23 September 2020

Clyde & Co to offer global private prosecutions service amid Covid-19 trial delays

Service allows clients to privately pursue criminal cases such as fraud and regulatory offences

Clyde & Co has launched a global private prosecutions service for businesses and individuals seeking to pursue cases that public prosecutors are unable or unwilling to take on.

The service will be offered through the firm’s regulatory and investigations group, and allows clients to pursue criminal proceedings in cases such as fraud, IP and trademark infringements, and regulatory offences. Private prosecutions give businesses more control over proceedings and can offer a faster resolution than public prosecutions.

Charles Kuhn, a partner at Clyde & Co, said: “State prosecution and investigatory authorities are having to deal with limited resources, and criminal court proceedings in most countries are being impaired by large backlogs and delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Against this backdrop parties are assessing more and more how they can pursue cases which police either cannot or will not.”

The service gives clients access to a multi-jurisdictional team of litigators and experts in the UK, Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, with experience in civil and criminal proceedings from both a defence and prosecution perspective.

The private prosecutions team is supported by the firm’s UK-based forensic accountants, investigators and business intelligence department, and complements the firm’s existing offerings for claimant-related civil fraud.

Keith Geurts, another partner at Clyde & Co who is involved in the offering, said: “The benefit of private prosecutions will undoubtedly surge as resources to investigate and prosecute 'civil' crimes such as intellectual property theft and fraud are increasingly limited. Our global team can provide an avenue for clients facing challenges with traditional paths, and provide access to justice where these crimes might otherwise be overlooked.”

Last month, the Financial Times reported that the number of outstanding cases in crown courts in England & Wales had risen to 43,676 at the end of July, up from 39,546 at the end of March. The backlog was caused by a government error in working out the number of hours needed to process criminal cases in 2019, and then further exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic this year. Some jury trials have even been pushed back as far as 2022.

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