Private Prosecutions

04/10/2016

At Hine Solicitors we regularly undertake the defence of individuals and companies who face private prosecutions. A private prosecution can be taken by any anyone who is not acting on behalf of the police or prosecuting authority.

Private prosecutions have seen a rapid rise in the past few years particularly due to the fact the police and Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”) resources are significantly stretched. There are a number of cases where their resources are simply not sufficient in order to consider complex cases particularly in financial and business crime.
Should you face a private prosecution, there are a number of ways to challenge and defend yourself. At Hine Solicitors we have an expert team of solicitors and advocates who specialise in this area of work.

In most cases, representations should be made to the Director of Public Prosecutions (“DPP”) pursuant to Section 6(2) Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. Essentially, this allows the DPP to review the case with a view to taking over and discontinuing it. The Prosecutor at that stage will have to apply the “full code test” considering both the evidential and public interest elements.

Therefore if the DPP are satisfied that there is no realistic prospect of conviction or it is not in the public interest to prosecute the matter, they should take over the case and discontinue it. This is an important safeguard against the abuse or overuse of private prosecutions.

In reviewing the case, the DPP are required to review all material in their possession which is particularly important if there was a previous police investigation which did not result in a prosecution.

Due to the increase in private prosecutions, the courts are wary of civil actions being pursued in the Criminal Courts. As in a usual criminal case, an application to dismiss the charges could be made pursuant to paragraph 2 of schedule 3 to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

The Court in those circumstances should dismiss the case if it appears that ‘the evidence against the defendant would not be sufficient for him to be properly convicted.’

It is therefore crucial that all cases are scrutinised and reviewed from an early stage. Should you face a private prosecution and require assistance, please contact our Business Crime team at Gerrards Cross on 01753 482 400.

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