A firm thought to be the first private prosecution specialist in Britain opened in London last week to 'fill a gap in the tackling of economic crime'.
Edmonds Marshall McMahon, established as a legal disciplinary practice, will specialise in fraud, counterfeiting, regulatory offences, corporate crime and proceeds of crime matters. Its founders, solicitor Kate McMahon (pictured) and barristers Andrew Marshall and Tamlyn Edmonds, all have experience prosecuting high-profile and complex cases.
McMahon, a former solicitor at the Serious Fraud Office, told the Gazette: 'The idea was suggested by agencies who told us that due to budgetary cuts they were not getting enough attention from government lawyers.'
She said: 'Crime rises in times of economic crisis, but so do spending cuts at the government agencies charged with prosecuting offenders, so there is a large gap in the tackling of economic crime.' Companies and individuals that are victims of crime, she said, are finding traditional methods of redress either unavailable to them or prohibitively slow and costly.
McMahon said 'huge numbers' of people had called the firm to enquire about private prosecutions, 'from victims' groups to those in the pharmaceuticals industry'. But she added: 'We are not setting up to compete with government agencies, but to fill the gaps. Counterfeiting is almost ignored by prosecuting agencies and the SFO only takes on large cases.'
The firm aims to dispel the common misconception that only the Crown or government agencies can use the criminal justice system to prosecute people or companies.