Although a legal professional will know exactly what constitutes as illegally obtained information, some of these views are lost on the layman who may not understand the implications of possessing information that was illegally obtained. Take a look at what constitutes illegally obtained information, and make sure that you know of the implications should your illegally obtained information be brought to light in court.

The court will expect both the defendant as well as the plaintiff to produce evidence that has a bearing on the case at hand. However, during cases involving divorce as well as child custody in South Africa, either one or both parties often believe that their partners or ex-partners will withhold information that is critical to the trial. Some feel that it is necessary to “self-help”, and find evidence or information that the other party may be hiding from the court.

How they come about this information may be described as theft by the other party. In such cases, not only would the individual’s credibility be questioned in court, but they may even be found guilty of committing a criminal offence. Some of the actions that are seen as criminal involve illegally accessing electronic devices, illegally accessing a person’s online and bank accounts, contacting an employer/colleague/associate to find out information regarding the partner/ex-partner and divulging information about an ongoing court case, and in certain events breaking and entering the premises or workspace of a partner/ex-partner. Taking documents and hard-copy information made out to the partner/ex-partner is also considered theft if done without their knowledge and approval.

How to avoid such a situation is simple. If an individual suspects that the partner/spouse/ex-partner is withholding information that is critical regarding the court’s proceedings, then the individual must bring such claims to the court’s attention. It is the duty of solicitors, attorneys, and sheriffs of the court to follow up on claims and gather evidence through the proper (and legal) channels. If the illegally obtained information is brought to a family law attorney regarding a case of divorce or child custody in South Africa, the attorney is obliged to turn the evidence in at court and notify the spouse/ex-spouse’s attorney about the information.