The article, published on the 23rd August 2015, examines the difficulties in bringing a private prosecution in Scotland. This discussion has been prompted by the inquiry into the death of six people as a bin lorry collided with pedestrians in Glasgow on the 22nd December 2014.
Kate McMahon of Edmonds Marshall McMahon was interviewed by the Sunday Post due to her unique position as a director of the only specialist private prosecution law firm in the UK. She noted the comparison between the Scottish and English and Welsh systems, insisting that the Scottish public and the victim’s families should have easier access to private prosecution proceedings. Private prosecutions are rare in Scotland, with a total of two taking place in the past century, a contrast to England and Wales where such prosecutions are on the rise.
The Scottish public have been vocal about the need to enable access to private prosecutions, in order to ensure that victims have access to justice after traumatic events in incidences such as this: ‘from what I know of the bin lorry inquiry, it seems to me a private prosecution would be an ideal route to go down… the circumstances suggest that there was always a danger the driver had a history that was relevant.’ (Kate McMahon)
The article also discusses some of the common misconceptions associated with bringing private prosecutions; namely that they are expensive and risk ‘choking’ the legal system with extra cases. In Kate’s opinion, the situation is quite the contrary as private prosecutions in England and Wales are scrutinised by ‘plenty of justice safeguards that mean cases would not run unchecked.’ Further, whilst private prosecutions can sometimes be a more costly route, costs can be recovered from central funds and the client can control the speed of the investigation and prosecution, rather than relying upon the Police or CPS; this often vastly increases the efficiency of the case.
For more information about undertaking private prosecutions please see our website: http://www.emmlegal.com/why-prosecute/