In England and Wales, individuals or organisations have a long-standing right to commence criminal proceedings.
Such private prosecutions span a wide spectrum. For example, the FCA, Competition and Markets Authority, RSPCA, Transport for London or the Security Industry Authority may bring prosecutions; or corporations or trade bodies may use a private prosecution to protect themselves against complex fraud or intellectual property theft, in circumstances where the case’s complexity requires the intervention of specialist counsel.
Companies and individuals may also bring prosecutions for most criminal offences and especially if they consider that, by some form of deceit or dishonesty, they have been cheated or caused loss by another company or individual.
Private prosecutions are a growth area in an era of public spending cuts when the Police, Crown Prosecution Service, Serious Fraud Office and other prosecuting authorities are suffering budgetary restraints.
Private prosecutions can offer clients more control over decision making, a focussed and thorough degree of preparation and choice of level of legal representation than public prosecutions.
Private Prosecutions are not for the uninitiated and present particular challenges both for the prosecution and the defence. Corporations and individuals may wish to bring prosecutions independently but may also find themselves the target of ill-founded or malicious private prosecutions. The 9 Bedford Row private prosecution team have considerable experience of advising and representing clients on both sides of private prosecutions.
The Team offer advice in relation to the particular challenges that arise in private prosecutions:
- prospects of success
- applying for and resisting the issue of a summons
- applications to the Director of Public Prosecutions to take over and stop a prosecution
- presenting, protection from and/or resisting abuse of process arguments,
disclosure and MGC6 forms
- recovery of evidence from third parties using witness summonses
protection against adverse costs risks and recovery of costs.
Members of the Team are usually instructed by traditional means through solicitors. However, Gary Summers, a member of the Private Prosecutors Association (PPA) has conducted several private prosecutions deploying direct access/licence to litigate arrangements on a low-cost practice model, Gary follows the PPA Code of Practice retaining investigators for the investigation and other members of the Team as trial counsel whilst adopting the ‘CPS role”.