Challenging private prosecutions
Produced in partnership with Michelle Sloane of RPC
Challenging private prosecutions

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Michelle Sloane of RPC provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Challenging private prosecutions
  • Routes to defending private prosecutions
  • Challenging a private prosecution before the summons or warrant is issued in the magistrates' court
  • Challenging a summons after issue
  • Making an application to withdraw the summons in the magistrates’ court
  • Application to dismiss the summons
  • Abuse of process
  • The legal basis for an abuse of process application in the context of private prosecutions
  • First limb—the impossibility of a fair trial
  • Second limb—protecting the integrity of the justice system
  • More...

This Practice Note explains the key themes and practical considerations to challenging private prosecutions. It should be read in conjunction with Practice Note: Bringing a private prosecution—practical considerations, which provides a practical guide to bringing a private prosecution, as well as other content in the Private prosecutions subtopic.

Routes to defending private prosecutions

The right to bring a private prosecution is an important one in law, and many such prosecutions will be properly brought and managed by the prosecution. However, if this is not the case, the defence has various options available to it to challenge the prosecution. Many of the options will be similar to those available in public prosecutions, however, there are some elements specific to private prosecutions.

The defence can challenge a private prosecution at various stages of the proceedings and in various ways including:

  1. in the magistrates’ court, eg by challenging the summons (see further below: Challenging a private prosecution before the summons or warrant is issued in the magistrates' court and Challenging a summons after issue)

  2. in the magistrates’ court or the Crown Court by challenging the proceedings as an abuse of process (see further below: Abuse of process)

  3. in the High Court, by judicial review proceedings generally (see further below: Judicial review of the decision to issue a summons in a private prosecution), and

  4. at any stage by encouraging the takeover

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