In Quebec, a private investigator does not have the authority of a police officer or a criminal investigator. He must complete a 135-hour college training course and obtain a certificate from the BSP (Public Security Office).
The investigator must conduct the necessary investigations to bring the truth to light by defining an investigation strategy and by carrying out the legal acts (findings, hearings, shadowing) aimed at ascertaining the offences, gathering evidence and searching for and challenging the authors.
Subsequently, he must make the result of his investigations available to the court by reporting them to the magistrates, sending them the procedure and evidence, presenting them to the persons implicated and testifying before a court of law.
The use of forensic investigators is widespread in the business world and for legal research. On the other hand, the investigator cannot do shadowing as he sees fit: he needs a warrant or the suspicion of serious misconduct or offence. He must respect the laws in force regarding shadowing, surveillance and listening. When a company uses a private investigator, it is to prove serious misconduct such as theft, fraud, theft of trade secrets and certain abuses of power.
In divorce cases, the investigator’s services will be used to provide evidence of suspicions of non-compliance with agreements by one of the parties involved. Shadowing will be used, for example, to check parenting skills, that children are safe, that the lifestyle does not hide income, etc.
Financial and insurance institutions also use investigators to conduct research and collect evidence of fraudulent misappropriations by individuals and businesses. They are there to ferret out fraudsters and compile cases that lead to lawsuits. Working in the shadows and often in secret, they will follow the traces of people they suspect of thwarting the rules, and who create risks of losses for businesses.
In short, they are hired to catch out people who, with a reasonable suspicion, are breaking the established laws and obligations in our society.