Private Criminal Prosecution Solicitors & Barristers
The Private Prosecution Service is lead by lawyers that deliver expert technical knowledge, the utmost expertise, top state prosecution contacts, strong negotiations skills and respected advice, which can make a pronounced difference in criminal or civil proceedings and subsequent tracing, compensation, confiscation, custodial penalties or enforcement.
Why Instruct the Private Prosecution Service?
The Private Prosecution Service is one of the United Kingdom’s only boutique law practices that specialises in all aspects of private prosecution and related corporate criminal investigations. Few legal firms operating in the UK have our level of expertise in this emerging area. What is more, we are the only boutique law practice specialising in private prosecution that incorporates both barristers and solicitors. Situated in the Honourable Society of Middle Temple (one of the four Inns of Court), adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice and short walk from the Old Bailey.
Private Prosecution Success
Private Prosecution Success
We have a track record of success in all aspects of private prosecution and related corporate criminal investigations. The PPS deliver expert technical knowledge, the utmost expertise, top state prosecution contacts, strong negotiations skills and respected advice
Leading London Law Firm
Leading London Law Firm
We are the only expert law practice specialising in private prosecution that incorporates both solicitors and barristers. Few legal firms operating in the UK have our level of expertise in Private Prosecution advice and strategy.
Highly Qualified Solicitors & Barristers
Highly Qualified Solicitors & Barristers
Our Criminal Private Prosecution team comprises fully qualified, practising private prosecution solicitors & barristers with years of experience at the very highest levels of criminal law.
Our areas of Expertise
Expert advice and practice in deducing the quality of available evidence and bringing private prosecutions for fraud where the CPS or Serious Fraud Office (SFO) have not acted.Find out more
Regularly advice corporate clients that have not been assisted by the CPS or council Trading Standards Departement. We will protect your brand and your copyright by privately prosecuting counterfeiters.Find out more
We regularly deal with complex, large and difficult confiscation proceedings in the criminal courts under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Criminal Finances Act 2017, Anti Money Laundering legisaltion and the previous statutory regimes.Find out more
Perverting the Course of Justice & Perjury
Perjury and perverting the course of justice are issues that we have experience with. For example, lying on oath; false allegations; dishonesty and false adverse possession claims.Find out more
We are experts in working alongside top investigators to gather admissible evidence for a successful prosecution. Our team have experience in assisting victims of: false adverse possession claims; sexual assault; harassment; blackmail; criminal damage.
Our Key Expert Prosecutors
M. ALI AKRAM
Formerly employed by leading City law firm SJ Berwin LLP [subsequently King & Wood Mallesons LLP]; with secondments to the legal departments of Goldman Sachs and ING Barings. During that time Ali advised on issues such as Fraud, Money Launering, Insider Dealing and Regulatory Complaince.
He is a frequent media commentator on legal issues and is regularly featured on the BBC’s Panorama; ITV and other leading news publications.
Zaheera has represented clients in relation to offences ranging from Murder, Sexual offences, Drugs offences, Road Traffic, Robberies and Burglaries.
She has an in depth knowledge of the law and prides herself on her attention to detail and pragmatism. She is able to use her own initiative and problem solving skills effectively when preparing a case. Her positive and pro-active approach allows her to deal with a diverse range of people and complex matters.
Rizwan has earned a reputation as one of the country’s leading and most sought after barristers. Having spent time on secondment at the Crown Prosecution Service, and also having prosecuted on behalf of various organisations including the Royal Mail, Rizwan has significant experience in serious criminal proceedings.
Amongst other things, he has conducted trials for offences ranging from Murder; Conspiracy to Import Class A Drugs; Money Laundering; Fraud; Trading Standards Offences; Sexual Offences and Organsied Crime.
He also extensive knowledge of restraint orders and search warrants.
Jaron works in Middle Temple Chambers with our leading City of London solicitors, barristers and QCs. Having excelled academically, in particular he conducts high quality legal research to ensure prosecutions and our client’s cases are as strong as they can be in and out of Court. He has top experience with the Courts, clients and witnesses in a variety of private prosecutions.
Christopher is one of a small number of barristers to have obtained a certificate of honour from the Middle Temple in recognition of excellent academic achievement. He is a reputable and highly experienced chancery barrister who is ideally suited for complex High Court litigation. We have instructed Christopher throughout his career at the independent bar and consider him to be a first-class counsel choice.
