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coffee pot
I passed a camera van on 10 Sept 2017. I received an NIP within a couple of days and replied to that with a letter of explanation clearly identifying myself as the driver. I heard nothing more until I received a letter dated 26 March 2018 with a summons for exceeding the speed limit and a contravention of S172 - not identifying the driver. Unfortunately I was away over Easter and only opened it on my return. They also enclosed a copy of my letter, so I know it was received. There are several questions arising from this, but the first one I would appreciate thoughts on are the period of time that has elapsed is it is over 6 months from the alleged offence to the letter being sent to me - and thus presumably before notifying a Court. Is this still valid?
Pete D
What exactly did you put in the letter. ?
What date was the information laid for the summons. Pete D
coffee pot
Thank you - I don't want to focus on the letter at this stage, just the timing. This isn't an area I have ever been involved with before. Where do I find the date it was laid for the summons (and indeed what does that mean?)
Jlc
A s172 offence doesn't occur at the same date of the underlying allegation. It's roughly 1 month after - so the contents of the letter do seem to be of primary importance.
notmeatloaf
As Pete D says normally this happens when you make an equivocal driver nomination, e.g. you think it is likely it was X, or you are not sure if it was X or Y.

The issue you have is that the six months for the speeding is irrelevant to all intents and purposes because the S172 offence would have been committed 28 days + two business days after the issue of the NIP, so at least a month after the offence. The speeding offence may be out of time but it is to your benefit it being there.

With both offences you can turn up in court on the day and ask the usher to speak to the traffic prosecutor. If you offer to plead guilty to the speeding in exchange for dropping the much more serious S172 they are very very likely to agree.

If you would otherwise have got a fixed penalty you can then ask the magistrates to consider sentencing at fixed penalty levels, which they have the discretion to do in their sentencing guidelines if the fixed penalty wasn't taken up for reasons unconnected to the offence. This would most likely leave you with £100 fine + £85 costs + £30 victims surcharge plus of course wasting some of your day.

It is annoying you have been disadvantaged by administrative problems along the line but a plea bargain as above is likely to be the best route available short of a defence to the speeding offence. You can no longer get a speed awareness course at this stage.

The Rookie
The failing to identify offence couldn’t have occurred until at least the 9th October, probably later, so they are wishin the six months.

What you put in that letter determines whether you committed the offence or not, generally letters are a bad idea unless you know what you are doing as they often do not comply with the requirements of S172.
Jlc
QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 12:44) *
...with a letter of explanation clearly identifying myself as the driver.

Do you use their form? Did your letter supply the necessary details and was signed?
andy_foster
QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 12:44) *
I received a letter dated 26 March 2018 with a summons for exceeding the speed limit and a contravention of S172 - not identifying the driver.



QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 13:01) *
Thank you - I don't want to focus on the letter at this stage, just the timing.


If you want people to give up their own time providing free legal advice on your case one issue at a time, perhaps you could start by giving us the relevant facts, not making stuff up - assuming of course that you have not actually received a summons.
coffee pot
The letter had the date, my name, my address and my signature and stated I was driving. There was no reply to it or any other communication from them until the summons.
Jlc
What was the speed/limit alleged?

QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 13:24) *
There was no reply to it or any other communication from them until the summons.

You did not think to check with them at a later date?
southpaw82
Is it a summons, or is it a requisition or single justice procedure notice?
The Rookie
As the letter was clearly received, they’ve either made a right Horlicks of it or it’s not quite as you say it is, it’s exact content is fairly important if you want the right advice, your choice.

As noted above it’s all but certain you don’t have a summons, so would you like to tell us what you actually have (a summons is a specific legal document as well as a generic description, I presume you are using the generic description for something other than a summons but which has a similar purpose).

To add to SP’s list a citation if you are north of the border.
Jlc
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 13:31) *
As the letter was clearly received

Just noticed that in the opening post. If they have included a copy then it would seem deficient if they are pursuing the s172. But we can only guess at the moment.
coffee pot
I regret I don't have their letter to hand right now, but from memory it is headed something like single justice or joint procedure. My letter contains details that are not relevant to this discussion and I will not be disclosing, so please do not continue to ask about it. Be assured there is a lot of helpful information you have kindly given already. Should I ring to talk to them?
peterguk
QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 13:49) *
My letter contains details that are not relevant to this discussion and I will not be disclosing,



Simple question - did you unequivocally name yourself as the driver? That is all the letter had to say.

As stated already, either you added unnecessary detail that suggested you might not have been the driver, or they have made a major mess up.
coffee pot
Yes. Someone did ask if I returned the form they sent - no, I did not.
Jlc
QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 14:08) *
Yes. Someone did ask if I returned the form they sent - no, I did not.

So if you unequivocally named the driver then you do not appear to be guilty of the s172 offence. Using their form is not required - See Jones v DPP.

That leaves the speeding. The 6 months limit might come into play.

