Statute reference: This case was brought under common law.

Keywords: evidence; covert video surveillance

The Facts

Ms J injured her hand and wrist in the course of her employment. The employers admitted liability but they did not accept that Ms J had the continuing disability which she alleged. The employers sought to rely on the evidence of two video films recorded in Ms J’s home, unknown to her, by an inquiry agent disguised as a market researcher. Expert witnesses acting for Ms J took the view that she still had a continuing disability but the content of the films could be explained because the extent of her disability varied.

Ms J applied to the court for directions as to whether the video evidence was admissible. It was accepted that the inquiry agent was a trespasser who would not have been admitted to Ms J’s home if she had not misled her as to her identity. Further, if the films were admitted in evidence, new medical experts would have to be instructed. At first instance, the court ruled that the evidence should be excluded. On appeal to a High Court judge, this decision was reversed on the basis that the public interest that defendants or their insurers should be able to prevent and uncover unjustified, dishonest and fraudulent claims outweighed the claimant’s right to privacy.

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