Court of Appeal Backs ‘Bin Diving’

Posted: 26th July 2011

With a row having brewed up between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur over allegations that West Ham made payments to a member of the committee responsible for making the decision (decided in West ham’s favour) over the use of the Olympic Stadium when the 2012 Olympics are over, it is worth reminding readers that there have been a few cases lately dealing with the way information has been obtained. In the Spurs v Hammers bust-up, West Ham are alleging that Tottenham used unlawful methods to acquire the evidence that they are attempting to use to get the decision reopened.
In a recent case, a man who had obtained a judgment for $75 million against a Lebanese company employed enquiry agents who engaged in ‘bin diving’ to acquire information about the other company. The company had been using a variety of stratagems to avoid paying him. The investigators removed documents form the company’s rubbish, copied them and returned them to the bin bags.
Paper in Dustbin
The company argued that the enquiry agents’ conduct was unlawful on various grounds. Their first allegation, of theft, was dismissed outright, since there had been no intention permanently to deprive the company of their property, which in any case could have been considered to have been abandoned.
The company’s second argument, that the documents had been obtained by trespass, also failed. The refuse sacks were in a public place. There was no trespass.
Lastly, the conduct of the company had been such that even if a prima facie case could be made that the way the evidence had been gathered was unlawful, given the company’s previous conduct, there was little realistic prospect of persuading a judge that it should be excluded from being admitted as evidence.