Abuse of process procedure
Abuse of process procedure

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Abuse of process procedure
  • Abuse application in the magistrates’ court
  • Application for judicial review of magistrates' decision
  • Appeals to the Crown Court
  • Appeals from the Crown Court
  • Abuse application in the Crown Court
  • Delay

Abuse of process procedure

For an explanation of when abuse of process applications may arise in criminal proceedings, see Practice Note: Abuse of process in criminal proceedings.

The application procedure for making an abuse argument is governed by the Criminal Procedure Rules 2020, SI 2020/759 (CrimPR) and directions in support of these rules are provided in the Criminal Practice Directions (CPD) at CPD I General matters 3C: Abuse of process applications. The burden of proof is on the applicant, on the balance of probabilities, to show that there has been some impropriety in the decision to prosecute or the manner in which the prosecution has been proceeded which means that either a fair trial is no longer possible or it is no longer fair to try the accused.

Evidence can be called by both the defence and prosecution. The prosecution is under an obligation to disclose relevant unused material. The judge will make a determination on this evidence.

Abuse of process arguments can be raised in the magistrates’ court. In Horseferry Road Magistrates’ Court Ex parte Bennett, the House of Lords ruled that the magistrates’ jurisdiction to protect the court from abuse is restricted to matters affecting the trial of the accused, such as delay or manipulation of the court procedure. Any challenge of a ruling following an abuse argument in the magistrates’ court would

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