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.




Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Monday, 18 April 2016

THIS BENCH SEEMS TO CONSIDER THAT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

Premiership footballers who appear in court on whatever level of offending must expect the procedings and outcomes to be of public interest.  It might be the case that such intrusion would be much diminshed  if,  as fifty years ago, they were being paid around the average workman`s wage, but when their average  wage is £44,000 weekly media interest is par for the course. Driving offences attract intrusion like no others because the majority of us are drivers and we can relate outcomes to our own incomes. Unlike in Switzerland where exceedingly wealthy individuals flouting traffic regulations eg speeding, can have enormous fines imposed this country has a laudable principle of fines according to means. Driving not in accordance with a license is a Level 3 offence [£1,000 maximum] with 3-6 penalty points imposed with a fine of half a week`s wages.  

Papiss Cisse who plays for Newcastle United  was recently in court where he pleaded  guilty to [I presume] driving not in accordance with a license aggravated by other offences. He was fined £220 and with other fines and costs  left the court £547 poorer not forgetting 4 penalty points.  Perhaps somebody can explain why the bench did not fine him £666 for the offence and increase the number of points handed out.

My time on the bench never involved me in any matter dealing with a multi millionaire sporting personality but had I been I would have sought to make a case for the highest financial penalty to have been imposed within the law and within a structured argument for that decision. For that bench to apparently not to have done so is a matter of regret.  For the many thousands in the local area it will have brought the magistracy into disrepute.  It demonstrates that equality before the law is limited by the appearance of some being more equal than others.

4 comments:

  1. Couldn't have put it better myself. What was the bench thinking? And when the locals see how much the fine was the cry in the pub will be 'Whaaaat'? If we don't understand it what will the locals make of it?

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  2. From my perspective the Bench was following the guidelines, and had it not, it would have had to give its reasons.
    "Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence" attracts 3-6 points; presumably after mitigation and a guilty plea (the CPS costs reflect a guilty plea, not trial costs) the Bench decided on 4. There were three charges of this offence, and points would normally only be given on one of them.

    None of the offences were about his standard of driving, they were all technical and all four attracted Band A fines, so £444 in fines after a one-third discount for the guilty pleas points towards a weekly income of £1000 taking into account proportionality for the offences and not fining him three times over for the same offence.

    You are suggesting that the Bench should have been penalising him for having the temerity to be a celebrity; that, in MHO, would be bringing the magistracy into disrepute.

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  3. I regrettably have to agree with Jaguar. What was there about the OFFENCE (not the OFFENDER) that puts it at the maximum level? I'm not saying that it doesn't appear unjust, but castigating this bench for following the guidelines and, no doubt, pointers from their Legal Adviser, is not worthy of a JP of your obvious experience.

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  4. Well, Jaguar, a Band A midpoint fine is 50% of weekly income (25% - 75% range) so that would be £22,000; 1/3rd off for early guilty plea makes it about £14,000 thank you very much. Not that he could be fined that much as the £1,000 maximum overrides the principle. I agree with writer - should have been nearer the top.

    Maximum levels disproportionately benefit the well off. I have an income about 125 times less than this gentleman. Were I to be fined for a similar offence I would likely attract a fine of £125 plus surcharge and costs, so probably total about £240. His total penalty is less than 3 times mine despite earning 125 times more; even at maximum level 3 fine it would not be much more proportionate!

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