Briefing Note: A Prosecutor's Duty of Candour

On 23 May, the High Court (Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Sweeney) allowed an application for judicial review against the refusal of Leeds Magistrates' Court to dismiss summonses that had been issued upon the application of a private prosecutor.

The Claimants successfully argued that a private prosecutor is subject to a duty of candour in applying ex parte for a summons in the Magistrates' Court; that the private prosecutor had failed to comply with that duty; and that the summonses should be quashed. 

The Court also made an Order for costs against the Private Prosecutor in the sum of £250,000. The Court had "no hesitation" in concluding that all costs incurred by the Claimants, both in the High Court and the Magistrates' Court, should be assessed on an indemnity basis.

This case underlines the importance of compliance by prosecutors, public and private alike, with their duty of candour: "compliance with the duty of candour is the foundation stone upon which such decisions are taken ...its importance cannot be overstated."

Adrian Darbishire QC and Rachna Gokani represented the Claimants, instructed by Neil Swift and Maria Cronin of Peters & Peters.

Please click here to read our briefing note that examines the implications of this important decision.

If you have any questions, please contact Chris Emmings, our senior clerk. 

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