A case for crowdfunding and private prosecutions

In the Law Society Gazette on 20th July 2020, Jolyon Maugham QC raised concerns over pressure to raise funds quickly through crowd funding creating a “clear moral hazard” of over-promising on case’s prospects.

There have recently been calls for the crowdfunding of some private prosecutions where it could be argued there may be little chance of success, or where cases are politically motivated. For example, the prosecution last year brought by Marcus Ball against Boris Johnson was considered by the High Court to be vexatious.

However, at MSB we work carefully and responsibly with independent investigators prior to making a call for funds through Crowd Justice, to ensure that there are realistic prospects of the case progressing. One of the many factors we consider is whether the case could be considered vexatious or politically motivated, such that those factors could undermine the eventual prospects of success of a case.  Whether such factors are considered by others is questionable. At MSB we also like to assure that our clients and donors are offered value for their money and we work at substantially lower rates than many.

We also work within the confines of the law, as stated recently in ZXC v Bloomberg, respecting the anonymity of the accused subject to investigation.  Once charges have been brought then we will only disseminate information which the Court will hear and which is not in dispute.

Jeremy Asher, Head of Private Prosecutions at MSB, says:

“These confines do make it more difficult to attract interest in cases because they are less salacious than others that might be promoted through crowdfunding platforms in a less ethical way. The fact that some other law firms, who may not have demonstrable experience of bringing private prosecutions, flout these simple rules is a concern. However, crowdfunding offers an opportunity to those who do not have access to sufficient funds to access justice. Regulations that restrict that opportunity should be resisted.”

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If you would like to discuss any of the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team, via the below details: