Private Prosecutions

Did you know that any victim of a crime can bring a private prosecution? Yes, any individual or company can bring its own prosecution. It is protected by law.

"A private prosecution is a prosecution started by a private individual, or entity who/which is not acting on behalf of the police or other prosecuting authority."
Source: Crown Prosecution Service

In recent years more and more individuals and companies are pursuing this course of action. This is due in part to resource constraints experienced by the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

We can help
If you are considering a private prosecution then our private prosecution team at DWF can help. We can help you take a matter to court without the help of the police or CPS.

How does a private prosecution work?
Your case must first of all be approved by the Magistrates court. To prepare for this step we will help you formulate your case information. Your case information is then presented to the Magistrates court to consider. The court then makes a decision on the information provided.

If your case is approved the Magistrates court will then issue a summons. The summons is served to the defendant, along with a court date on which they must attend.

How to prepare your case information
When preparing your case information, we follow court guidance which states that the information must describe the offence in ordinary language, state the legislation that creates the offence and contains sufficient particulars of the conduct to ensure the allegation against the defendant is made out clearly.

If we believe that your case has insufficient evidence available, we then enlist the support our dwf resource experts. Working on a consultancy basis, our resource investigators will help us obtain the further evidence needed.

Here is more information on process:

The CPS code:

  1. is there enough evidence against the defendant – reliable and credible evidence, enough to provide a “realistic prospect of conviction”
  2. is it in the public interest for the CPS to bring the case to court – bring a prosecution unless the public interest factors tending against the prosecution outweigh those tending in favour of a prosecution

The court will then consider:

  1. whether offence known to law, 
  2. whether the ingredients of the offence are met, 
  3. whether it's in time and 
  4. whether the allegations is vexatious.

Key issues to remember

  • You must ensure that you have exercised all other methods of recourse before turning to a private prosecution
  • Any private prosecution which fails to satisfy the CPS code risks being taken over by the Director of Public Prosecutions ("DPP") and discontinued
  • The DPP can takeover any cases and stop if it is considered “vexatious” or “malicious”
  • The DPP will also likely to take over where any Private Prosecution is likely to damage the interests of justice
  • A private prosecution can also be stopped if it interferes with any other case or is considered not to be in the public interest

Types of prosecutions
Private prosecutions can be brought in relation to any alleged criminal offences, but the most common types are related to:

  • Fraud
  • False adverse possession claims
  • Regulatory offences
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Blackmail
  • Rape and other sexual offences
  • Perverting the course of justice
  • Road rage and domestic violence

What are the benefits?

Costs – you're able to claim back cost from the court even if you lose or withdraw the proceeding.

Defendant costs - unlike other proceedings, generally you will not have to pay the defendant cost if you lose your case

Speed - unlike civil proceedings, matters can be brought to court very quickly

Control - you are in control not a government agency

Expert legal resources - you have access to a better resourced, more focused and efficient team rather than any other public prosecution

Wider powers of punishment - criminal convictions carry a stigma whilst criminal courts have wider powers to punish from fines and confiscation to imprisonment.

What next…
If you have been a victim of an offence and would like to pursue a private prosecution call Jeremy Bird now on +44 (0)161 604 1883 or email

Jeremy Bird

Senior Solicitor

I am a Senior Solicitor in the Regulatory, Compliance and Investigations team. I represent both companies and individuals in relation to investigations and prosecutions brought by regulatory bodies.