We enjoy a close working relationship with Christopher and are able to obtain urgent professional advice and representation for our privately funded clients at the outset of a dispute, when it often matters the most.
Frequently Asked Questions
Private prosecutions are prosecutions for a criminal offence initiated by a private citizen or entity which is not acting on behalf of the police or any prosecuting authority. A private prosecution is essentially the same as a standard criminal trial but one which is not brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Traditionally, private prosecution actions were almost solely used by charitable or public interest bodies such as the RSPCA. Commercial organisations regularly undertake private prosecutions. This is undertaken by trade organisations such as FACT (Federation against Copyright Theft) and BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) but also ordinary commercial companies. Recently, section 6(1) has been increasingly used by individuals and commercial entities as an alternative to or alongside civil litigation.
The right to bring a private prosecution is enshrined in statute section 6(1) POA 1985:
“6 Prosecutions instituted and conducted otherwise than by the Service.
(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, nothing in this Part shall preclude any person from instituting any criminal proceedings or conducting any criminal proceedings to which the Director’s duty to take over the conduct of proceedings does not apply.
(2) Where criminal proceedings are instituted in circumstances in which the Director is not under a duty to take over their conduct, he may nevertheless do so at any stage.”
Pursuant to section 6(1) POA 1985, “any person” has the right to bring a private prosecution. However, this right is subject to three limitations:
- All magistrates can exercise judicial discretion to refuse to issue the requisite warrant or summons;
- The DPP have the right under section 6(2) POA 1985 to take over or stop a private prosecution at any stage (see below); and
- The right to prosecute certain offences is restricted by legislation or policy.
Subject to certain exceptions, private prosecutions can be brought for a wide range of offences where the CPS have not initiated criminal proceedings, including:
- Fraud: in circumstances where the CPS or SFO have made a decision not to prosecute. Private prosecutions have been brought for counterfeiting; protect commercial rights; contractual fraud; false representation; professional who have abused their position through money laundering, dishonesty and/or theft; insurance fraud; fraud internal within a company.
- Property disputes: false adverse possession claims
- Assault: sexual assault; domestic violence; racially aggravated assault and violent assaults falling under section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988 or s.47 Offences Against the Person Act
- Sexual offences: victims of date rape and non-consensual sexual offences.
- Harassment: victims accusing another of stalking
- Perverting the course of justice
- Manslaughter/murder: the Stephen Lawrence case is an example of this.
Yes. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The DPP has the power, under section 6(2) POA 1985, to take over private prosecutions proceedings. There have been instances where the DPP exercises the power under section 6(2) POA 1985 to either continue or discontinue prosecutions.
The CPS advise that they will take over and continue a prosecution if the case papers show:
- the evidential sufficiency stage of the Full Code Test is met; and
- the public interest stage of the Full Code Test is met; and
- there is a particular need for the CPS to take over the prosecution.
The CPS advise that a private prosecution should be stopped if after reviewing the case papers either the evidential sufficiency or the public interest stage of the Full Code test is not met. Examples of when the CPS will stop a private prosecution include:
- the prosecution interferes with the investigation or prosecution of another criminal offence or charge;
- the prosecution is vexatious (within the meaning of section 42 Supreme Court Act 1981, as amended by section 24 Prosecution of Offences Act 1985);
- the prosecution is malicious (the DPP is satisfied that the prosecution is being undertaken on malicious grounds);
- the prosecuting authorities (the police, the CPS or any other public prosecutor) have promised the defendant immunity from prosecution (Turner v DPP (1979) 68 Cr App R 70). This does not include cases where the prosecuting authorities have merely informed the defendant that they will not be bringing or continuing proceedings;
- the defendant has already been given either a simple caution or a conditional caution for the offence (which remains in being).
Why should I bring a Private Prosecution?
To get justice for criminal offences committed against them that have not been taken on by the police or CPS. The media have reported that private prosecutions are on the increase due to police and CPS budget cuts which has limited the ability of the enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute crime effectively. These cuts have created a trend amongst individuals to fund their own criminal actions due to a failure of the police to investigate or the CPS’s unwillingness to press ahead to trial.
If a certain offence is not the priority of the CPS, then private prosecutions are a necessary tool allowing a victim to take control of proceedings and actively pursue a conviction against the accused.
