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Frequently Asked Questions


Under Section 6(1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 it is possible to bring a criminal prosecution privately without the police, Crown Prosecution Service or Serious Fraud Office.

Yes, in most cases any prosecution can be started by a business, organisation, regulatory body or individual under 6(1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. Some cases are better suited to private prosecutions than others, for example if there are financial assets involved, or there is a need to protect commercial interests or assets and if the criminal act took place in the UK and by perpetrators in the UK.

Existing prosecuting bodies such as the police, Crown Prosecution Service and Serious Fraud Office are under-resourced and frequently do not have the time to investigate cases that affect many businesses and individuals.

Private prosecutions may be worth considering because:

  • they deter future criminal activity
  • there is a possibility of recovering compensation for losses caused by criminal activity
  • the speed within which justice can be obtained privately compared to the traditional public prosecution route - this may be important if commercial interests or assets need to be urgently protected
  • they can provide access to more focused and experienced experts
  • they enable more detailed and time consuming investigations such as tracking down witnesses, obtaining and examining documentary and digital evidence
  • a civil remedy may be out of time, for example statute-barred, leaving private prosecution as the only source of redress

  • Once a client gets in touch, our team will gather as much information as possible about the case including details of any police or other prosecuting body's involvement
  • If the case goes ahead, then evidence will be gathered including from witnesses and experts
  • The evidence will then be assessed, and a decision made as to whether a charge can be made out in accordance with the Crown Prosecution Service's standards
  • If the evidential and public interest standards are met, then a prosecution strategy will be agreed and costed
  • The charge/s will then be put before the Magistrates' Court
  • A series of small hearings will usually follow ahead of the main prosecution trial where the case will be presented by expert prosecution barristers
  • Following the trial, at sentencing any costs, confiscation and compensation orders will be made

Yes. Under Section 6(2) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, at any stage the Director of Public Prosecutions, responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service, can step in and decide that is it more appropriate for them to take on the case rather than it being pursued privately.

This will be then become a public prosecution and the Crown Prosecution Service may decide to discontinue the case, if for example either or both the evidential and/or public interest standards are not met.

The implications of discontinuance can be significant as it means that is it unlikely that the costs of the prosecution will be recovered, nor will there be any opportunity to recover compensation or obtain a confiscation order.

In certain circumstances, depending on how the prosecution has been conducted privately, the prosecutor may have to pay the defendant's costs of defending the case.

For these reasons and to reduce the risk of the Crown Prosecution Service taking over and discontinuing a case, it is very important to make sure that the case is fully and regularly assessed by expert lawyers from the outset.

Crime Prosecutors

Private Prosecution Services for Businesses & Individuals

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