I have just posted about a client that I secured a not guilty finding for. He has been convicted on 4 separate occasions of failing to give information in response to a formal requirement from the police after a speed camera activation. On each occasion we have had to go back to court and get the conviction set aside, followed by a fresh trial. I can hear the screams of protest from here, how can you defend “these people”?
Well when you then discover that the client has never seen the car, nor owned it and doesn’t know who does you might have a little more sympathy for him. Whoever bought the car from a back street car dealer gave his name and address and then has continued to drive through speed and traffic light cameras safe in the knowledge that it will be my client and not him that gets all the section 172 notices (that require the keeper to name the driver). The client to some extent is saved in the freshly reopened trial by the very thing that had him convicted in his absence….he moved from the address given (which was on his old driving licence in the wallet he lost) four years ago. So whilst this means he doesn’t know about the cases until the DVLA write to him at the address on his current licence, he has been convicted without knowing about the case because the police and court only use the address given to them by the car dealer.
Unfortunately the law in this is not helpful he has to give evidence to rebut the presumption the notices were served on him , meaning a trial and costs. The law says that “any person” has information they can give in response to a section 172 notice, even if it is to say ” I have never owned this car”
This is not a one off, to quote one of my clients who had become the registered keeper of a new Range Rover, “if you give me the car I’ll pay the fine and take the points!” (but probably not all the parking tickets!) I have dealt with three cases in similar circumstances in the last couple of years.
There are a few things that come out of this;
If you get section 172 notices for a car you don’t recognise don’t ignore them.
It also gets me going on defendants costs, it used to be that if you were found not guilty the court would give you a Defendants Costs Order and you could claim your defence costs from the court. You can still get a Defendants Costs Order but now you are only paid at legal aid rates ( I pay more an hour to get my car serviced than a client gets back on a DCO). So you keep your licence but are left a few hundred pounds out of pocket.
Its not justice it just is!
Article writtine by Ian Jackson – Solicitor