Levitt proposes single combined fraud court

Fraud cases should be heard by a single combined court with a judge who deals with the civil and criminal aspects, a former senior prosecutor suggested.

In a speech, Economic crime: a new one-stop shop, Alison Levitt QC, now a partner at law firm Mishcon de Reya, told the Cambridge Economic Crime Symposium in September that there needed to be a ‘totally new legal approach’ to economic crime with a new branch of the court system – the Combined Fraud Court – to deal with it.

The one-stop shop, she said, would combine the civil and criminal systems in a single trial, so it would be quicker and cheaper, and mean victims only giving evidence once.

A specially qualified fraud judge would hear a single trial, using aspects of civil and criminal law, Levitt explained.

At the end of the trial, the judge would ask whether the jury is satisfied to the criminal standard that the defendant is guilty.

If so, the judge would go on to deal with sentencing, assessing and awarding damages, confiscating assets which represent the proceeds of the defendant’s crimes, and awarding costs.

If the jury is not sure of guilt, they are dismissed and the judge reverts to the civil procedure to determine the issue on the balance of probabilities.

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