Anyone is able to bring a private prosecution, and this right has been upheld by the courts as an important constitutional safeguard. Private prosecutions may be appropriate in cases where state prosecuting authorities are unwilling or unable to assist, or where civil proceedings may not deal with the problem in question. Private prosecutions can offer significant costs protection for the prosecutor, even where the defendant is acquitted, with costs in some case being available from the Treasury.
The deterrent effect of convictions is substantial. Serious infringements routinely result in prison sentences. Convictions remain on offenders' records and are taken into account in the event of further offences. Offenders will frequently face confiscation proceedings on conviction, and may be liable to further periods of imprisonment if they fail to satisfy a confiscation order. Private prosecutors retain significant control over the proceedings rather than being reliant on the prosecuting authority. In some cases, private prosecutions may be concluded far more quickly than civil proceedings, since it is common for defendants to plead guilty at an early stage.
Our criminal prosecutions team works across a number of the firm's departments (principally the Public & Regulatory, Intellectual Property, and Dispute Resolution groups) and has a wealth of experience in advising on and conducting investigations and criminal prosecutions for a range of public bodies and private organisations. Members of our team have acted for and advised bodies such as statutory regulators, copyright owners, commercial organisations and individuals in criminal matters. Additionally, a number of our lawyers qualified and practised at the criminal bar, and have a corresponding depth of experience in all types of criminal proceedings. Since the team is made up of lawyers from across the firm, we are able to advise on prosecutions as one of a range of potential options in protecting and enforcing your rights.
We have an enviable track record of obtaining excellent results for our clients. Highlights of work undertaken by members of our team include:
- Public bodies:
- Conducting a large number of successful prosecutions for statutory regulators against unlicensed individuals and in relation to illegal cosmetic procedures;
- Undertaking fraud investigations for public health authorities.
- Intellectual property:
- Investigating and prosecuting individuals for criminal breaches of intellectual property law;
- Advising clients in relation to Trading Standards and other investigations concerning the misuse of their IP;
- Advising on and assisting police with the execution of search warrants as part of private criminal investigations into copyright and trade mark offences;
- A long-standing domestic and international anti-counterfeiting practice, which covers online infringement as well as traditional marketplaces.
- Conducting the first private prosecution under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008;
- Advising a number of blue chip commercial organisations in relation to potential fraud prosecutions;
- Advising commercial organisations and individuals in connection with tax fraud investigations by HMRC;
- Advising commercial organisations on bribery and corruption investigations by police;
- Attending raids of commercials clients' premises.