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Civil Proceedings Against The CPS

Updated 07 November 2019|Legal Guidance


Civil claims are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and the associated Protocols and Practice Directions.

CPS Proceeds of Crime (CPSPOC) has a dedicated Unit – the Civil Litigation Unit (CLU) - responsible for civil litigation claims brought against the CPS arising out of prosecution casework.  The remit of the CLU is to deal with civil claims brought against the CPS in respect of its alleged actions or omissions which resulted in loss.

Contact with the CLU can be made by emailing: 

Or: by writing to -

Civil Litigation Unit
5th Floor Zone A
102 Petty France
DX: 161330 Westminster 11


Civil claims can be notified to the CPS in the following ways:

  • A letter from an individual or solicitor seeking compensation before issuing proceedings. This is known as a “pre-action letter”
  • A claim form may be issued by the court.

Claim forms must be served directly on Government Legal Department (GLD), in accordance with Civil Procedure Rule 66, who will in turn notify the CPS of the claim.

GLD’s address for service is:

Government Legal Department
102 Petty France
DX: 123243 Westminster 12

Types of claim

The CLU deals with litigation arising from prosecution decisions and actions. It does not deal with civil claims resulting from personal injury or employment claims.

The most frequently pleaded Heads of Claim include:

  • Malicious prosecution
  • Misfeasance in a public office
  • Breaches under the Human Rights Act 1998
  • Negligence
  • Third party disclosure applications.

The CLU does not deal with complaints arising out of prosecutions or the handling of criminal cases. Such matters are dealt with under the CPS Feedback and Complaints Policy.

In accordance with the Feedback and Complaints Policy, it may be appropriate to offer an apology if it is accepted that something has gone wrong with the prosecutorial process. However, an apology of itself will not amount to an admission of negligence or breach of any statutory duty pursuant to section 2 Compensation Act 2006.

Letters of claim/Pre-action letters

Letters of claim must clearly set out the legal basis (Heads of Claim) upon which a claimant seeks damages. It must set out the following:

  • Who it is intended to bring proceedings against
  • The relevant background facts
  • Why it is alleged that the CPS is at fault (i.e. what is the act or omission alleged)
  • The loss suffered and remedy sought
  • If a financial remedy is sought, the amount and how that amount is calculated.

Once the letter of claim is received, the CLU will acknowledge receipt. Under the CPR the CPS has three months in which to investigate the matter and provide a substantive response in relation to any allegations made - see the Practice Direction on Pre-action Conduct and Protocol para 6 (b).

In complex matters, GLD will be instructed to represent the CPS and provide the substantive response on liability.

In the event that a claim is issued against the CPS which is considered to be without merit or lack any legal substance, the CPS will make an application to the court to have the claim struck out and will seek to recover the cost of the application from the claimant.


The statutory limitation period for issuing a claim alleging breach of human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights 1998 is one year from the date of the alleged breach. For example, in criminal proceedings the limitation period expires one year after the conclusion of the case.

In relation to claims alleging malicious prosecution, malfeasance in a public office or negligence, the statutory limitation period expires six years from the date of conviction or conclusion of the case (Limitation Act 1980).

If a claim is issued against the CPS after the relevant limitation period has expired, the CPS will be entitled to use this fact as a defence to the claim. If proceedings are started in time, to comply with the statutory time limit but before the parties have followed the procedures in the Practice Direction or the relevant pre-action protocol, the parties should apply to the court for a stay of the proceedings while they so comply.

For further guidance on Civil Claims please refer to the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.

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