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The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal brought by the Chief Constable of Northumbria Police & the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) in this important case involving the proper construction of section 22 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).

Sharp J had held [2009] EWHC 958 (QB) that the police did not have power under section 22 of PACE to retain seized material in circumstances where the Crown Prosecution Service had declined to bring a prosecution and FACT wished to commence a private prosecution for copyright infringement. The Court of Appeal disagreed and ruled that the police did have such a power.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment recognises the important role that private prosecutions can play in protecting copyright and, more generally, of upholding the criminal law.

Tom Weisselberg was Junior Counsel for the Northumbria Police and FACT.