Listening Devices Act


Published: 1972-12-27

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Listening Devices Act
LISTENING DEVICES [CH.90 – 1


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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

LISTENING DEVICES
CHAPTER 90

LISTENING DEVICES

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

SECTION

1. Short title.
2. Interpretation.
3. Prohibition of use of listening devices.
4. Prohibition of communication of private conversations recorded by listening devices.
5. Authorisation of use of listening devices for public purposes.
6. Authorisations to be prima facie evidence.
7. Irrelevant records to be destroyed.
8. Advertising listening devices prohibited.
9. Prosecutions and penalties.
10. Evidence of private conversations unlawfully obtained inadmissible.


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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

CHAPTER 90

LISTENING DEVICES
An Act to regulate the use of certain devices for

listening to private conversations, and for connected
purposes.

[Commencement 27th December, 1972]
1. This Act may be cited as the Listening Devices Act.
2. (1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise

requires —
“listening device” means any instrument, apparatus,

equipment or device capable of being used to
hear, listen to or record a private conversation
while it is taking place;

“private conversation” means any words spoken by
one person to another in circumstances indicat-
ing that those persons or either of them desire
the words to be heard or listened to only by
themselves or by themselves and some other
person, but does not include a conversation
made in circumstances under which the parties
to the conversation ought reasonably to expect
the conversation to be overheard.

(2) A reference in this Act to a listening device does
not include a reference to a hearing aid or similar device
used by a person to overcome an impairment of hearing so
as to enable him to hear sounds ordinarily audible to the
human ear.

(3) A reference in this Act to a party to a private
conversation is a reference —

(a) to a person by or to whom words are spoken in
the course of that conversation; and also

(b) to a person who, with the consent, express or
implied, of any of the persons by or to whom
words are spoken in the course of that conversa-
tion, hears, listens to or records those words.

22 of 1972
E.L.A.O., 1974

Short title.

Interpretation.

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STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

3. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) of
this section, any person who uses a listening device to hear,
listen to or record a private conversation to which he is not
a party shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

(2) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply —
(a) where the person using the listening device does

so in accordance with an authorisation given to
him under section 5 of this Act; or

(b) to the unintentional hearing of a private
conversation over a telephone.

(3) The court by which a person is convicted of an
offence under this section may order that any listening
device used in the commission of the offence shall be
forfeited and disposed of as the court may think fit.

4. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of
this section, any person who communicates or publishes to
any other person a private conversation or a report of or the
substance, meaning or purport of a private conversation
that has come to his knowledge as a result of the use of a
listening device used in contravention of section 3 of this
Act shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

(2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of
this section, any person who, having been a party to a
private conversation and having used a listening device to
hear, listen to or record that conversation, subsequently
communicates or publishes to any other person any record
of the conversation made directly or indirectly by the use
of a listening device shall be guilty of an offence against
this Act.

(3) Subsection (1) or (2) of this section shall not
apply where the communication or publication —

(a) is made to a party to the private conversation or
with the consent, express or implied, of such a
party; or

(b) is not more than is reasonably necessary —
(i) in the public interest;
(ii) in the performance of a duty of the person

making the communication or publication;
or

(iii) for the protection of the lawful interests of
that person; or

Prohibition of
use of listening
devices.

Prohibition of
communication
of private
conversations
recorded by
listening devices.

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(c) is made to a person who has, or is believed on
reasonable grounds by the person making the
communication or publication to have, such an
interest in the private conversation as to justify
the making of the communication or publication
under the circumstances under which it is made;
or

(d) is made in accordance with an authorisation
referred to in paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of
section 3 of this Act by a person who used the
listening device to hear, listen to or record the
private conversation pursuant to the authorisa-
tion.

5. (1) Where the Minister responsible for National
Security is satisfied that the interests of the defence or the
internal security of The Bahamas so require, he may in
writing authorise the use by any person specified in the
authorisation of a listening device for such period (not
exceeding thirty days) and in such manner as may be so
specified.

(2) Where the Commissioner of Police after consulta-
tion with the Attorney-General is satisfied —

(a) that, for the purpose of the conduct by a police
officer of an investigation into an offence that
has been committed or that the Commissioner
believes to have been committed, the use of a
listening device is necessary; or

(b) that an offence is about to be, or is reasonably
likely to be, committed and that, for the purpose
of enabling a police officer to obtain evidence of
the commission of the offence or the identity of
the offender, the use of a listening device is
necessary,

the Commissioner after consultation with the Attorney-
General, may in writing authorise the use by a police
officer of a listening device for that purpose in such
manner and for such period (not exceeding fourteen days)
as may be specified in the authorisation.

Authorisation of
use of listening
devices for
public purposes.
E.L.A.O., 1974.

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STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

(3) Without prejudice to the powers of the
Commissioner of Police under subsection (2) of this section,
in relation to an offence against the Tariff Act, or the
Customs Management Act, the provisions of that subsec-
tion shall have effect with the substitution —

(a) for references to the Commissioner of Police, of
references to the Comptroller of Customs; and

(b) for references to a police officer, of references to
a customs officer.

(4) A record of the particulars of every authorisation
given by any person under this section shall be kept by
him.

6. A document purporting to be an authorisation
given under section 5 of this Act shall in all courts and on
all occasions, without proof of the signature of the person
purporting to have signed the document, be prima facie
evidence that the person specified in the document as the
person to whom the authorisation was given was
authorised under that section to use a listening device in
accordance with the terms of the document.

7. Where any record is made, whether in writing or
otherwise, of information obtained by the use of a listening
device pursuant to an authorisation given by any person
under section 5 of this Act, that person shall, as soon as
possible after that record has been made, cause to be
destroyed so much of the record as does not relate directly
or indirectly to the purpose for which the authorisation was
given.

8. Any person who in any way advertises or
publicly exhibits a listening device with the intention or
apparent intention of promoting its use or sale shall be
guilty of an offence against this Act.

9. (1) Every offence against this Act shall be
prosecuted summarily.

(2) Any person convicted of an offence against this
Act shall be liable to a fine not exceeding two thousand
dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six
months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Ch. 295.
Ch. 293.

Authorisations to
be prima facie
evidence.

Irrelevant
records to be
destroyed.

Advertising
listening devices
prohibited.

Prosecutions and
penalties.

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10. (1) Where a private conversation has come to
the knowledge of person as a result, direct or indirect, of
the use of a listening device used in contravention of
section 3 of this Act, evidence of that conversation may not
be given by that person in any civil or criminal
proceedings.

(2) Subsection (1) of this section shall not render
inadmissible the evidence of a private conversation —

(a) that has come to the knowledge of the person
giving evidence if a party to the conversation
consents to that evidence being given; or

(b) in any prosecution for an offence against this
Act.

Evidence of
private
conversations
unlawfully
obtained
inadmissible.