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Challenge to CPS Victims’ Right of Review Guidance

R (Chaudhry) v Director of Public Prosecutions [2016] EWHC 2447 (Admin)

Related Member(s):
Dan Squires QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Crime and Regulatory Law

The claimant was the victim of a crime which led to her husband being convicted on two charges of child abduction. The claimant asserted that her husband’s sister was also involved, but the CPS declined to prosecute her. The CPS denied that the claimant was entitled to a review of its decision under its Victims’ Right of Review (VRR) scheme. It did eventually conduct a review exceptionally, but came to the same conclusion that there was no realistic prospect of conviction.

While the claimant did not seek to challenge this decision, she argued that the CPS Victims’ Right of Review Guidance was unlawful, and sought declaratory relief and the quashing of para 11(iii), which stated that a review of a decision not to prosecute by the CPS would not be taken where charges were “brought… against some (but not all) possible suspects.” Alternatively she argued that the words “or against some (but not all) possible suspects” should be deleted. She argued that the amendment to the guidance, which highlighted the possibility of discretion being exercised, was insufficient. She also argued that the CPS criteria for exercising discretion where cases did not call within the VRR were unclear.

The court considered the decision in R v Killick [2011] EWCA Crim 1608, which prompted the creation of the VRR scheme, as well as Directive 2012/29/EU establishing ‘minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.’

The court held that the CPS had not interpreted the VRR guidance as preventing it from reviewing cases that were outside the scheme’s scope. This was apparent from the fact that the decision was ultimately reviewed in the claimant’s case. It did not accept that case law or the Directive provided victims with a general right to a review of all cases where charges were brought against some but not all suspects. This would undermine prosecutorial discretion to too great an extent, and would interfere with CPS efficiency. The court also dismissed the argument that the criteria for exercising exceptional discretion lacked transparency.

Daniel Squires QC was involved in this case.