Q&As

How can a defendant challenge the magistrates’ court decision to issue a summons which had been applied for by a private prosecutor?

read titleRead full title
Published on LexisPSL on 18/07/2019

The following Corporate Crime Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • How can a defendant challenge the magistrates’ court decision to issue a summons which had been applied for by a private prosecutor?
  • Abuse of process
  • Judicial review of the decision to issue a summons in a private prosecution
  • CPS taking over and discontinuing proceedings
  • Applying to dismiss the summons

When faced with a summons issued by the magistrates’ court following an application by a private prosecutor, various options are available to the defendant, including:

  1. making an abuse of process argument

  2. judicially reviewing the magistrates’ court decision to issue the summons and obtaining an order quashing the summons in the High Court

  3. convincing the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to take over and discontinue the proceedings, or

  4. applying to dismiss the summons

Abuse of process

The magistrates’ court can stay a prosecution on the grounds of abuse of process, but the parameters of this power are set quite narrowly; it must not be used to exercise a disciplinary function over the prosecution, for example. See Commentary: General principles and magistrates’ courts’ jurisdiction: Stone's Justices' Manual 2019 [1.196].

The inherent jurisdiction to stop a prosecution (to prevent an abuse of process) can only be exercised in exceptional circumstances.

In R (on the application of Kay) v Leeds Magistrates' Court, where the private prosecutor had failed to comply with his duty of candour and the district judge had decided not to stay the proceedings as an abuse of process (having found that the appropriate venue for the determination of that issue was the Crown Court), the High Court quashed that decision and the summons. The

Popular documents