What does the term ‘abuse of process’ actually mean?
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At DRN Solicitors, we are often contacted by disgruntled defendant’s indicating that a decision to prosecute them is wrong and ‘an abuse of process.’ What does the term ‘abuse of process’ actually mean?
The basic principle is that it is for the prosecution, not the court, to decide whether a prosecution should be commenced and then once started, to continue. The courts however have an overriding duty to promote justice and prevent injustice. From this duty there arises an inherent power to ‘stay’ an indictment (or stop a prosecution in the magistrates’ courts) if the court is of the opinion that to allow the prosecution to continue would amount to an abuse of the process of the court. Abuse of process has been defined as something so unfair and wrong with the prosecution that the court should not allow a prosecutor to proceed with what is, in all other respects, a perfectly supportable case. ‘Unfair and wrong’ is for the court to determine on the individual facts of each case. The concept of a fair trial involves fairness to the prosecution and to the public as well as to the defendant.
If you feel that a decision to prosecute you is so unfair and wrong that the court should not allow the prosecution to proceed, contact one of our criminal law experts on 01282 433241.