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Private detective profession - Frequently asked questions

PROCAP DETECTIVE TOULON - Private detective profession - Frequently asked questions

Do you have questions about the private detective profession? Here is an overview of the most frequently asked questions.

Is the detective profession regulated?

The answer is yes. The profession of private detective is governed by the provisions of Book VI – Title II of the Internal Security Code. Article L621-1 of the Internal Security Code defines the profession of private law detective-investigator as the “liberal activity which consists of a person collecting information, even without stating their capacity or revealing the purpose of their mission, information or intelligence intended for third parties, with a view to defending their interests. »

Access to and exercise of the profession of private detective is very regulated. Being a detective requires holding personal approval and a professional card for the manager, and a license to practice for the firm, these being issued by the National Council for Private Security Activities, an administrative establishment for the control of private security activities. , placed under the authority of the Ministry of the Interior, established by Law No. 2011-267 of March 14, 2011 and entered into force on January 1, 2012. The exercise of the profession of private detective without authorization is punishable by sanctions criminal.

Authorizations and approvals are issued after exhaustive examination of the applicant's file. This must provide proof of holding a higher professional qualification registered in the RNCP and defined by decree to the Council of State, and of a total absence of criminal or criminal conviction. He must, in addition, respond to an administrative morality investigation carried out by State services and justify compliance with the rules and principles of the Code of Ethics of the profession, as well as all reporting obligations under common law.

How can I verify that a detective is licensed?

A private detective has three titles, represented by a series of alphanumeric symbols, constituting his authorizations to practice and which it is possible to verify, these being issued by the CNAPS: the authorization number (AUT), the manager's approval number (AGD), professional card number (CAR).

In accordance with the provisions of the Internal Security Code (CSI), authorization, approval and professional card numbers must appear on all documents issued by the Firm (quotes, invoices, agreements, reports, etc.). .).

Verification of titles and authorizations can be requested directly from the firm in question, but also from the CNAPS.

Requests for verification of titles and authorizations can also be made using the teleservice called “DRAKAR”, approved by the CNAPS, by going to the following address:

What are a detective's reports worth? Are they recognized by the courts?

The question relating to the admissibility of private investigation reports before a court is no longer debated today. Consistent case law since 1962 confirms the sui generis admissibility of investigation reports, provided however that they present the guarantees of proportionality, impartiality, objectivity, and that the information mentioned or the facts observed are detailed, devoid of infringing nature and obtained in a legal and fair manner (absence of fraud or invasion of privacy). These conditions met, the investigation reports produced by an approved detective are admissible and can be debated in the same way as any documents legally produced in support of a legal request.

As an approved professional, the private law investigator is deemed to have mastered the conditions of admissibility of his report; these are at the heart of his profession and are dictated and conditioned by specific procedural rules.

To tell the truth, the question is not so much whether the investigation reports are admissible or not, because they are admissible if they were carried out by an approved detective and on a regular basis, and that they meet the rules of a given procedure, but rather to know what probative force the elements contained have with regard to a given legal problem and whether or not they bind the judge in his power of appreciation. In this regard, the answers can be multiple and depend more on considerations relating to the “regime of evidence in French law” than on the report itself as a product formally materializing the investigative work and serving as supporting evidence. In French evidentiary law, apart from the proof of authentic acts and certain legal acts, where the proof is called legal because it is imperative (imposed by law), the regime of proof for legal facts and certain legal acts is called free: the The judge is free to sovereignly assess the value of the elements presented to him.

Is a detective bound by professional secrecy?

The answer is a big “Yes”, and it is in fact the backbone of his profession and its primary reason for being. As with a psychologist, a doctor, or a lawyer, the detective is the recipient of intimate personal information that he must scrupulously protect. This confidentiality is not only a guarantee of seriousness, but a legal, imperative and fundamental obligation. It is hard to imagine that it would be otherwise. Professional secrecy is guaranteed by article 226-13 and 226-14 of the Penal Code, by article R631-9 of the Code of Ethics for natural or legal persons carrying out private security activities and confirmed by a decision of the National Commission for Security Ethics , an independent administrative authority responsible, by law, for controlling the ethics of the Police, the Gendarmerie , and other public security services but also private detectives. She recalled that “professional secrecy constitutes the basis of the ethics of private law investigators”. In the exercise of his duties, a detective is in possession of intimate and personal information of which he must scrupulously preserve confidentiality. Violating this secret, whether recklessly or deliberately, is not only contrary to the ethics of the profession, but is also extremely serious. Logically, you can confide in a detective with your eyes closed.

Are detectives subject to ethics?

Yes. Private detectives, like all private security players, are subject to a Code of Ethics ( Cf. Decree n°2012-870 of July 10, 2012 relating to the Code of ethics of natural or legal persons carrying out private security activities ). Pursuant to article R631-3 of the same Code, this must be visibly displayed in any private security company and referred to in contracts signed. The Code of Ethics sets out a certain number of rules and principles that any company or private security agent (including private detectives) must respect: dignity, respect for the laws, confidentiality, professionalism, loyalty, transparency and honesty, obligation to advise, refusal of illegal services, assignment of a legal framework, etc.

How much does a detective cost?

Private detectives exercise a regulated, liberal profession. As a result, there is no uniformity in the practice of fees: each firm freely determines the amount and terms of its pricing policy.

As a general rule, the price of an investigation will depend on several factors: its duration, its geographical location, the type of problem, the difficulty and extent of the case, the issues, the human and material resources necessary, the financial capabilities of the client (individual, company, association, etc.), the valuation of the professional's service linked to his experience or reputation, the related costs generated by the mission (mileage, catering, hotels, travel, etc.). An investigation involving several protagonists will not have the same cost as an investigation which concerns a single person. The same applies to a mission whose place of operation is locally or abroad. A competent and experienced professional must be able to foresee and anticipate all budget items and the general cost of the mission.

Some firms offer complete service packages, while others favor billing by the hour (or day) performed (prorata temporis). Whatever the pricing method chosen, a detective must always provide you before any investigation with a fair and detailed estimate of the cost of his service as well as a clear explanation of the planned services. Do not hesitate to ask for and compare several proposals or quotes.

Can I request that the investigation costs be covered by the opposing party?

Yes. In the context of civil and commercial procedures, it is possible to request reimbursement of all or part of the investigation costs from the opposing party on the basis of article 700 of the code of civil procedure. relating to irrecoverable costs, that is to say not included in the costs.

In two judgments of the Court of Appeal (CA Paris 01/29/1988 and 12/22/2000) and a decision of the commercial court (TC Créteil 01/27/1999) the request for reimbursement of the private detective's fees was accepted. The judges considered that the latter's investigations were necessary to ensure the defense of the applicant party.

This request for payment of sums by the opposing party is open and commonly used for the costs of bailiffs, lawyers and legal experts.

Can a detective replace the police or the gendarmerie?

No, a detective cannot in any way replace the police or the gendarmerie. The two professions are different and relate to distinct fields, but they can in certain contexts be or become complementary. A detective is a professional in private law, who intervenes in civil and commercial procedures for the defense of private interests, as well as in the field of criminal offenses, excluding the phase of exercise of public action . The police and gendarmerie have no jurisdiction or authority to intervene in civil or commercial proceedings. They operate exclusively within the scope defined by the code of criminal procedure.

It is necessary to remember that the authorization to exercise does not confer on the detective a prerogative of public power, as such he cannot fulfill an administrative or judicial police function (collecting a complaint, placing him in police custody , prosecute criminally, etc.).

When he enters the criminal field, a detective refrains from any action during the phase of an official investigation (flagrance, preliminary, judicial information). These procedures are governed by the code of criminal procedure and are the exclusive jurisdiction of the police and gendarmerie services.

The detective can, however, intervene before the opening of an investigation (with a view to collecting elements for filing a complaint, for example), or afterwards (with a view to filing an appeal), but during the investigation he refrains from any investigation which can be interpreted as a obstructing the exercise of justice.

Can a private detective carry a weapon?

No, the law categorically prohibits private detectives from carrying weapons (art.R-631-11 of the Code of Ethics). Not only are the carrying, acquisition and use of weapons strictly prohibited, but also any communication suggesting the possession of a weapon during the execution of a mission. A detective cannot, at the risk of breaking the law, suggest, in the accomplishment of his missions, that he holds a weapon, and even less with a view to obtaining information or to coerce someone.


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