City Research Online

The Public-Private Divide in Prosecutions and Obtaining of Evidence: Towards a Code?

Elvin, J. D. & de Than, C. (2014). The Public-Private Divide in Prosecutions and Obtaining of Evidence: Towards a Code? In: Frenkel, D. (Ed.), Private Law, Public Law and Human Rights. . Athens, Greece: Athens Institute for Education and Research.


In English law, in spite of the existence of the Crown Prosecution Service, every person still has the right to bring a criminal prosecution. Nowadays, this right is little used by individuals acting in a personal capacity, but private prosecutions have become much more common in recent years as corporations have attempted to use them to protect their commercial interests, and as some law firms have encouraged individuals and corporations to bring them as a means of obtaining redress. In 1977, Lord Diplock stated that the right to bring a private prosecution is ‘a useful constitutional safeguard against capricious, corrupt or biased failure or refusal of [the relevant state] authorities to prosecute offenders against the criminal law.’1 However, there is more recent judicial authority for the view that the right to prosecute privately is a historical anomaly of little worth, and potentially dangerous.2

It is with both of these judicial views in mind that we examine the relationship between certain organisations which exist solely to protect the commercial interests of particular corporations, and English and Welsh state agencies such as police authorities and local councils, which have a duty to consider the public interest but which sometimes work in partnership with such organisations.We argue that this relationship raises serious concerns about the potential abuse of state power by private organisations, and that a specific code of conduct may be required to guard against such abuse.

Publication Type: Book Section
Publisher Keywords: private prosecution
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
[thumbnail of Than-elvin.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (315kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login