5SAH has 4 silks and more than 45 barristers specialising in public and private criminal prosecution work. The team are ranked in Chambers and Partners and have leading individuals ranked in The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners.
5SAH are market leaders in both bringing and defending private prosecutions, and have been at the forefront of this expanding area of law for a number of years. Our private prosecution specialists have acted in some of the leading cases, including:
- R (Lowden) v Gateshead MC  4 WLR 43
- D Limited v A  EWCA Crim 1172.
These cases illustrate the wide variety of private prosecution work that we cover, from an assault on a hotel night manager to a multi-million-pound fraud on an employer.
We offer a team of experts, from highly experienced Queen’s Counsel to more recently qualified juniors, who can talk you through each stage of the process whether you wish to bring a prosecution or you are defending one. We understand the reputational and financial risks involved in these cases, and tailor our advice and advocacy to suit each client giving you a truly bespoke service from a team of specialists. We work with the leading law firms practising within this area. And we support the work of the Private Prosecutors’ Association (PPA).
What is a Private Prosecution?
Most criminal prosecutions are brought by the state (eg by the CPS, the SFO etc). A private prosecution is a criminal case which is brought by an individual, a business or an organisation which considers itself to have been the victim of a crime. It can be a vital remedy when, for whatever reason, criminal proceedings have not been brought by the usual prosecution authorities. In recent years there has been a rise in the number of private prosecutions before the UK courts and we expect this to continue, particularly in view of the funding constraints currently facing the CPS, the Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies. Private prosecutions can be brought for most offences, including offences against the person and sexual offences, as well as for fraud or theft.
It may not always be widely known, but many organisations including hotel chains, shops, insurance companies, London Transport and charities bring private prosecutions to protect their staff or their assets.
How do I bring a Private Prosecution?
5SAH’s Private Prosecution barristers can assist you from the outset of your case and will examine every aspect involved, including:
- Advising on the merits of bringing a prosecution at all.
- Advising on what is required, and the level of commitment that will be required.
- Ensuring compliance with the Code for Private Prosecutors.
- The obtaining of evidence (including expert reports) and managing the investigation.
- Laying an information and the necessary steps to ask the Magistrates Court to issue a summons or even (in appropriate cases) a warrant for the arrest of an intended defendant.
- Managing the prosecutor’s disclosure obligations, including issues with legal privilege.
- Costs and other possible financial outcomes/remedies.
- Restraint and Confiscation, together with compensation.
- Using a private prosecution in an international forum.
What do I do if I am a defendant in a Private Prosecution case?
Defending a private prosecution can be very different to defending a case brought by the state. For example, sometimes the private prosecutor has a ‘motive’ for bringing the case which would not feature in a case brought by the CPS etc. We can take you through each stage of the preparation and conduct of your defence, including:
- Corresponding with the prosecutor to establish their motives/reasons for bringing the case, and seeking possible grounds for compromise that might avoid a prosecution at all.
- Identifying potential defence witnesses and other sources of relevant material, and obtaining witness statements, expert reports and documents so as to ensure the most robust defence possible.
- Drafting the Defence Statement and managing the prosecutor’s disclosure obligations to ensure the maximum disclosure of relevant material.
- Advising on strategy concerning the conduct of the case (eg whether to make arguments concerning abuse of process or dismissal) so as to maximise the prospects of a successful outcome for the client.
- Advising and pursuing the options for costs to be awarded in your favour if you are acquitted
- Providing expert trial advocacy tailored to the case concerned, whether in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court.
- Above all, to ensure that all the fair trial procedures are observed so that you can have a fair trial notwithstanding the involvement of a private prosecutor.
5SAH prosecution barristers are acknowledged experts in the field. Our team are regularly instructed in private prosecutions and have appeared in many of the leading and ground-breaking cases in this area. We have specialist knowledge and practitioners leading the field of private prosecutions:
- 5SAH produced the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) response to the Justice Committee inquiry into the fairness of private prosecutions.
