Secretly recorded telephone conversations were a strong evidence for winning legal cases. However, recording conversations without a person’s knowledge is considered a breach of that person’s right to privacy.
According to Washington’s anti-SLAPP law, lawyers, attorneys and legal firms secretly recording telephone conversations will no longer be protected by the law. The court ruled that when lawyers surreptitiously record conversations to gather evidence in a litigation matter, that activity does not involve "public participation and petition" so as to be protected by the state statute that forbids "strategic lawsuits against public participation", or SLAPPs.
The recent case was that of Jason Dillon vs. Seattle Deposition Reporters. Jason Dillon filed a suit against Seattle Deposition Reporters, LLC, Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, and James Grant (collectively SDR), alleging certain violations of the privacy act for having recorded Dillon’s telephone conversations with Grant and Cassandra Kennan without his knowledge.
Different legislation applies in each state and territory in relation to the recording of conversations. Lawyers as well as businesses should abide by this legislation.
While covert recording of telephone conversations is illegal, businesses do depend a lot on telephone recordings that are perfectly legal. For instance, telephone recordings come in useful when businesses need to verify details of business or financial transactions. These recordings are also useful for settling disputes, for improving customer service quality and market research. Usually businesses are allowed by federal laws to monitor calls that are related to the business. However, the following aspects must be given due consideration when recording phone calls.
- Federal and state laws
- Exceptions such as "business telephone exceptions" and federal exceptions
- States that require one party/two party notifications
- Recording the phone calls of parties located in two different jurisdictions
Telephone recordings need to be transcribed and this has to be accurately done eliminating the background noises and other disturbances that affect the clarity of the audio. The practical way of ensuring clear transcripts is by entrusting the transcription of the recordings to a reliable legal transcription company where there will be audio experts on staff that can improve the quality of the transcripts with scrupulous editing and multilevel quality checks.