Some individuals feel that civil proceedings may be prohibitively slow and a private prosecution would offer a speedier resolution. In addition, the civil damages awarded may not adequately compensate for the harm suffered whereas private prosecutions have the availability of tougher penalties which includes unlimited fines and imprisonment.
Many corporate entities have launched private prosecutions to protect their intellectual property, rather than leave their rights to be protected by public law enforcement agencies.
Victims of crimes consider starting a private prosecution for a number of reasons, for example:
- to deter future criminal conduct by the suspect;
- to send a clear message to potential fraudsters that a company that has been defrauded will take strong action;
- as a necessary tool when the public prosecution authorities are unwilling to act;
- potential compensation for the victim.
- to establish a precedent for future conduct;
- to protect society; and
- a private prosecutor can access specialist expertise which many public prosecuting authorities cannot utilise, which can increase the chances of prosecution.
Private prosecution has the advantage of being the more economic route to seek financial redress and justice. Private prosecution is usually cheaper and faster than commencing civil proceedings.
Yes. Private prosecutions brought in conjunction with civil proceedings can be a useful tool for Claimants. A criminal conviction can be relied upon in related civil litigation, which increases the chances of success in civil proceedings. A private prosecution can be useful in the disclosure stage of civil litigation as it could lead to the earlier disclosure of important documents.
Private prosecutions are a valuable tool which can be used to pressure an opponent to settle on-going civil proceedings. However, although parallel civil litigation is not a bar to a successful private prosecution, caution must be exercised. Criminal proceedings could be stayed as an abuse of process if the Court is under the impression that the private prosecution is solely deployed as leverage to reach a settlement in civil proceedings.
However, although there are advantages to bringing a private prosecution in conjunction with civil litigation, this right is not unlimited. In R (Virgin Media Ltd) v Zinga the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales indicated that as a deterrent to improper private prosecutions, a Court may take steps to limit the costs recoverable by a private prosecutor from state funds. Moreover, there can be delays in securing a hearing date and unlike in civil proceedings, a Court cannot award costs against a defendant for deliberate delay.
A private prosecution has advantages over a public prosecution:
- Individuals can bring a prosecution where the prosecuting authorities are unwilling. For example, where the CPS have a lack of resources or specialist expertise (e.g. a lack of specialist fraud officers). This point was noted by Lord Thomas CJ in R v Zinga  EWCA Crim 52:
“At a time when the retrenchment of the state is evident in many areas, including the funding of the Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Fraud Office, it seems inevitable that the number of private prosecutions will increase.”
R v Zinga  EWCA Crim 52 (Lord Thomas CJ)
- A person can exercise greater control over the investigative procedure and subsequent prosecution. For instance, more resources or highly specialist investigators and lawyers can be employed which are not ordinarily provided for in a public prosecution. The private prosecutor can control the investigation rather than rely on the CPS or police.
- They offer a way to overcome issues that have precluded a person from making a civil claim. There are no limitation periods in criminal proceedings, unlike for civil proceedings. In addition, it may be easier to establish jurisdiction in the UK for a criminal matter instead of a civil case.
- Criminal trials can generally be brought faster court than civil proceedings as there are not as many pre-trial hearings.
- Criminal proceedings can be cheaper than the civil route alternative.
- Unlike with civil proceedings, a private prosecutor does not have to provide a security for costs to the defendant. If your case fails and the defendant is not prosecuted, you will generally not have to pay the successful party’s costs.
- Under s.18 Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, you can apply to the court to award costs against the defendant which have been incurred in the whole proceedings.
- In certain cases, a private prosecutor can apply for legal costs and the costs of an investigation from state funds
- A private prosecutor can apply for a Restraint Order, which freezes the defendants’ pre-charge assets.
- If a defendant is found to be guilty, a private prosecutor can apply for a Compensation Order under sections 130-133 Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 or a Confiscation Order. Both a Compensation Order and a Confiscation Order can be enforced by a Court. If the defendant refuses to pay, then these Orders can be enforced which may ensure that the defendant gets sent to prison.
- Private prosecutions are a useful tool against economic crimes that have not been prioritised by the police or CPS.
- They act as a robust deterrent due to the sanctions that a Criminal Court can impose: criminal record, custodial sentence, Confiscation Order and can affect an individual’s right to be a director of a company.