You and the Law – 7th July 2009

Listening in

A friend was recently disciplined for receiving a call at work from his girlfriend.  The call, which was recorded by his employers, contained bad language and unflattering references to his boss.  Should employees and customers be warned if their calls are being monitored? PD

Not necessarily.  Employers can intercept and monitor calls under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 if there are reasonable grounds for believing that both the sender and recipient have consented to the interception.  But even without consent, routine monitoring is permitted under the Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of
Communication) Regulations 2000.  This effectively allows employers to intercept calls to check for compliance with company procedures, to establish the existence of facts, to ascertain standards achieved, to prevent or detect crime, to secure effective operation of the system, and so on. An employee’s employment contract may well cover the subject of monitoring and personal use of the phone.

He’s after my inheritance

I am in an unhappy marriage.  My elderly mother will leave me a considerable sum of money when she dies, and I would like to know whether my husband would be able to claim half of my inheritance should we get divorced after her death.  Is there any way this money could be protected so my son and I would not be penniless should the marriage break down? AW

Your mother could set up a trust fund for you (or your son) with this money but you then may not be able to access the capital either.  You should discuss this with your mother and a solicitor to see if it would be worthwhile. Even if you were to divorce now your husband could lay claim to some of the money you are due to inherit, although it would be more difficult to do.

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