22 March 2013: Nowadays, everyone seems to be able to secretly record meetings at work on their mobile phone without anyone else knowing.
In Vaughan v London Borough of Lewisham in the EAT in March 2012, Ms Vaughan wanted to submit in evidence a whopping 39 hours’ worth of covert recordings that she made between her and her managers. She argued that the recordings would show that official notes made at the time were inaccurate or wrong.
No doubt blanching at the prospect of listening to hours and hours of dreary recordings, the Employment Judge refused to allow the covert recordings in evidence.
The EAT confirmed that whilst the practice of covert recordings is “very distasteful”, such recordings are not inadmissible simply because they are recorded on the quiet. However the Judge was right to refuse the application in this case because the relevance of the tapes was questionable. If the Claimant had lodged a more focused application though, she might have been allowed to introduce the evidence.
It’s often impossible to keep a verbatim note of what is said in meetings, but recordings should not be made without the parties consent. However this case is a salutary reminder that walls, or at least pockets, may have ears.