HIRING A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: NOTES FROM BEHIND THE LENS
If you’ve commenced, or are thinking about commencing, divorce proceedings against your spouse, you may also be thinking about hiring a private investigator (PI) to support your case. We got Phillip and Marie from Commercial Investigations LLP to demystify the surveillance process, explaining what PIs can (and can’t) do, and providing some things to consider before you hire one.
Q: What work might a PI do in a matrimonial case?
A: We can collect photographic or video evidence of adultery or unreasonable behaviour, as well as conduct investigations into matters like custody, maintenance, and assets.
Q: How do you prove adultery in your work?
A: To divorce on the basis of adultery, the existence of a sexual relationship outside the marriage must be proven. If there is no irrefutable evidence of the act, the courts also accept circumstantial evidence of adultery, such as photos of the parties being intimate in a car or checking into a hotel together.
Q: Is the evidence you gather admissible in court?
A: Yes. Hiring a PI is legal in Singapore and the evidence will be admissible – so long as the PI agency is licensed and the methods of gathering the evidence were legal.
Q: How do you trail a target? Do you use vehicle tracking?
A: Mainly by using physical manpower/on foot. We can’t install a tracker on a vehicle if a client is not its rightful owner. Furthermore, a tracker is subject to a wide margin of error, as it only reveals rough locations and may not work in certain areas. We might arrive too late to capture photographic evidence of the target.
Q: What if the target travels abroad? Could you follow them overseas?
A: We try to gather intelligence to find out where the target will be travelling to in advance. If we can determine this, we would deploy a party to fly there ahead of the target. There have also been instances where we weren’t able to predetermine the target’s destination but managed to get on the same flight as them.
Q: Can you access digital devices (e.g. laptops, smartphones, tablets) to gather information?
A: Only if the client is the rightful owner or subscriber of the device. Otherwise, we will advise the client accordingly.
Q: What other things should I consider?
A: 1) Only hire a licensed PI agency. All PIs need to undergo training and hold licences issued by the Singapore Police Force.
2) The cost of the investigation, which will be in addition to the cost of the divorce proceedings. This will vary based on the duration, complexity, and manpower required for the investigation.
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