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Private Prosecutions

With strains on public funding having been stretched prior to the pandemic, there are increasingly instances where investigative authorities such as the police, simply do not have the resources to investigate and prosecute.  This is increasingly a concern where allegations of fraud are concerned, as investigations can be lengthy and particularly detailed.  Many find that despite a strong evidential case, authorities decline to take action, citing a lack of resources and manpower.  Where such situations occur, a private prosecution is an option to be considered in order to seek redress. 

Whilst a private prosecution will need to be funded by the person or entity bringing the action, there is provision for recovery of the costs of bringing the prosecution, whether or not a conviction is secured under s17 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.  Further, a recent costs case decision in Fuseon Ltd v Senior Courts Costs Office and The Lord Chancellor [2020] EWHC 126 (Admin) clarifies the position with regards to the recovery of costs, further clarifying the position for the private prosecutor when considering whether to bring an action.

As with any prosecution which is brought before the courts, careful analysis of the evidence will need to take place, and the Full, Code Evidential code will need to be applied, together with the Public Interest test. Assuming these are satisfied, then an application can be made to the Magistrates Court for a summons to be issued, which contains the charges which are being alleged.

Many cases involving private prosecutions will find themselves in the crown court due to the nature and seriousness of the allegations to be tried.  Where financial allegations of loss are made, then consideration may be given to applying for a restraint order, to preserve assets of the accused, which may be at risk of dissipation.

Where a conviction follows in the prosecution case, then potential sanctions will include a custodial sentence where relevant, and the court may be asked to consider whether a confiscation and / or compensation order should be made.

With our broad range of experience in bringing and defending actions brought by way of private prosecution, we can assist in guiding through the process of investigating and bringing a case before the court, and will advise on each and every step to the conclusion.

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