QUOTE (notmeatloaf @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 14:09) *
IMO the OP is right not to detail the letter. It is irrelevant to a plea bargain unless the letter is so incendiary the prosecutor decides to prove a point and pursue the S172.

Plea bargain? If the letter is sufficient to meet the obligations of naming the driver then what's to bargain? We don't need to the exact contents but as Peter has asked, was it 100% unequivocal.
ford poplar
If OP wants our free advice he can provide the suitably redacted letter or pay a Solicitor for their advice with client confidentialilty.
At the moment, we do not know if both charges have been laid or whether a plea bargain is possible.
NewJudge
You have the answer to the timing issue (Posts #4 and #5). If you want advice regarding what to do next (i.e. whether to try to defend the S172 allegation, or the speeding, or both or try to do the deal outlined) then I would suggest the contents of the letter are very relevant. Your response was clearly received (non-receipt being very often the cause of situations such as you find yourself in). What you wrote may well hold the key to why the police have proceeded directly to court action for S172 and it may also have an impact on whether the deal mentioned is likely to succeed.

If you really want advice to be given privately then it looks like you've gone as far as you can here.
Jlc
QUOTE (ford poplar @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 14:35) *
At the moment, we do not know if both charges have been laid

Yes we do: (my emphasis)

QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 12:44) *
...a summons for exceeding the speed limit and a contravention of S172

The Rookie
QUOTE (notmeatloaf @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 14:09) *
IMO the OP is right not to detail the letter. It is irrelevant to a plea bargain unless the letter is so incendiary the prosecutor decides to prove a point and pursue the S172.

We have seen plenty of times that police trawl these forums if only to imply that by asking for advice it somehow discredits the poster. Why give them that information simply to satisfy the idle curiosity of those on here.

Ignoring that if the letter is completely satisfactory as an S172 reply it leaves the possibility (not certainty) open to a successful defence to both charges?
coffee pot
QUOTE (NewJudge @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 14:35) *
You have the answer to the timing issue (Posts #4 and #5). If you want advice regarding what to do next (i.e. whether to try to defend the S172 allegation, or the speeding, or both or try to do the deal outlined) then I would suggest the contents of the letter are very relevant. Your response was clearly received (non-receipt being very often the cause of situations such as you find yourself in). What you wrote may well hold the key to why the police have proceeded directly to court action for S172 and it may also have an impact on whether the deal mentioned is likely to succeed.

If you really want advice to be given privately then it looks like you've gone as far as you can here.



No, the letter was not at all incendiary - just the opposite as I try to be a polite and controlled person (and driver) but mentioned specific circumstances that are not relevant to the question I have asked for help with. The steer here appears to be that I need to talk to a solicitor with expertise in this field. Can I thank everyone who has responded for the speed and variety of responses - I do appreciate that, and that the advice is free and has been sensible and helpful.
notmeatloaf
Incendiary in this instance is something like "I'm not sure the time is correct but I was driving an hour later so that's who I've named" rather than "You're all a bunch of ****ing ****s and will be first against the wall when the revolution comes".
coffee pot
I don't think so, but even so, even if the letter is disparaging to the Police or whomever, it hardly counts as a reason to issue and even more pertinently secure a prosecution under this S172? I think most people would consider that a remarkable miscarriage of justice. I was driving, I said I was driving and given details that identify me.
notmeatloaf
The thing is that, as has been said, it is not enough to give details of the driver. You need to unequivocally name the driver, which is is why it is usually advisable to use their form.

Anything you said in the rest of your letter which implied you were unsure leaves you open to S172. The normal procedure, as you have possibly found out, is that the police leave it to the courts to decide whether it was a compliant S172 nomination.

There is no miscarriage of justice because you have not been convicted of anything yet, and it seems incredibly unlikely that it was a malicious prosecution as, by your own admission, you sent in a non-standard response the the S172.

As I have already said the option is there very easily to revert to only the speeding offence if you wish. Indeed that is the only sensible course of action unless the speeding offence is definitely out of time, which hasn't been established but again is unlikely.
Jlc
Was the letter (nomination) returned within the 28 days?
coffee pot
Yes; I replied 5 days later. I give the relevant dates in the original post, and the time course is more than 6 months; 197 days, or more than 28 weeks. It is clear from my letter I was driving.
southpaw82
QUOTE (notmeatloaf @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 15:05) *
There is a reason solicitors often advise no comment.


Unlikely in these circumstances though.

QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 15:41) *
Yes; I replied 5 days later. I give the relevant dates in the original post, and the time course is more than 6 months; 197 days, or more than 28 weeks. It is clear from my letter I was driving.

So, if you believe you have a defence to both charges plead not guilty to both.
peterguk
QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 15:41) *
Yes; I replied 5 days later.


In which case the issue lies with what else you chose to add (that was not asked for nor required) in your letter or a massive mess up.

