the extent of any injury in respect to a workers’ compensation claim.
Private investigators are highly skilled at these sorts of activities and can deliver information to their clients through both covert and open interview techniques. They are often used in cases where traditional law enforcement agencies are not able to assist.
But are they legal? The answer to that is not as cut and dry as yes or no, as there are many levels of compliance that needs to be adhered to. But when you do enlist the services of a licensed and appropriately qualified PI, this meets the various state and federal regulatory compliance requirements and ensures that the evidence they return to you can be used in an Australian court of law.
What is a private investigator?
Like many industries, there are stereotypes in respect to private investigators and a lot of people don’t know what they actually do.
The Hollywood portrayal of a PI in a trenchcoat, shaking down people for information using violence and other measures with a cigarette hanging from the corner of their mouth is not what you can actually expect when you walk into a private investigator’s office.
Your average PI is highly trained and skilled at investigatory law services and will often work with clients that include lawyers and attorneys to legally gather evidence that will assist in court cases.
They also work with businesses and debt collection agencies to locate missing debtors, help mediate interview processes (including workplace compensation hearings), verify information, conduct background checks, assist in finding missing persons and undertake surveillance for a range of reasons.
But again, like any other industry, there are genuine private investigators and there are non-reputable, cowboy operators that may use tactics outside of the law. It is important to only enlist the services of a PI agency that is reputable and operates within Australian legislation or you could find yourself on the wrong end of a court case or worse.
What does a private investigator need to do to be legally compliant in Australia?
The first thing to look for with any private investigator or private detective is whether they are accredited. It is law in Australia that PIs be licensed and they need to operate with the confines of both state and federal laws. If they do not have this license, do not consider their services.
The other thing to consider is ethics. If you feel the PI agency you are speaking with is using tactics that are questionable or go against your ethics, do not go with them. There is no need to use non-ethical tactics in private investigations, as appropriately trained PIs have all of the skills they need to legally deliver you a result.
Private investigators are not going to bend or break the law to suit your needs either. They will not stalk someone simply because you are offering to pay them to and they will not investigate people that have any form of restraining or protection order out against you.
You will find the majority of private investigation firms are highly reputable and their investigators are excellent at locating the people, information, and evidence you require within the parameters of the law. Just ensure you do your homework on them first to ensure you are dealing with a reputable firm.
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