Civil investigators mainly handle investigations under civil law. Their tasks include, among others: the tracing of people who disappeared without paying their accounts to one or more businesses or without making arrangements for the payment of their debts, and the gathering of evidence for use in civil court cases. Civil investigators can also work as insurance investigators or as security officers at a company.
This occupation involves both office and outdoor work - usually civil investigators do their outdoor work in the morning, for example, tracing people, cars and goods and then liaise with their clients in the afternoon. Civil investigators have to report daily on their activities and expenses, and present progress reports regularly to their clients, after which they sometimes receive further instructions.
Legal firms are the largest providers of employment to civil investigators, who use them to trace people who neglect to pay their debts. Other important clients are businesses, especially those that sell goods on hire-purchase, and insurance companies that appoint civil investigators to trace witnesses or gather evidence in connection with accidents. Civil investigators often have to testify in court.
Civil investigators must be able to brave all types of weather conditions in their outdoor work, and they sometimes need to have extreme tact in situations where they have to deal with people who are unfriendly or even hostile. It sometimes happens that they find themselves in very delicate circumstances. At all times, their behaviour must be impeccable, especially where they have to take drastic action, taking goods back.
There are many kinds of civil investigations:
Personal injury: How an injury occurred in order to determine potential compensation.
Workers' compensation: Uncover and prevent insurance fraud.
Missing person investigations: Conduct a missing person investigation to uncover information about people who are missing.
Child custody and abuse: Reveals the potential negligence and mistreatment of children.
Marital: Marital disputes relating to a cheating spouse or unethical financial behaviour within a marriage.
Compulsory subjects: None, however students studying studying Forensic Science must take Mathematics and Physical Science. Students wanting to study a BCom (Law) must take Mathematics. Students must pass a National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
In addition to these requirements each university has its own entry requirements based on an admission point score (APS).
Degree: A degree in Criminology or in Law (an LLB degree) will be useful.
Training will depend on the type of investigations being conducted. For example, training as a detective in the Police will be useful. Alternatively, training as a social worker will be useful in domestic abuse cases.
Law Society of SA
304 Brooks Street, Menlo Park, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 366-8800