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Private prosecutions


Not all criminal cases are prosecuted by the police, only those that they feel have a likelihood of success and that are in the public interest.

Fortunately, there is an alternative route to securing justice… private prosecution.

What is private prosecution?

Private prosecution is defined as any prosecution commenced by an individual who is not directly acting on behalf of any prosecuting body, including the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Any individual can begin a private prosecution against any other person or entity, though it will be conducted by their advocate or solicitor, who will have to ensure that satisfies certain requirements (that is, that it is not a vexatious prosecution, without evidence to support it).

How to bring a private criminal prosecution

A private prosecution begins with the laying of an information before a magistrate by the private prosecutor. This document is a written summary of the case in question, setting out the alleged offences and citing relevant legislation that relates to the offence, as well as the prosecution’s case.

Assuming that the information has been laid correctly, the magistrate will issue a warrant or summons against the defendant. In making this decision, the magistrate will be expected to confirm that the alleged offence is known under the law, that it has not fallen outside the statute of limitations (i.e. that is is not out of time), that the court has necessary jurisdiction to consider the case, and that the person laying the information has sufficient authority to prosecute the matter.

How much does a private prosecution cost?

The cost of a private prosecution depends on the size and complexity, but your private prosecution solicitor should give you an educated estimate of the cost at each stage of the proceedings. You are able to recover your costs from the court, whether you win or lose. These costs will be assessed and if the court believe they are reasonable you will be refunded the costs regardless of the outcome. If appropriate you can also recover compensation from the defendant in cases such as assault or fraud.

Forrest Williams Legal are experienced private prosecution solicitors. If you need help bringing a private prosecution, anywhere in the UK, get in touch with us today.

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