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Postal Requisitions – Starting a Prosecution

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Postal requisition has in many cases become the preferred method of informing a suspect that a prosecution has commenced. A written charge sent by post, it is very similar to a court summons which obliges a defendant to attend the court on a specified date and time.


Since changes to bail provisions, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service have greatly increased the use of this process for bringing a case to the Magistrates’ Court.


Failing to attend court for a properly served requisition can give rise to a warrant being issued for the subject’s arrest, which reinforces the power of the process and the obligations upon the defendant.


Effectively introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the requisition will contain the written charges alleged.


Since 2003, the requisition has also been a tool of the Serious Fraud Office and the National Crime Agency to bring complex investigations to a conclusion. Inevitably, the individual, company or corporate entity will have been HYPERLINK released under investigation for some time before that takes place.


There are various options open to defendants to challenge a requisition. The document must be served effectively on the person or corporation and must be within the specified time limits for the offence alleged. Should a local council be the prosecuting body, the requisition may be accompanied by a bundle of the initial case papers and accompanying information relating to any ancillary claims.


The requisition must also be in the correct form and a failure to comply with the Criminal Procedure Rules may lead to a court determining that the format is defective.


It is highly likely that postal requisitions will be used more in the future following the impact of the pandemic and it is even foreseeable that the courts may begin to more readily accept proceedings being commenced by email or other digital media.


Piers Desser