Antoine SENEX

The code of ethics of the private detective has existed since July 10, 2012 and the publication of decree n ° 2012-870 taken for the application of the law of March 14, 2011 of orientation and programming for the performance of internal security and planned by Article L. 632-1 of the Internal Security Code.

The CNAPS creates the code of ethics for private detectives

Created in March 2012 for its legislative part and in March 2013 for its regulatory part, the CSI internal security code provides for the creation of the CNAPS, the National Council for Private Security Activities. The role of this public body is in particular to issue authorizations to professionals and to control them.

To this end, Article L. 632-1 of the CSI provides for the creation of a code of ethics at the initiative of the CNAPS:

“The National Council for Private Security Activities, a legal person governed by public law, is responsible for:
2 ° A disciplinary mission. It ensures the discipline of the profession and prepares a code of ethics of the profession approved by decree of the Council of State (…) “.

Also, if codes existed previously, they were created only on the initiative of professional unions and were specific to each of them. While the approach was laudable, these codes therefore had no legal value. The code of ethics created by the CNAPS is therefore the first code of ethics for private detectives with legal value.

Ethics of private security activities

The code of ethics for detectives was therefore created by decree n ° 2012-870 dated July 10, 2012. Subsequently, by decree n ° 2014-1253 of October 27, 2014, the code of ethics is incorporated into the code of internal security.

deontology private detectiveSince October 2014, we can therefore find the code of ethics of private investigators in the regulatory part of the code of internal security, book VI title III chapter I, articles R631-1 to R631-32.

This code of ethics is common to all private security activities for which the CNAPS is responsible:

  • activities of private research agencies
  • personal protection activities
  • private surveillance and security activities
  • ship protection activities
  • CIT activities

We will endeavor to draw out the essential points with regard to the profession of private investigator, private research agent.

Note that the official name of this code is Code of ethics of natural or legal persons exercising private security activities. In addition to setting the ethics of the private detective, it brings together the ethical obligations of all private security professions supervised by the CNAPS.

General provisions on the ethics of private detective

The code applies to any natural or legal person, including manager, manager, partner, trainee. Whatever the conditions for carrying out the activity, they are all considered to be actors in private security (article R631-1).

Any failure to respect the code will be penalized according to the penal and administrative provisions (article R631-2).

The code of ethics is communicated to all employees as soon as they are hired and the mandate contract signed between the client and the detective may refer to it (article R631-3).

Article R631-7 reviews the professional attitude that private investigators should adopt:

“In all circumstances, private security actors refrain from acting contrary to probity, honor and dignity. They show good judgment and humanity. (…) “

Investigators must show respect and loyalty among colleagues and in particular avoid any unfair competition and disparagement.

At the same time, any breach or ethical breach must be revealed. (Article R631-8)

Professional secrecy and ethics of the private investigator

Professional secrecy is one of the foundations of the private detective profession.

If the detective has always been subject to professional secrecy, there was no reference text on the matter but a multitude of legal or case-law references. Also, the code of ethics enshrines the professional secrecy of the private research agent through its article R631-9 entitled Confidentiality.

It provides in particular that:

“(…) Private security players respect the strict confidentiality of information, technical procedures and uses of which they are aware in the course of their activity.
They refrain from making any use of documents or information of an internal nature of which they have become aware, in the performance of their duties, with a former employer or internship supervisor, except with the prior express consent of the latter “.

Commercial reports

Commercial procedures must be carried out in such a way as to respect the dignity of the profession (article R631-18).

In addition, article R631-21 specifies:

“(…) They refrain from accepting and maintaining commercial relations, lasting or successive, based on abnormally low service prices that do not allow them to meet legal obligations, particularly social ones. “

The private detective has an obligation of advice and loyalty, and he must direct his client towards a service proportionate to his needs (article R631-20).
They must refuse any illegal assignment (article R631-21) and are required to take out professional liability insurance (article R631-22).

Mandate contract between client and private investigator

Private detective ethics The use of subcontracting must be stipulated in the mandate contract as well as articles 1, 2, 3 and 5 of Law No. 75-1334 of December 31, 1975 relating to subcontracting. Otherwise, such a practice is only possible after written information to the customer (article R631-23).

The mandate contract must specify the conditions and means of performance of the service (article R631-24).

Article R631-30 stipulates that the mandate contract must be in writing and must define the “devolved mission and the legal framework”. It must also specify the amount of fees allocated for the mission. Subsequently, the investigator must inform the client

“On a regular basis the methods of determining fees and prices and the foreseeable evolution of their amount”.

The amount of the provisional sum paid must remain reasonable (it is customary to request a provision of 50% of the total fees of the mission).

The contract must specify the obligations of means and the obligations of results according to what is agreed between the parties. A clear and precise mandate contract is one of the fundamentals of the ethics of the private detective.

The private detective must be able to justify the proper execution of his mission by providing on request “a copy of the documents, reports or reports relating thereto whatever the result of their mission”.

All employees must be able to present a professional card to customers, authorities or organizations. Also, the code of ethics in no way specifies the conditions for issuing this card. Thus, any card could act as a professional card. It should be noted that the various professional unions issue professional cards of their own making.

Other provisions specific to private investigators

Articles R631-28 to R631-30 are specifically intended for private detectives when the rest of the code is common to all other private security professions. They come back to the information to be provided in the mandate contract as indicated above.

In addition, article R631-28 recalls the obligation to respect the fundamental interests of the nation.

Article R631-29 discusses the conflicts of interest likely to arise if a private research agent were appointed by two different clients in the same case and whose interests would be potentially conflicting. Thus, he could not accept the mission of the second client.

Also, the probity and independence of the investigator must remain intact, and the professional secrecy to which he remains bound by his matters handled must not be violated under any circumstances.

Finally, a private investigator cannot accept a new client’s file if the secrecy of information given by a former client could be violated or favor the new client.

Article R631-31 reviews the billing conditions.

In the event that the billing is not fixed and on request, the private investigator must be able to provide a “precise and separate statement of the fees”. Finally, a detailed account must be provided to the customer where the latter can find there the “costs and disbursements, the tariffed emoluments and the fees” as well as previous installments.

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