• 'A leading chambers in the financial crime market' Chambers UK, Financial Crime: Private Prosecutions 2022
  • 'An impressive bench of leading silks and juniors experienced in both the prosecution and defence of complex and high-value cases… Private prosecutions continue to be a key area of strength for the team.' Chambers UK, Financial Crime: Private Prosecutions 2022

Intellectual Property Private Prosecutions

A team highly regarded by industry bodies for their expertise in private prosecutions of Criminal Copyright Infringement Offences; their knowledge, experience and skill in the field is unrivalled.


Chambers has a highly specialised intellectual property unit, led by David Groome and Ari Alibhai, which has successfully undertaken almost 300 private prosecutions on behalf of major multinational organisations in music, film, sport and broadcast media, including: the Premier League; FACT; Sky Group Ltd; BT; The British Recorded Music Industry; and Virgin Media plc.

The team’s experience is unrivalled and their performance within the field, formidable. They have acted in the majority of intellectual property related private prosecutions over the last 20 years and have been at the forefront of almost every groundbreaking decision and prosecution success.

Our Experience

This unit has been responsible for almost every major Copyright and Trademark-related Private Prosecution brought in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The principal members of the team practise exclusively in this field, are recognised by both Chambers UK and The Legal 500 as leaders and have trained the Specialist Fraud Division of the CPS in the prosecution of complex intellectual property fraud as well as investigators at the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the British Recorded Music Industry (formerly the BPI) and numerous trading standards services.

David Groome and Ari Alibhai are currently prosecuting what is alleged to be one of the world’s largest illicit streaming service providers, ‘Flawless’, concerning millions of pounds in revenue said to have been generated through the illicit provision of premium television and film content to thousands of online subscribers.

Ari Alibhai recently prosecuted the first ever case to involve online piracy facilitated through an app, ‘Supremacy’, which enabled users to access premium television and film content without payment being made to those who own the rights in such content. Ari has been referenced as an IP specialist by the Intellectual Property Office in the UK Government response to calls for views from the Creative Industries concerning the effects of illicit streaming and online piracy.

David Groome and Ari Alibhai were Counsel for FACT in one of the most notable cases in this field: R v Anton Vickerman (2008-2012). This was the first time that online piracy had been effectively prosecuted within the jurisdiction. Anton Vickerman, who set up and ran one of the world's most visited pirate websites 'surfthechannel', attracting more than 400,000 visitors per day and generating advertising revenues of at least US$50,000 per month, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud by 'facilitating' the infringement of Copyright. At its peak, www.surfthechannel.com was the 500th most visited website globally and provided access to more than 5,000 pirated films and TV programmes. The case was multi-jurisdictional and inherently complex; the website was controlled by Vickerman and run through a limited company, Scopelight Ltd, which funnelled profits to a bank account in Latvia. This case is of huge significance in the field and was cited in the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s Report: Supporting the Creative Economy.

David Groome and Ari Alibhai have recently successfully prosecuted R v O’Reilly & O’Leary, the first UK/European case concerning the supplier of an IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) System, whose operators Defrauded UK and International Broadcasters. The team prosecuted on behalf of The Football Association Premier League and Federation Against Copyright Theft. Since the conclusion of this case, David and Ari have been instructed in almost every major illicit streaming prosecution within this jurisdiction.

More broadly, the team advises on designing and implementing private prosecution systems to reduce exposure to intellectual property theft. They frequently speak at seminars on private prosecution, both nationally and internationally. They are held in the highest regard by industry bodies and corporates across the globe.

Notable Cases

R v King & Ors
Three men were sentenced to a total of 17 years’ imprisonment following their conviction for a 10 year conspiracy to defraud the suppliers of subscription television and the Premier League.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT)
Privately prosecuted the first conviction of a software developer for creating the means by which others could access infringing content. This was the first conviction of its kind in the UK.

R v Sohail Rafiq, Reece Baker, Graham Reid & Ben Cooper (2015)
Five receive Prison sentences in Private Prosecution for Illegal Film Distribution.

R v Mahoney (2015)
A Northern Ireland man was sentenced to four years in Prison at Londonderry Crown Court for running an Internet Piracy Scam.

Helidon Vuciterni (2014)
David Groome and Ari Alibhai acted for the Premier League in the successful Prosecution of Helidon Vuciterni.

Dancing Jesus (aka: Kane Robinson -&- Richard Graham) (2014) 
Private Prosecution success against Dancing Jesus website.

R v Danks (Philip) (2014) 
Philip Danks, Ringleader of a sophisticated Online and Film Piracy network, was sentenced to 33 months in Prison at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

R v Reid & Lewis - Araditracker (2013) 
Instructed by the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland to prosecute in the alleged operation of the film torrent site Araditracker.

R v Zinga (Munaf) (2013) 
Private Prosecution (on behalf of Virgin Media Ltd) of importer and wholesaler of devices designed to defraud Virgin Media.

R v Helidon Vuciterni (2013) 
Private Prosecution (on behalf of FAPL) of Defendant for alleged operation of a card-sharing network.

R v Rayyonics Ltd (2012)
Illicit set-top box supplier. Rayyonics Ltd designed, manufactured and imported the Eurovox series of television set-top-boxes which, when programmed, enabled access to the entire Virgin Media subscription television service without payment. Zinga sold approximately 400,000 set-top-boxes in a Conspiracy spanning some three years. The Judge ordered an £8.7m Confiscation Order. 

R v Vickerman (Anton) (2012) 
Private Prosecution (on behalf of Federation Against Copyright Theft) of the most popular pirate film indexing site in the world.


Recent Cases



Private Prosecution: The quiet battle against illegal streaming

In this month’s edition, Oliver Mosley writes for The Barrister about the ‘quiet battle’ against illegal streaming operators through the use of private prosecutions, and the vital impact this can have on these criminal...

Ari Alibhai Presents a Webinar on the Landmark Private Prosecution Case: Supremacy

On 30 November 2021, Stephen Millington was sentenced to a total of 30 months’ imprisonment following his guilty plea to a number of fraud and copyright offences relating to his creation and supply of software and add-ons which enabled thousands of his...

10th Mar 2021

A Podcast: The Mechanics, Advantages and Potential Pitfalls of Private Prosecutions Nick Corsellis QC and Ari Alibhai , senior members of QEB’s private prosecution practice group, discuss the mechanics, advantages and potential pitfalls of private...

Ari Alibhai co-authors Private Prosecution Practice Note for Lexis Nexis

QEB Hollis Whiteman member Ari Alibhai, private prosecution specialist, collaborated with solicitor David Northfield of Fieldfisher LLP to produce a Practice Note, Protecting Intellectual Property through Private Prosecutions for legal publisher Lexis Nexis PSL series.  

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