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            Private Prosecutions

            Did you know that any victim of a crime can bring a private prosecution? Yes, any individual or company can bring its own prosecution. It is protected by law.

            In recent years, more and more individuals and companies are pursuing this course of action. This is due in part to resource constraints experienced by the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). 

            We can help

            If you are considering a private prosecution then our Private Prosecution Team at DWF can help. If you have exhausted all other resources available we can help you bring a matter to court.

            How does a private prosecution work?

            Firstly, we will consider and review any and all available evidence you hold and assess the relative strengths/weaknesses of your case. On the basis the evidence passes the CPS code of conduct as set out below we will then prepare your case and lay the information at the Magistrates Court.

            The Process

            There are 2 limbs which form the CPS Code: 

            1. Is there enough evidence against the Defendant to provide a realistic prospect of conviction; and
            2. Is it in the public interest to bring the case to Court.

            The Court will then consider:

            • whether the offence is known to law
            • whether the elements of the offence are met
            • whether it is in time and
            • whether the allegation is vexatious

            On the basis the case satisfies the above criteria, the Magistrates' Court will then issue a summons based on the information provided. This will then be served on the Defendant.

            Key issues to remember 

            • You must ensure that you have exercised all other methods of recourse before turning to a private prosecution.
            • It is always advisable to contact us at the earliest possible opportunity after exhausting all other options.
            • Any private prosecution which fails to satisfy the CPS code risks being taken over by the Director of Public Prosecutions ("DPP") and being discontinued
            • The DPP can take over any cases and stop if it is considered “vexatious” or “malicious”
            • The DPP will also likely take over where any private prosecution is likely to damage the interests of justice
            • A private prosecution can also be stopped if it interferes with any other case or is considered not to be in the public interest.

            Types of prosecutions

            Private prosecutions can be brought in relation to any alleged criminal offences, but the most common types are related to:

            • Fraud
            • Regulatory offences
            • Harassment and stalking
            • Blackmail
            • Rape and other sexual offences
            • Perverting the course of justice
            • Domestic violence
            • Driving offences

            What are the benefits?

            Costs – you are eligible to claim back costs incurred from Central Funds even if you lose or the case is withdrawn

            Defendant costs - unlike other proceedings the general principle is that you will not have to pay the Defendant's costs if you lose your case.

            Speed - unlike civil proceedings, matters can be brought to court very quickly

            Control - you are in control (not a Government agency)

            Expert legal resources - you have access to a better resourced, more focused and efficient team rather than any other public prosecution

            Wider powers of punishment - criminal convictions carry a stigma whilst criminal courts have wider powers to punish from fines and confiscation to imprisonment.

            What next?

            If you have been a victim of an offence and would like to pursue a private prosecution, please contact Jeremy Bird or Amanda Lea directly.

            Jeremy Bird

            • Senior Associate

            Amanda Lea

            • Solicitor

            Richard Burger

            • Partner // Head of Financial Services Regulatory Investigations

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