Many people are unaware of what the law says when it comes to recording conversations in Qld.
And that’s completely understandable; unless you’re a journalist or undercover detective, you probably have little need to record conversations in your day-to-day life.
But what happens if you do wish to record a conversation, either between yourself and another person, or between someone else and another person, to use as evidence in court? Or what happens if your conversation has been covertly recorded to be used as evidence against you in a criminal case? Is it legal, and is consent required?
We share what you need to know about recording conversations in Qld, and what’s admissible in court.
Do You Need Consent To Legally Record A Private Conversation?
The laws differ from state to state. The Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 (Qld) outlines the laws regarding the recording of conversations in Queensland.
The Act states that any participant in a private conversation, whether it be in person, via telephone or other electronic communication such as Zoom, WhatsApp or FaceTime, can legally record the conversation in Queensland without any knowledge or consent of the other party/parties to the conversation.
The Act also defines “private conversation” as:
“any words spoken by one person to another person in circumstances that indicate that those persons desire the words to be heard or listened to only by themselves or that indicate that either of those persons desires the words to be heard or listened to only by themselves and by some other person, but does not include words spoken by one person to another person in circumstances in which either of those persons ought reasonably to expect the words may be overheard, recorded, monitored or listened to by some other person, not being a person who has the consent, express or implied, of either of those persons to do so”.
In a nutshell, provided that you are a participant in the conversation, then you are not doing anything unlawful by recording that conversation.
Can I Legally Distribute, Share or Publish a Conversation?
In Queensland, you cannot legally publish or distribute a conversation without consent of the other party or parties.
The Act defines publishing as “playing, reproducing or copying the recording”.
There are exceptions to this, which includes that the recording was published and:
- You had express or implied consent of all those involved in the conversation;
- You made the recording during legal proceedings to use in court.
- It was necessary for the interests of the public;
- It was reasonably necessary so that you could perform a duty;
- It was reasonably necessary to protect your lawful interests; or
- You made it to a person you believe has an interest which makes disclosure reasonable.
Can the Police Record My Conversation?
Yes, in Queensland, the police can record your conversation legally without your consent. This will be the case where the police, or an informant, is talking to you covertly.
In the instance where you are being interviewed by the police in a formal setting at a Police Station, they are required to record this interview electronically. They will make this known to you at the time of interview.
Can Police Confiscate My Phone If They Believe I have Recorded a Crime?
If the police believe you have recorded evidence on your phone of a crime being committed, police may attempt to confiscate your phone.
Section 29(2)(a) of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act states that the Queensland police can seize anything from you “that may provide evidence of the commission of an offence”.
However, to do this, they must reasonably suspect that it is necessary to search you without a search warrant. They cannot simply confiscate your phone if they see you recording them, nor can they ask you to stop recording (unless your recording is obstructing them in the course of duty) or ask you to delete your recording.
What Can Be Used As Evidence in Court in a Criminal Case?
As long as recording the conversation was not unlawful, and the person recording it was a party to the conversation (or they were a police officer), the recorded conversation is usually admissible and can be used as evidence in court, including in criminal cases.
Need Legal Advice Regarding Recording Conversations in Qld
At Guest Lawyers, our expert lawyers can help you to understand more about recording conversations in Qld legally, as well as what can be used as evidence in a court. As one of the leading criminal law firms in Brisbane, we will guide you through the legal process and ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.