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:
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.
Private Prosecution Services for Businesses & Individuals