Call recording law

Legality of Call Recording

It is important to understand call recording laws when choosing a call recording solution.

UK Call Recording Law

Ofcom’s website states:

“If you need help in this area you should seek legal advice. Due to the complexities of the laws involved, Ofcom is not in a position to offer guidance”. This may not be helpful. Ofcom took over from Oftel, whose website was more informative.

While it is Ofcom’s responsibility to enforce licence conditions, their interpretation is ultimately a matter for the courts.”

Disclaimer

As a technology company, Retell cannot provide legal advice or accept liability for reliance by any person on any legal information that we pass on, or for any views expressed here.

Is call recording legal?

Interception, recording and monitoring of telephone calls are governed by various pieces of UK legislation, with which compliance is mandatory. Please note in particular:

  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (‘RIPA’)
  • Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice)(Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000 (LBP Regulations)
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999
  • Human Rights Act 1998

Call recording confidentiality at work.

Employees are entitled to access a phone at work that is not recorded.

Are recorded conversations admissible in court?

Recording can help diffuse a dispute rather than escalate it. Most disputes gather pace because one party thinks that another is being difficult or untruthful, or reneging on an agreement.

Suppose you dispute with a customer over something agreed on the phone. On listening to the recording, three possibilities arise:

  • The customer is right and you submit with an easy heart
  • You are right and the customer is wrong; you have a choice of playing the recording to the customer, where they will normally back down; alternatively you might give them what they want, but with the certainty that your systems are correct and the customer is aware of your generosity
  • There was no clear agreement; with it obvious that the conversation was confused a satisfactory outcome is achievable

Legality vs ethics

At Retell we understand the distinction between ethics and legality when recording calls. In a normal business situation, calls recorded for training or customer service can be verified, since either you or an associate was party to the call.

We believe there’s no ethical difference between conducting a telephone conversation then telling a colleague about it, and having the conversation and allowing an associate to listen to its recording. The equivalent is telling a colleague about a letter you’ve received, or letting them actually read it; the difference between a third party reading a letter or listening to a recording, or being told about either, is that by reading or listening to the original they know, word for word, what was said.

However, it would be unethical for yet another party – a competitor, say – to ‘bug’ your offices or telephone lines and so learn your commercial secrets. (Note in this case the “competitor” was not party to the original telephone call, nor did they notify you that the call was being recorded).

UK law rightly makes illegal such third-party interception, where neither party to the call knows the call is being recorded (except by the police to enforce law).

Legality outside the UK

Retell ships telephone call recording equipment to many countries for use by all types of businesses as in the UK, and by developers. Whilst 30 years ago recording was practically unheard of as the technology was not available, now it is a normal part of business practice and is legal in most countries. In some countries an announcement has to be given that calls will be recorded, and our Sense range of telephone call recording equipment is designed for these countries as the ability to play the announcement is an inherent part of the hardware.