Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.

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Friday, 14 November 2014


It never fails to amaze how many people feel that if they ignore official communications somehow they will go away and the tidings within will be forever unable to come back and hit them where it hurts.  So it is with much of the process at motoring courts.  We had five s.172s.  One defendant managed to convince us that he had indeed returned the form with the errant driver named only for the recipient police department to deny receipt.  One might consider that the boot was well and truly on the other foot. One other had sufficient evidence that he was not in a position to have received the notice to nominate.  The remaining defendants had, for a variety of reasons, failed to persuade us that they had not received their s.172 forms and were duly convicted one of whom with six penalty points already on her license was immediately made subject to six months disqualification her legal advisor assisted plea of exceptional hardship falling far short of any reasonable hurdle.   We also had an ambulance driver before us for driving the wrong way in a "one way" street.  This is virtually a strict liability offence and although he was on an emergency run to a hospital we had to convict him after persuading him that his defence was not tenable.  I blogged on this topic last year. After explaining the situation to him we gave him an absolute discharge and no costs but the atrocious so called "victims` surcharge" had to be paid.   Being in an area where there are large numbers of immigrants from the E.U. the problem imposed on our courts a year or two ago by a European Directive  that such license holders did not have to convert to a U.K. license is a regular occurrence.  We just do not know their driving history.  I suppose it could be worse; if we don`t know they could be  convicted murderers when they arrive here what difference in reality would a conviction or two for careless or dangerous driving make?


  1. I may be out of date, but the CJA2003 S161A(4) says "For the purposes of this section a court does not “deal with” a person if it—
    (a)discharges him absolutely"

    And thus does not impose the surcharge.

    1. Not out of date at all. To reinforce the point, the surcharge provisions of CJA 2003 s.161A are given effect by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Surcharge) Order 2012 (as amended) that plainly excludes absolute discharges. Seems to me that the case of the ambulance driver has been unlawfully determined and will have to be re-opened,

  2. For your EU drivers you do know their UK driving record (as you would for a UK driver - where you will also be unaware of any offences they commit outside the UK) - because DVLA hosts a driver record for them even without a license, just as it does for the small number of UK drivers who never get round to applying for a license!

  3. Never mind EU "licenses". In this country we have licences. Licence is the noun, license is the verb. Just like advice (n) and advise (v).
    I do love pedantry, don't you?