You may have reported to the police that you are a victim of fraud and submitted a report online to Action Fraud. You may be frustrated and confused by the lack of a state investigation and/or prosecution in circumstances where it appears clear that a fraudster has escaped justice with little effort. Budget cuts to the police and CPS in recent times has forced the investigation and prosecution of fraud to a lower priority status as dedicated state resources hit an all-time low and reports of fraud continue to rise. Private prosecution remains an option available to victims of fraud, and crime more generally, who have been unable to obtain justice through traditional law enforcement channels.
Here are a few reasons our clients often choose to bring criminal prosecutions:
- If your company has budgetary constraints but a large fraud or counterfeit problem, prosecutions are typically cheaper and quicker than civil litigation.
- Prosecutions are a good deterrent due to the powers and sanctions of the criminal court – including confiscation, the risk of a custodial sentence and a criminal record. A conviction can also affect an individual’s ability to act as a company director and to win contracts in the EU with government agencies.
- It is possible to apply for prosecution costs from central government funds. This may mean that criminal litigation might make commercial sense.
- When a defendant has been convicted of a criminal offence and benefited financially from their crime, it is possible to ask the court to make a confiscation order in addition to a compensation order. Where a company has suffered financially as a result of the crime, it is possible for the company to be compensated for this loss.
- Private prosecutions are often used to tackle economic or large-scale crime that has not been understood or prioritised by traditional law enforcement agencies.
- Fraud prosecutions can be used in a broad array of situations – for example, a false representation made dishonestly by an individual or company, in order to cause a loss to someone or gain a financial advantage, is prosecutable.
- With a private prosecution, the client controls the speed of the investigation and prosecution, rather than relying on the police or CPS.
- Prosecution results can be publicised very easily and are easy to understand.
Your company may be more familiar with using civil courts to resolve trademark infringements or large-scale fraud matters. However, criminal litigation may be an alternative to civil litigation or could effectively run in conjunction with civil litigation. We will always advise you honestly on what the most effective litigation route would be for your case.
In certain circumstances, it is possible to bring both criminal and civil litigation, please contact us to discuss further.