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£1 million in legal costs paid out of public funds to private prosecutor

In R (Virgin Media Ltd) v Zinga [2014] EWCA 1823 the Court of Appeal, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice, was asked to consider the quantum of costs payable to the private prosecutor in connection with an appeal against a confiscation order. These costs are payable from the public purse out of 'central funds' (s17 Prosecution of Offences Act 1985). The private prosecutor had already been paid very nearly £1 million in legal costs from the public purse in connection with the original prosecution and an appeal against conviction (paragraph 2). It was seeking a further payment from public funds of £93070.46 in connection with the further appeal against the confiscation order.  The Court reviewed the relevant legislation, the submissions of Virgin, and gave the following guidance when assessing the quantum of costs payable to a private prosecutor. Firstly, had the private prosecutor acted reasonably and properly in instructing the solicitors and advocates instructed. Secondly, had the private prosecutor examined the relevant market? It would rarely or ever be reasonable not to have done so. In conclusion the Lord Chief Justice said this: "the experience of this court is that there is unlikely to be any difference in quality between a prosecution brought by the State and a private prosecution. In the present state of public finances and the funds available for the proper administration of justice, it cannot be right that resources are deployed by the State in such a way that an opportunity is provided for prosecutions to be brought by private interests at a cost to the State that is likely to be far greater than if the prosecution were undertaken by the State. No doubt the savings to public expenditure can be used for the benefit of the proper administration of justice".


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