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Private prosecutions law

Government cuts to legal aid, police budgets and renewed economic pressures on the court system have caused a surge in private prosecutions in the UK. Increasingly, both corporates and individuals have turned to private prosecutions, particularly in cases of fraud, to seek justice where the police or other criminal enforcement agencies have decided to take no further action.

A private prosecutor must be prepared to conduct a thorough and targeted criminal investigation, without police powers to compel production of documents or witness accounts. Few legal teams have the depth and breadth of Eversheds’ investigative capability. We approach and conduct investigations with a deep understanding of criminal procedure and rules of evidence, avoiding many of the pitfalls experienced by civil or criminal defence lawyers.

Our team is made up of former prosecutors, regulators and investigators with considerable prosecution and enforcement experience. Because we investigate using the same guidelines and codes applicable to police investigators, our investigations are commonly used in support of submissions to police or other law enforcement bodies to take over and proceed with the prosecution or commence their own proceedings.

Underpinned by a strong corporate crime and investigations team, our highly experienced team is uniquely placed to guide you through the complexities of launching or defending a case and navigating the criminal justice system, ultimately seeking and obtaining a swifter, surer access to justice.

Private prosecutions law expertise

The reasons our Private Prosecutions team is so well regarded include:

  • Leading expertise – we have experience in advising on both launching and defending private prosecutions. This is underpinned by the breadth of our team’s criminal, civil and regulatory expertise. We understand the overlap between these areas and the necessity of having skilled practitioners who understand all aspects of corporate crime and private prosecution procedure.
  • Experienced team – our team is made up of experienced prosecutors, criminal defence practitioners, civil fraud specialists and former regulators and investigators. This places us in a unique position to be able to advise both on the procedure for launching a private prosecution and the underlying criminal offence which is being prosecuted.
  • Multi-jurisdictional approach – ranked in the top tier in legal directories, we have specialists from our offices in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East with expert local knowledge of the civil, criminal and regulatory frameworks. This provides a formidable resource for our clients requiring assistance in launching a private prosecution where there are concurrent criminal, civil and regulatory issues across multiple jurisdictions.
  • Better connected – we have developed close relationships with key individuals in law enforcement, prosecuting agencies and regulators. This is an invaluable resource to any party who is seeking to launch a private prosecution.

Private prosecutions law experience

Our recent private prosecutions experience includes:

  • launching a private prosecution against individuals and corporations of a US$290 million fraud involving money flows between CIS countries, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands
  • advising law firm partners accused of fraud by a vexatious litigant on means of defeating a private prosecution
  • assisting the retail energy industry to bring private prosecutions against defendants for electricity theft where police inaction had led to the offence going unpunished
  • conducting the criminal investigation and prosecution of fraudulent vendors exploiting loopholes in a global online trading platform. Cross-border investigation, prosecutions and asset recovery
  • conducting a full criminal investigation of a corrupt conspiracy between executives and contractors on behalf of a US fast-food chain, culminating in a police investigation and prosecution, as well as asset restraint and civil recovery
  • advising the defendant to a private prosecution in a foreign jurisdiction on the procedures and mechanisms for defeating both the prosecution and International Assistance request, together with civil recovery of his own losses on a disputed contract
  • conducting all statutory private prosecutions for a water utility against defendants with illegal connections or breaching effluent regulations. Training internal investigations teams on criminal evidence collection and statement taking