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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Monday, 27 June 2016


Exceptional hardship applications  always initiated a lively discussion especially when all bench participants were experienced in such matters.  New colleagues generally found  such discussions a very good learning experience.  As the case of Cornwall v Coke 1976 Crim L.R 519 makes clear the Courts have a duty to assess the implications of a disqualification upon persons other than the defendant, bearing in mind that such persons are effectively innocent and will be punished irrespective of this. Financial implications were often put forward to substantiate many applications.  Other common arguments on an offender`s behalf were the effect of a driving ban on the health of close relatives who relied upon him/her for eg transportation for medical reasons or the  disruption to the routine of a child.  One argument I never heard was that an ability to undertake voluntary work would be curtailed. The very term itself seems to preclude such work being a just reason for allowing the argument.  Magistrates in Wiltshire thought otherwise.  IMHO considering the offender`s history I think they were generous. Their decision, however, is a reminder that there are still areas within the capacity of the magistrates` courts` system that cannot be prescribed by the Sentencing Council and its tick box approach to justice.

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