• GL
Choose your location?
  • Global Global
  • Australia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Spain
  • UAE
  • UK

Private Prosecutions

Small banner regulatory

Did you know that any victim of a crime can bring a private prosecution? Yes, any individual or company can bring its own prosecution. It is protected by law.

How we can help

Understanding your legal commercial needs

In recent years, more and more individuals and companies are pursuing this course of action. This is due in part to resource constraints experienced by the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

We can help

If you are considering a private prosecution then our Private Prosecution Team at DWF can help. If you have exhausted all other resources available we can help you bring a matter to court.

How does a private prosecution work?

Firstly, we will consider and review any and all available evidence you hold and assess the relative strengths/weaknesses of your case. On the basis the evidence passes the CPS code of conduct as set out below we will then prepare your case and lay the information at the Magistrates Court.

The Process

There are 2 limbs which form the CPS Code:

  1. Is there enough evidence against the Defendant to provide a realistic prospect of conviction; and
  2. Is it in the public interest to bring the case to Court.

The Court will then consider:

  • whether the offence is known to law
  • whether the elements of the offence are met
  • whether it is in time and
  • whether the allegation is vexatious

On the basis the case satisfies the above criteria, the Magistrates' Court will then issue a summons based on the information provided. This will then be served on the Defendant.

Key issues to remember

  • You must ensure that you have exercised all other methods of recourse before turning to a private prosecution.
  • It is always advisable to contact us at the earliest possible opportunity after exhausting all other options.
  • Any private prosecution which fails to satisfy the CPS code risks being taken over by the Director of Public Prosecutions ("DPP") and being discontinued
  • The DPP can take over any cases and stop if it is considered “vexatious” or “malicious”
  • The DPP will also likely take over where any private prosecution is likely to damage the interests of justice
  • A private prosecution can also be stopped if it interferes with any other case or is considered not to be in the public interest.

Types of prosecutions

Private prosecutions can be brought in relation to any alleged criminal offences, but the most common types are related to:

  • Fraud
  • Regulatory offences
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Blackmail
  • Rape and other sexual offences
  • Perverting the course of justice
  • Domestic violence
  • Driving offences

What are the benefits?

Costs – you are eligible to claim back costs incurred from Central Funds even if you lose or the case is withdrawn

Defendant costs - unlike other proceedings the general principle is that you will not have to pay the Defendant's costs if you lose your case.

Speed - unlike civil proceedings, matters can be brought to court very quickly

Control - you are in control (not a Government agency)

Expert legal resources - you have access to a better resourced, more focused and efficient team rather than any other public prosecution

Wider powers of punishment - criminal convictions carry a stigma whilst criminal courts have wider powers to punish from fines and confiscation to imprisonment.

What next?

If you have been a victim of an offence and would like to pursue a private prosecution, please fill in the form below.

Sign up for the latest trending topics and updates
Sign up to receive email updates for our news, webinars and latest thought leadership across your areas of interest.

We use cookies to give you the best user experience on our website. Please let us know if you accept our use of cookies.

Manage cookies

Your Privacy

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. We mainly use this information to ensure the site works as you expect it to, and to learn how we can improve the experience in the future. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.
Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change permissions. However, blocking some types of cookies may prevent certain site functionality from working as expected

Functional cookies


These cookies let you use the website and are required for the website to function as expected.

These cookies are required

Tracking cookies

Anonymous cookies that help us understand the performance of our website and how we can improve the website experience for our users. Some of these may be set by third parties we trust, such as Google Analytics.

They may also be used to personalise your experience on our website by remembering your preferences and settings.

Marketing cookies

These cookies are used to improve and personalise your experience with our brands. We may use these cookies to show adverts for our products, or measure the performance of our adverts.