Serious Fraud Office v Evans (Voluntary Bill of Indictment)

[2014] EWHC 3803 (QBD)

14th November 2014

High Court


The SFO attempted to restore this prosecution following its dismissal by Hickinbottom J. by bringing civil proceedings in the form of an application for Voluntary Bill of Indictment.  As the original dismissal had been by a High Court Judge, a Lord Justice of Appeal who rejected the application, also in a judgment that defines this area of the law, heard this. Because of ‘the prosecution’s repeated shifts in stance’ and it would be a misuse of this exceptional procedure. Fulford LJ stated:

  • “I fear the SFO in this case failed at the outset to identify the proper legal underpinnings of the charges, and instead it varied its case in law against the accused as the arguments unfolded and in response to the restrained but penetrating enquiries on the part of Hickinbottom J.”
  • "This would constitute a misuse of this exceptional procedure: the trial process should not be used, deliberately or otherwise, to explore in repeat proceedings – from a range of profoundly different options – the most sustainable legal basis for prosecuting alleged criminals.”  

Fulford L.J.


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