We recently assisted a client who to his horror discovered that he’d been disqualified from driving in his absence. How does this happen, you may ask yourself? The facts are quite straightforward but the subsequent unraveling required some careful work and negotiation skills.
Client is a professional driver and so his licence is extremely important to him. Both he and his partner are insured to drive the vehicle in question. His partner drove the vehicle and triggered a mobile camera. The Notice of Intended Prosecution/Request for Information arrived. Since client is the registered keeper, the police write to him. Client’s partner intercepts the letter and proceeds to try and be ‘helpful’.
In doing so, she fills out the form, admits being the driver and returns the form to the police. So far, so compliant, right? No, because the form is addressed to the client, as registered keeper: he is required to complete and return to the police. He is not permitted to delegate to another.
In the meantime, the police receive the form with the information recorded by the client’s partner. The police write again to the client repeating their request for the information required by the form. Had the client received the form himself it would have been a simple case of him casting his mind back to the time/date in question and asking himself “was I driving and if not, who was?”
Of course, we know his partner was driving as she had attempted to comply with the request (in a fashion) by confirming that she was the driver. But in reality, the client never got a chance to provide the information as per the form and thereafter the police, correctly, regarded the lack of correct following-of-procedure by him as a failure to provide information.
Here the tale takes a further twist: as a result of his failure to provide the information, client was summonsed to attend court. Here again, the client’s wife attempted to rescue the situation and liaised with the police. She was told that it was too late as the case had been referred to court.
At this time, the client is still blissfully unaware that he has a case or that it has now moved forward and hit the court system. Things get even worse when client later discovers that the case had in fact been listed in court and proved in absence! The court writes to client confirming the disqualification: at this point, client’s partner thinks she should own up to the consequences of her unfortunate, misguided efforts. She tells her partner.
Client instructs us at this point to try and unpick the problem that he finds himself in.
As a driver who has been disqualified in absence and unwittingly driving, client ran the risk of being prosecuted for driving whilst disqualified/no insurance. An urgent application for a Statutory Declaration needed to be made. Unfortunately, the court system isn’t always very good at appreciating the immediacy of peoples’ problems but thanks to our dogged persistence, we were able to persuade the court (on the Friday afternoon) to list the client’s case on the following Monday afternoon (the court had originally offered a slot in about 2 weeks…)
A successful Statutory Declaration put client back in the original position of facing a ‘s172 Fail to Provide Information’ prosecution. His case was then listed for review. We made robust representations to the police regarding the unusual history of this case and how our client was always unaware of the original request for the information, suggesting that the case shouldn’t be prosecuted. The police took on board our representations and agreed to stop the prosecution. Our client (and his relieved partner) were very happy.
This case shows how road traffic law can be over-simplified and how trying to use common sense is not enough to avoid prosecution.
For cost-effective, expert advice contact Jonathan Stirland at Short Richardson & Forth Jonathan.firstname.lastname@example.org – see www.srflegal.co.uk