Interactive decision tree
Please use our interactive tool to understand more about the criminal and civil justice systems and how the two systems can interact. It outlines the main steps, and has been specifically created with the individuals and smaller business victim in mind.
Please carefully read about the main differences between the criminal and civil justice systems before using the decision tree.
Proceedings begin when the court issues a claim form at the request of the claimant.
The claim form sets out the identities of the claimant and the defendant, the amount claimed, and brief details of the claim. It may also include the particulars of claim which will allege the fraud in full detail or it may follow later.
If the claim is in excess of £100,000 then the claim form may be issued by the High Court. If the claim is for less, then any claim form may be issued by being sent to either the County Courts Money Claim Centre or by entering the details at Money Claim Online.
Between the start of proceedings and any trial it can be possible to apply for one or more extremely powerful and effective interim measures against a fraudster.
Freezing injunctions can be imposed at both the High Court and County Court level. They act to restrain the defendant from either removing assets from the jurisdiction or from dealing with any assets worldwide.
In order to obtain the injunction the claimant must have:
- a good arguable case;
- sufficient evidence about the existence and location of assets which the injunction would affect; and
- evidence that there is a real risk the defendant will dissipate the assets before judgment can be obtained and enforced.
Search orders can be imposed in cases at the High Court (generally only those claims in excess of £100,000). Search orders permit the claimant’s agents to enter the defendant’s premises and to carry out a search for evidence and to seize certain items.
In order to obtain the order the claimant must:
- have a strong case;
- show that serious harm or injustice will be suffered if the order isn’t made;
- show clear evidence that the defendants have relevant documents or property;
- show there is a real possibility that the defendant might destroy or remove the relevant items; and
- show that the harm likely to be caused by the order to the defendant or his business must not be excessive or out of proportion to the legitimate object of the order.
To be effective, these orders must be made without the defendant’s knowledge. This places a special requirement on the claimant to undertake full and frank disclosure (ie, to put all relevant facts before the court and raise counter arguments on the defendant’s behalf).
The court will also require cross-undertakings for damages. This is an undertaking by which the claimant promises to pay compensation to the defendant if the claimant fails to win the overall case. The claimant must show that they have sufficient assets to make this undertaking and may have to provide security to the court.