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Timing is everything

Stephen Boyd considers the case law regarding the
issue of concurrent civil and criminal proceedings

14 March 2003

Can a claimant pursue a civil action if this leads to the defendant having to disclose his defence, and indicate what his defence is likely to be in concurrent criminal proceedings? In Jefferson Ltd v Bhetcha [1979] 1 WLR 898 the Court of Appeal held this scenario was not debarred by any principle of law. However, the court held it had a discretion to stay the proceedings if it appeared that justice between the parties so required, where concurrent criminal proceedings arose from the same subject matter and taking into account the defendants’ ‘right of silence’ in the criminal proceedings. Each case must be judged on its own facts and the burden is on the defendant to show it is just and convenient to interfere with the claimant’s right of having his claim processed and decided. The court gave examples of relevant factors (p 905):
  • The civil action would be likely to obtain such publicity as might sensibly be expected to reach, and to influence, persons who might be ...
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