The Private Prosecutors’ Association (PPA) is consulting on a draft code for anyone who carries out private prosecutions, which allow individuals, businesses or organisations who have been the victims of crime to bring a criminal case themselves, without the involvement of law enforcement agencies
In many cases, a private prosecution will be initiated, prepared and carried out by an external party such as an accountancy firm, law firm or private investigative firm. The code is intended to provide guidelines and answer questions for any ‘private prosecutor’ commencing a prosecution.
The PPA, which was founded in 2017 and has around 140 members including forensic accountants, said the aim of the code is to increase public confidence, protect both victims and defendants from prejudice, and facilitate proper scrutiny of the ethical issues involved to this type of prosecution.
Hannah Laming, PPA chair and partner at Peters & Peters Solicitors, said: ‘In the current climate of ongoing budgetary constraints in the public sector, we are increasingly seeing individuals and businesses expressing interest in private prosecutions as an alternative way to achieve justice.
‘The aim of the code for private prosecutors is to provide a benchmark for bringing private prosecutions and to promote best practice amongst practitioners.’
The PPA is inviting comments on the draft code from anyone with an interest in private prosecutions, including professionals operating in the legal, forensic accounting, fraud investigation and law enforcement specialisms as well as academics and other interested parties.
The consultation closes on 6 March and the final version of the code is expected to be released in mid-2019. Adherence to the code will be voluntary but membership of the PPA will be conditional upon confirmation that the member practices in accordance with its principles.
Others bringing private prosecutions, defending private prosecutions and members of the judiciary will be encouraged to refer to the code and treat it as an indication of the standards which experts in this field consider to be applicable, the PPA said.
Report by Pat Sweet