Jamie had been caught speeding at 101 mph and had now received a Single Justice Procedure Notice. At that speed the sentencing guidelines, which Magistrates are obliged to follow, advocate a range of sentencing options from an immediate disqualification of up to 56 days, at the top end, to an endorsement of 6 penalty points, at the lower end, (plus a fine in either case). Jamie was going to admit the offence but the difficulty he faced was that, whatever happened, he simply could not afford to be disqualified from driving.
The Single Justice Procedure Notice gave Jamie the option of pleading ‘Guilty’ and either saying he wished to attend court or didn’t wish to attend. In the latter case the Single Justice retains the option of requiring him to attend if consideration is to be given to a disqualification or of simply issuing a fine and ordering the endorsement of penalty points (without the need for Jamie to attend court). Given the absolute priority of seeking to avoid a ban, what should Jamie have done?
Jamie decided to instruct Sunil, a specialist motoring offence lawyer at Kent Traffic Law. In a face to face consultation full instructions were taken on his situation including the background to the commission of the offence and to Jamie’s business and family background. He had a young family who were dependent on him for whom he provided by running two small businesses. He would have been unable to run his businesses without his licence. The intention of the consultation was to provide the background to a mitigation submission which was to be made at court, but, Sunil suggested an alternative course of action.
Although Jamie had been caught speeding in the top bracket he was at the very bottom end of that bracket. Jamie could have ticked the box, ‘Guilty wish to attend’ and relied upon his lawyer to attempt to avoid a ban when his court date arrived. Instead, as advised, he instructed his lawyer to write a short mitigation submission to be included with the Notice and ticked the box for ‘Guilty – don’t wish to attend’. Sunil used his judgement and experience to draft the most persuasive statement possible to be included with the Notice which Jamie then returned.
The trouble for motorists acting without specialist legal advice is that it is very easy, in fact common, for them to want to put forward matters that do not in fact advance their interests at all ie they often put forward matters that ‘aggravate’ rather than ‘mitigate’ the offence. However, in Jamie’s case a relatively short mitigation statement was drafted which set out his case for avoiding a ban (both in relation to the offence and to his background circumstances). The statement was completely accurate based upon the instructions given but it was selective in terms of those matters put forward.
Even though Jamie was caught in the top speeding bracket and could reasonably have expected a 56 day ban he instead received no more than an endorsement of 6 penalty points (and a fine)! He was delighted at the outcome and wrote,
‘Great advice from Sunil and a carefully drafted statement with the Single Justice Procedure Notice averted a ban. This was a great relief given that I depend upon my licence to run my businesses. I was particularly pleased to avoid the stress and costs of having to attend court.’
Many motorists face loss of job or business, and all that that entails, if disqualified from driving. Sometimes, even though a ban may be a potentially apt outcome from the court’s perspective, it proves possible to avoid one. Often this can only be achieved by attending court and persuading the court not to ban (for which Jamie was ready in this case). However, in the end he managed to avoid a ban without having to suffer the stress or the costs of instructing his lawyer to attend. So, if there is a chance of avoiding the costs of attendance and limiting legal costs to the fee for a consultation why not take it?
If you face completing a Single Justice Procedure Notice, whether for speeding or any other offence, and wonder if it might be possible to avoid a ban without the need to attend court you are most welcome to call, without obligation, to discuss it.