It appears that this relatively new practice is on the increase with more and more people requiring the services of a Barrister to defend themselves against this type of matter.
Direct Barristers can put you in contact with a number of leading experts who specialise in this area of the law.
If you find yourself facing a private prosecution, contact one of our friendly team and we will guide you through the process and find you the right Barrister for your needs whether it is simply seeking legal advice or representation in Court.
What is a private prosecution?
Private prosecution is defined as ‘a prosecution started by a private individual who is not acting on behalf of the police or other prosecuting authority’.
The increasing popularity of this method of seeking justice is attributable to a number of factors. In times of austerity and efficiency savings there will be times when traditional authorities, including the police and CPS, face difficulties in pursuing every prosecution.
Reduced funding in these areas has resulted in the CPS having to take difficult decisions on cases where it is not convinced of the strength of its case, and the likelihood of a conviction. This in turn leads to individuals pursuing a private prosecution in their search for justice.
How do private prosecutions work?
Private prosecutions are governed by strict legal codes not dissimilar to those that govern public prosecutions undertaken by the CPS. If someone wishes to pursue a private prosecution, they must provide information to a Magistrate that conveys the following:
- The nature of the offence in question;
- Legislation that governs the offence complained of;
- The particulars that constitute the offence.
- It is only after this information has been conveyed that a Magistrate will agree to issue a Warrant and begin proceedings.
It is however not uncommon for the CPS to become aware of the prosecution and decide to take its own action in respect of either continuing or discontinuing the case. The CPS may become aware of a case following contact from the private prosecutor asking them to take over the conduct of the case or it may be that the Judge refers it to the CPS.
Prior to taking over the conduct of the case the CPS will need to consider:
- Whether the evidence available is capable of being used in court,
- Is the evidence reliable and provides a realistic prospect of conviction;
- What action would be in the interests of the public;
- Whether the interests of justice warrant prosecution.
It may be the case that the CPS had previously made the decision that there was not a realistic chance of conviction hence why it is in the private prosecution arena.
It is crucial that you have the right Barrister in these circumstances and Direct Barristers will connect you with an expert who is familiar with the process and the procedure for handling private prosecutions.
It is often the case that private prosecutions fail this could be as a result of:
- The evidence available is not capable of being used in a court of law
- The evidence is not sufficiently robust to be able to connect an individual to a crime that is alleged to have taken place
- The prosecution is based on ill-feeling and not upon legal rules
- The prosecution is motivated by malicious intent on the part of the prosecuting party
- There is no demonstrable public interest in the prosecution being pursued
- Having reviewed what evidence is available, even if there is a public interest, there is little to no prospect of a conviction being handed down in court
It is only with the services of a skilled advocate who has expertise in court procedures and legal arguments that you can defend yourself against these types of prosecution. By choosing Direct Barristers to help you through the process you will not only get a first class service from start to finish but you will get value for money by taking the direct access route.