What is the Right to Review?
The Victims’ Right to Review (VRR) Scheme is a statutory scheme that has been in place since December 2013 and enables those who are the victims of crime to seek a review of a decision taken by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to prosecute a case or where they have decided to terminate proceedings.
The process to seek a review should be a straightforward process, but it can be a daunting process for many. Not knowing the law in detail or not having the skill or ability to highlight the relevant factual and/or legal issues may put many off. In addition, the perception that an Organisation like the CPS will be fair dispassionate when it is being asked to re-consider its own decision may be a leap of faith too far for many.
How can a solicitor help in obtaining the Right to Review?
Our private client department has the skills and expertise to assist in the review process. Due to the skill set that our criminal Solicitors have, we are able to understand the process and advice in this area. We can formulate representations for a review and provide advice on the merits, or otherwise, of seeking an Independent Review.
A worked example of a recent case that we were asked to advise upon will assist in an understanding of the process. As the case will be the subject of future Court proceedings (for reasons that will become clear), we cannot refer to any level of detail that would identify the case or participants in it.
We received instructions following an initial CPS decision. The decision dealt with a perceived time limit issue preventing them from prosecuting a specific criminal offence and also related evidential difficulties that they perceived in respect of a related offence.
How does the Right to Review process work?
The first stage of any VRR is a review by way of a Local Resolution review with the CPS region that made the original decision. As such, we considered the available case papers and drafted detailed Grounds to Appeal the initial decision, dealing with the erroneous issue of the time limit and the perceived evidential issues. The result of this was to uphold the original decision, but the rationale for this was wrong in our view.
We then drafted additional Grounds in order that an Independent Review would have to then take place. This is takes place at a central CPS unit and following them considering the detailed grounds we provided, the original decision was reversed, with the CPS indicating that charges would follow based on the suggested charges put forward by us at the outset.
Of course, the Court process will now take effect and a decision on guilt or innocence will be made by the Court.
Certain time limits apply, and while not set in stone, they should be adhered to. A delay may have an impact on the decision-making process and prevent charges following if the review process hasn’t been dealt with in a timely manner.
We are not able to assist on such an appeal/review on a legally aided basis. We can discuss a fixed fee basis upon which we can provide this service. Due to the specialist nature of this, one of our experienced private client crime solicitors would deal with the case. We are able to provide this advice on a nationwide basis.