Can I record a phone conversation?

  WhiteTruckMan 13:10 12 Nov 2012

I'm having trouble with a neighboring council (Burnley Borough Council) using baliffs to pursue a council tax debt of somebody with a similar name to me. The other person has an address in burnley, but the council has somehow found my address, stuck the other persons name on it, then passed it on to debt recovery agents i.e. baliffs to pursue. I've contacted the baliffs by phone, and in a recorded conversation which they agreed to, have notified them that this person does not and never has lived here, and that any further letters will be returned with a bill for £25 handling. They informend me that my address was provided by BBC.

Now here's where it gets interesting. I've contacted BBC debt recovery department by phone, and the first thing that you hear is a recorded message that calls my be recorded for monitoring and training purposes. However when I get through to an operator and I inform them that I am recording the call as well, they refuse to discuss anything. So do I have to disclose the fact that I am recording a call, as anything said may be a basis for a formal complaint?


  Woolwell 13:27 12 Nov 2012

Oftel - all you need here.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 13:33 12 Nov 2012

see here

you do not have to declare unless making recording available to a third party

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 13:35 12 Nov 2012

same link - Must refresh before posting :0)

  WhiteTruckMan 13:47 12 Nov 2012

Thanks for the link guys.

It does seem my position is very limited in terms of recording a call, as I can do so for my use only and cannot disclose it to anyone else without permission of the other party. But I dont know if that means the other parties organisation, or the specific individual within that organisation(but I wonder if that includes a transcript?) but the council can do what they wish within such a large organisation.


  Chronos the 2nd 13:51 12 Nov 2012

I posed a similar question here a couple or so years ago whilst also researching elsewhere. I was at the time having problems with the DWP and my local health board they too got a bit stroppy when I informed them I was recording. In the case of the DWP they threatened me with arrest,even their data protection officer seemed oblivious to the legal position but the DWP like to think they are a law unto themselves.

To cut a long story short yes you can record and you do not have to tell the other party.But it does get tricky if, as Fruit Bat says,you want a third party to listen.

A bit of reading here.

  spuds 14:02 12 Nov 2012

This becomes a technical problem, when the recorded conversation is for 'a third party' use.

I have had people and company's who have agreed, and this as been on the recording. At the same time other's have flatly refused and have terminated the conversation, even though I may have pointed out, that I was recording the conversation on the same terms that they were doing so?.

I have many 'battles' with my local council over various issues, and the officer's there can be very tricky when trying to get them to admit or agree to something in writing. I suggest that you take the matter up with the CEO of the council or head of the council's legal department through the council's complaints procedure. The other course of action would be a check on the electoral roll and/or credit agency check,and see if that information is correct or been added to, because this is where errors sometimes occur, and you are then lumbered with a problem. Another point of contact for advice would be your local councillor, if a council officer refuses to discuss and correct the matter?.

  WhiteTruckMan 14:12 12 Nov 2012

Since my last post I've had a quick chat with citizens advice. They've told me not to bother with phone calls, an instead submit a formal complaint in writing (by email) outlining my position. They have also advised me to say that I want compensation for the harassment from the baliffs, and suggested the sum of £100.

I dont have a local councillor to take this to, as I dont live within the offending councils area.

But this lot show every sign of being as bloody minded as spuds dealings.


  Forum Editor 14:39 12 Nov 2012

The rules about recording calls are quite clear. If you intend to use the recording as evidence of the call, or think that you might intend such a use in the future you must notify the other party that you are intending to record and you must obtain their consent before the conversation begins.

If you do not do this you will not be able to use the content of the recording as evidence in any subsequent legal process.

People believe all kinds of different versions of what may or may not be done with recorded conversations, but the version I've given above is the correct one. You can disclose the content of a recording to anyone you like, but you can't use it in a court action of any kind unless the other party consented to the recording before it started.

You can only claim 'harassment' by bailiffs if indeed harassment has occurred. There is no definitive legal description of the term, but one that can usually be relied on is "repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contacts upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person". The accent here should be on the word 'repeated'. One visit or letter from a bailiff does not constitute harassment.

Written transcripts of conversations are a waste of time, except as a record for your files. They prove nothing,because the other party cannot be verified. You might simply have made the whole conversation (or parts of it) up.

By far the best way of conducting a dialogue of this nature is, as the Citizens' advice people said, via email. Neither party can say 'I didn't get the email', which can certainly be the case with letters.

  WhiteTruckMan 15:08 12 Nov 2012

There is no definitive legal description of the term, but one that can usually be relied on is "repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contacts upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person"

Yep, that pretty much describes the pile of letters I have from them. I dont know if anyone has actually tried visiting while everyone was out though. But I am concerned about such actions possibly linking my address to a bad credit reference.

In terms of a transcript, I was thinking that a direct quotation from such would be helpful when dealing with the council if accompanied by words to the effect of 'would you like to hear the actual spoken words?'. I dont think that would contravene the law, as I would be discussing it with the organisation that I made the call to. It still strikes me as unfair though that the council could disclose a recording to their own in house legal representatives, but I couldnt go to a lawyer myself with such.

Anyhow, I've decided to go down the written route anyhow.


  Forum Editor 16:15 12 Nov 2012

All of what you say in your last post makes perfect sense to me. The " pile of letters" would certainly constitute harassment if they continued to come despite your attempts to stop them by speaking to the bailiffs' office.

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