Private Prosecutions are becoming more popular as people feel let down by the Criminal Justice System and/or the police.
One difficulty that people face with taking out a Private Prosecution is the costs. Legal Aid is not available for Private Prosecutions and they can be expensive. You can read our guide to How Much Does a Private Prosecution Cost?
We want to make sure that you get justice and will work with you if being able to pay full costs is an issue.
This post explores three potential avenues you may wish to explore when considering funding a Private Prosecution.
Third Party Funding
Funding is sometimes available from organisations that operate similar to an insurance company. They will assess the strength of the case and liaise with your Private Prosecution solicitors to see whether it is the sort of case that they are willing to fund. Of course they are in business to make a profit so you will need to eventually pay this money back. This can be out of any compensation you receive or after the court have refunded your costs. There are a number of factors to take into account here.
Firstly, Private Prosecutions should not been seen as a way to recover money. You may receive compensation but it is not a carefully calculated figure, it is very much a quick assessment by the court. The principle purpose of a Private Prosecution is the same as any prosecution, that is to say to get justice and see the person who has wronged you convicted of a criminal offence. The court may order compensation as a side issue but it is not their main concern. You also have to take into account the defendant’s ability to pay. The court often order that costs, fines and compensation are ordered to be paid at a weekly rate. Compensation does take precedence over costs and a fine but it will take a long time to recover compensation if at all.
Secondly you will be required to repay more to the funder than you ‘borrowed’. They are in business to make a profit and there will be interest added.
Thirdly if you are planning to repay from the costs recovered from the court you have to be aware that there is a possibility that you will not recover any costs or that the costs awarded will be less than the actual figure leaving a shortfall to pay. You would be responsible for that shortfall.
Legal Expenses Cover
This is the best option because you will not have to repay any amount.
You may be eligible for legal expenses cover under your household insurance.
Not all insurers cover Private Prosecutions under legal expenses and you will have to make the enquiry with the insurance company. If they are prepared to provide cover then we can work with them in most situations.
You are entitled to appoint a solicitor of your choice and you do not have to have the insurance company’s in-house lawyer, who rarely if ever has experience of Private Prosecutions.
You can insist on having a specialist Private Prosecution Solicitor.
Reducing the Costs of a Private Prosecution
If you are unable to fund a full Private Prosecution to trial and are unable to obtain any third party assistance we may still be able to help.
In cases like this we would prepare the case fully, take statements and gather evidence. We would then apply to the court to issue a summons against the defendant. Once this is done we will then contact the CPS and ask them to take over the case.
This means that the case continues to court as normal but you will not have to continue to pay legal fees because it will now be run by the CPS. This can be a very cost effective way of running a case because often the biggest part of the legal costs is the trial.
You must bear in mind, however, that there is no guarantee that the CPS will take over the case and you may be left in a position of trying to fund it to trial. You must also be aware that once the CPS take over the case, they will review it and can decide to simply discontinue the case. Obviously we want to avoid that so would do everything we can to encourage the CPS to take over the case and run it to trial.
If you want to take out a Private Prosecution but funding may be an issue feel free to call us for an initial discussion regarding your case.
Call us on 01623 397200 for an initial assessment of your case.