The prosecution of alleged criminals for wrongdoing is generally the domain of the Crown and its specialist agencies.

But increasing budgetary constraints on investigating and prosecution agencies mean that many miscreants can avoid being held to account in the Criminal Courts for their actions.

Why Private Prosecutions?

When State prosecutors decide they cannot or will not prosecute, the law allows private individuals to prosecute allegations of wrongdoing.

Initiating a private prosecution puts you in court as the prosecutor, adopting the mantle of the prosecution agency.

Who Can Bring A Private Prosecution?

A private prosecution can be brought by any individual or company – it is not solely an option for the police, CPS or government agency.

In the past, private prosecutions were more common among charitable or public interest bodies.

But more recently, section 6(1) has been increasingly used by individuals and commercial entities as an alternative to or alongside civil litigation.

Which offences can be privately prosecuted?

Subject to certain exceptions, private prosecutions can be brought for a wide range of offences where the CPS have not initiated criminal proceedings, including:

Private Prosecution Barristers

Private prosecutions are a specialist area of the law.

The right to prosecute, and seek punishment of offenders, brings with it the responsibility of ensuring a fair trial and the obligation to conform to all the rules applicable to any prosecuting agency. Those rules are often complex and diffuse.

At Libertas Chambers, our barristers are experienced in liaising with potential prosecuting authorities and advising how to assemble the best case for the prosecution, taking the case to court and seeking justice, even where the Crown Prosecution Service or other prosecution agencies cannot or will not act. Importantly, this includes continuing advice on the recovery of compensation and some or all of litigation costs from defendants or Central Funds.

We start by helping you assess your evidence, advising you on the right forum in which to litigate and on the merits of your case, then working with the best private prosecution solicitors to put together and finally present your case at trial, ensuring continuity of representation and consistency of approach.

Members of chambers can offer advice about the particular issues that arise in private prosecutions, including:

  • the prospects of success,
  • applying for and resisting the issue of a summons,
  • applications to the Director of Public Prosecutions to take over and stop a prosecution,
  • presenting and resisting abuse of process arguments
  • recovery of costs.

If you would like to find out more information about private prosecutions, please contact our clerks to arrange an initial consultation to discuss the merits of your case.

Instruct LibertasTo discuss your case please contact our clerks by phone on +44 (0) 20 7036 0200 or email us at