- Mark Cotter QC and Edmund Burge QC have produced the Lexis Nexis PSL Practice Note on: Disclosure, confidentiality, and privilege issues for private prosecutors.
- Andrew Bird is one of only 7 juniors ranked in the new practice area listed in Chambers & Partners in Financial Crime – Private Prosecutions.
- Along with our market-leading experience, we recently hosted a specialist private prosecution seminar for solicitors and practitioners in the field. We have held bespoke zoom webinars (during lockdown) for various firms of solicitors on practical tips for private prosecutions in the current marketplace. Download our Private Prosecution Booklet here.
We write the leading articles on the topic, including:
- Private prosecutor bringing High Court enforcement proceedings can claim costs from central funds: Mirchandani v Chancellor  EWCA Civ 1260 by Mark Cotter QC and Sarah Wood.
- New Role for Private Prosecutions in the Wake of Covid 19: Counsel Magazine, Kevin Dent QC.
- The importance of motive: Sarah Wood examines the ruling of the Divisional Court in the unsuccessful private prosecution brought against Boris Johnson.
- Kevin Dent QC provides expert analysis for LexisNexis on the new Private Prosecutor's Code.
Make an inquiry with our team of clerks here.
5SAH has a long-standing reputation and specialism in prosecution work. 5SAH prosecution barristers are instructed in the most serious, complex and cutting-edge cases. They are highly skilled at witness handling with expertise in cases involving vulnerable witnesses.
'A well-regarded set equipped to handle all criminal cases..'
'They regularly undertake substantial matters including murder, human trafficking and corporate fraud cases. Recent matters of note include R v Porter, a prosecution case involving multiple counts of making and distributing indecent images of children.'
Chambers and Partners 2021 & 2020
Members are instructed on behalf of all the main prosecuting authorities, including: Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), National Crime Agency (NCA), CPS Complex Casework Unit, CPS Serious Fraud Division, CPS Proceeds of Crime Unit, HMRC, UK Border Agency, Local Authorities and the Attorney General of Jersey.
5SAH Prosecution barristers have been instructed in some of the most high-profile financial crime cases in recent years. These have included being instructed by the SFO in the investigation into Rolls Royce, leading to a Deferred Prosecution Agreement. Edmund Burge QC prosecuted two of HMRC’s ten most important cases of 2018, in a list released by HMRC in December 2018.
5SAH Prosecution barristers are experts at advising on disclosure, particularly in light of the digital disclosure and downloads issues that are now at the forefront of all prosecution bodies’ minds. Publications include co-authoring ‘Tackling Disclosure in the Criminal Courts – A Practitioner’s Guide’. Members have acted as disclosure counsel in some of the most high profile criminal cases of recent years, including the prosecution of Andrew Coulson and others for “phone hacking”, and the prosecution of Levi Bellfield for the abduction and murder of Milly Dowler.
"The set does high-level, sophisticated work, and has a great range of barristers."
Chambers and Partners 2019
5SAH prosecution barristers act for clients in all types of serious criminal cases, including:
- Murder and manslaughter
- Serious violence
- Public order offences
- Sexual offences
- Female genital mutilation (FGM)
- Forensic evidence
- Modern slavery offences
- Harassment and intimidation
- Kidnap and false imprisonment
- Serious domestic violence
- Drug trafficking
- County line cases
- Knife and firearms offences
- Human trafficking and other immigration offences
- UK border agency offences
- HMRC criminal offences
- Money laundering
- Theft and robbery
- Driving offences
- Culture-based cases
- Local authority negligence cases
- Extradition & International criminal law
The clerks’ room is ‘client-focused, efficient, friendly, accommodating’, and ‘work with solicitors to ensure clients are satisfied’.
Chambers and Partners 2020
To discuss your case further, please contact our experienced clerks at 5 St. Andrew’s Hill.
Make an enquiry
+44 (0) 207 332 5400