Solicitors NE pi

Private Investigators & the legal process

There has been a general stigma surrounding private investigators of late, and this is primarily because of image that the recent high-profile cases involving them seem to portray.

If you follow these cases, a private investigator merely looks like a shady person who hacks into the target’s devices and gathers information. They look as if they are merely tools for journalists to gather information for their stories, but the truth cannot be far from this.

The fact is that private investigation is a completely legal line of work, and opting for such services doesn’t put you on the wrong side of the law. Only a small minority of public investigators use less than legal means, and unfortunately, they are also the most vocal, which is the reason for all this bad publicity.

Now coming to the matter at hand, there are a few things you should look at when you are hiring a Private Investigator.

Don’t hire the first investigator you find in the Yellow Pages. Do some research and only hire reputable companies. You would be surprised at the amount of shady websites set up, looking to take your money under the guise of offering private investigation services. So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

One way of reducing down is by choosing only firms that are part of a recognised organisation. Sure, it isn’t necessary for a private investigation firm to join these bodies, but choosing from these organisations is like having a stamp of approval. This is because bodies like World Association of Private Investigators or The Association of British Investigators have a strict code of conduct, and they let new members in only after they meet their high requirements. 

You now have a considerably smaller list, and to whittle down further, give them a call and ask them to find the Insurance Number and bank account details of your partner. Those who agree to do it should be removed from your list, and those who don’t are the ones that follow a strict code of conduct. You don’t want to get into any trouble with the law, and that’s why you should choose the latter..

Now’s the time to know which detectives specialise in the type of investigation you want to conduct. Simply go through their website, and find whether they can do what you want. Investigation as part of divorce proceedings? An investigation involving employees of a company? Do they showcase their portfolio of recent cases? If so, that’s a good way to know whether they specialize in the kind of investigation you want to conduct. You should also check their success-rate.

It’s time to get the final list, and for that, you can search their names with the word ‘review’ next t o them to find out the experiences of others. Is their success rate high? Are they involved in any legal disputes? Do clients say that they have had a bad experience with them? You should choose firms that have a good reputation online. 

Now, if you ask them whether what they are doing is legal, everyone will assure you of the same. But the good ones will assure you that they have gone through everything well within the confines of the law, and that the method of obtaining the evidence won’t compromise the case at all.

When choosing a private detective, better safe than sorry. This is because even if a single evidence is obtained through illegal means, not only does it compromise the case, it leaves you open for more court disputes.


Are you eligible for UK Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a payment that an employer is required to make if you, as their employee, are away from work due to illness. It is an underlying regulation that is often superseded by employers’ own sick pay schemes and is enforced by law.

The first thing to do if you are sick is to check your employment contract. Many employers require that sick employees telephone by a certain time to announce their illness and all have a period of self-certification (usually seven days), during which a medical certificate is not required. It is very important to avoid breaching contract.

After the period of self-certification (again dependant on your contract), you will need to see your doctor and obtain a medical certificate. This will either give a certain period of time for recovery or a specific date to return to work. Throughout the period of illness, every day must be covered by a certificate – this is essential. Your employer will want the original for their files, so it’s worth taking a copy.

To be eligible for SSP, three conditions must be met: period of employment, amount of pay and period of sickness. These rules apply for permanent or agency employees (although the latter had different rules before the end of October 2008).

Firstly, you must have been employed by the same company for the eight weeks prior to your claim for sick pay. If the period of employment is shorter than this, it is up to the employer to decide if they wish to pay or not.

Secondly, you must have been earning enough money to make National Insurance contributions. In real terms, this works out to about 90 per week (gross). If your earnings are below this level, the employer is not obliged to pay.

Thirdly, you must have been sick for at least four days (weekends and bank holidays included) before you can claim SSP – that is, one day after the standard period of self-certification.

If all three conditions are met, your employer must pay you at least the basic amount of SSP. At present, this is £75.40 per week (assuming you work full-time). Of course, if the company has their own sickness scheme, you may receive more. You should also bear in mind that you can’t claim SSP at the same time as Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.

Two closing comments are also worthwhile. If you are not eligible or do not receive the full SSP amount (or even if you do, but have a partner who isn’t working), you can usually get government benefits, so contact your local JobCentre Plus; and if you are sick for more than three months, after which it is unlikely your employer will continue payments (and you may even lose your job, dependant on circumstances), you will be eligible for benefits at a higher rate – the period of sickness is considered to have started at the beginning of SSP payments.

Full details of SSP (including what you should do if you should be receiving it and aren’t) can be found on the DirectGov site.

Contact Hadaway & Hadaway for advice and help regarding employment law: