The use of digital evidence in family cases
The use of technological and digital evidence in court cases is forever on the increase, especially in family cases where one party is trying to show how the other’s behaviour should be taken into account when deciding on child contact arrangements or financial settlements. One such recent case highlights not only the use of such technology but also how it can be doctored.
During proceedings relating to a child, the mother presented evidence to the court of the child’s father allegedly making an abusive phone call to her and threatening her. She had an audio recording of the conversation but the father insisted that he never made the phone call and had never threatened the mother. The father was adamant in his defence despite listening to the recording and conceding the voice on the recording sounded like him and used words which he might otherwise use with his accent and intonations.
The father was able to prove his case, however, by showing that the audio file had been doctored and was a deepfake. The father was able to obtain the original audio file and looking at the metadata of the file he was able to show it had been manipulated. His lawyers commented on the fact that the family court judges may not necessarily be aware of the ability people have to create fake audio or video files, let alone have the confidence or the knowledge to explore whether such evidence is real or fake.
It is important that people are aware such things exist and to be mindful of these issues when presented with any digital evidence in their case.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.