Do come back with the outcome.
TonyS
Is it certain that the speeding is out of time?
Jlc
QUOTE (TonyS @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 16:11) *
Is it certain that the speeding is out of time?

No.
cp8759
QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 15:09) *
No, the letter was not at all incendiary - just the opposite as I try to be a polite and controlled person (and driver) but mentioned specific circumstances that are not relevant to the question I have asked for help with. The steer here appears to be that I need to talk to a solicitor with expertise in this field. Can I thank everyone who has responded for the speed and variety of responses - I do appreciate that, and that the advice is free and has been sensible and helpful.

If you post a copy on here (with personal details redacted), we can probably give you some more meaningful advice.
coffee pot
QUOTE (Jlc @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 16:12) *
QUOTE (TonyS @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 16:11) *
Is it certain that the speeding is out of time?

No.

May I ask why you say that?
The Rookie
Because it isn’t certain, while there is a legal opinion it I could be, the courts in cases we are aware of having taken an alternative reading of the statute and say they are not.

On that basis it can’t be said to be certain it is out of time.
NewJudge
QUOTE (coffee pot @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 16:42) *
QUOTE (Jlc @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 16:12) *
QUOTE (TonyS @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 16:11) *
Is it certain that the speeding is out of time?

No.

May I ask why you say that?


Under the Single Justice Procedure (SJP - which seems likely to have been used in your case) a written charge and SJP notice must be with the court within six months. The SJP legislation is silent on when those documents have to be with the accused. There is some legal argument going on which seeks to clarify this but at present it is not resolved. You only know when you received the notification of the proceedings. You do not know (or at least have not said that you know) when the relevant court received that notification. Only if the court received them beyond 10th March may you have a case for the speeding matter to be "out of time". I hope I haven't missed it but you have not said the what the issue date is on the SJP notice. That might be a good place to start.
The Rookie
With the court within six months? I thought the statute only mentions issuing which is clearly not with the court?
cp8759
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Sun, 8 Apr 2018 - 21:48) *
With the court within six months? I thought the statute only mentions issuing which is clearly not with the court?

Without looking at authority and on a fairly standard statutory construction, reading section 30(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003:" any reference (however expressed) which is or includes a reference to an information within the meaning of section 1 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (c. 43) (or to the laying of such an information) is to be read as including a reference to a written charge (or to the issue of a written charge),"; and section 127(1) of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980: "Except as otherwise expressly provided by any enactment and subject to subsection (2) below, a magistrates’ court shall not try an information or hear a complaint unless the information was laid, or the complaint made, within 6 months from the time when the offence was committed, or the matter of complaint arose.", the only sensible interpretation I can see is that the written charge must be issued within six months from the time when the offence was committed.
The Rookie
Were talking charge certificates though not information being laid?
NewJudge
Surely whatever method is being used, the court must be informed of the proposed action within six months mustn't it? If not, a SJPN and written charge can be "issued" (i.e. produced or printed or whatever) within six months, left in a drawer for a few more months and then sent to the court.
Jlc
See this live thread.

Also see here. (Particularly the Wirral Magistrates' Court)

And finally, this case, it's the one I referred to earlier where the OP lost at court.
The Rookie
QUOTE (NewJudge @ Mon, 9 Apr 2018 - 09:20) *
Surely whatever method is being used, the court must be informed of the proposed action within six months mustn't it?

The Criminal Procedure Rules 2015
QUOTE
(b)an authorised prosecutor must issue a written charge, not more than 6 months after the offence alleged.

It doesn't look like it. (my emphasis).
cp8759
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 9 Apr 2018 - 05:24) *
Were talking charge certificates though not information being laid?

I refer you to section 30(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003:" any reference (however expressed) which is or includes a reference to an information within the meaning of section 1 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (c. 43) (or to the laying of such an information) is to be read as including a reference to a written charge (or to the issue of a written charge),"
The Rookie
Indeed and that confirms it as issue not laid?
cp8759
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 9 Apr 2018 - 11:54) *
Indeed and that confirms it as issue not laid?

Yes, so as long as it was issued within six months, it's not out of time.
NewJudge
Thanks for the added info.

I'm sure DJ Abselon examined all the relevant legislation carefully when he reached his decision. That being the case it seems to me that, as the legislation stands, there is nothing to prevent a prosecutor "issuing" the documents required under a SJP but then doing nothing with them until he feels like it. It seems he need not serve those documents either on the accused or on the court. All he needs to do is to "issue" them (whatever that might mean). This puts a prosecutor using the SJP at a considerable advantage over those using the "traditional" method, where an information has to be laid with the court within six months.
cp8759
QUOTE (NewJudge @ Mon, 9 Apr 2018 - 12:12) *
Thanks for the added info.

I'm sure DJ Abselon examined all the relevant legislation carefully when he reached his decision. That being the case it seems to me that, as the legislation stands, there is nothing to prevent a prosecutor "issuing" the documents required under a SJP but then doing nothing with them until he feels like it. It seems he need not serve those documents either on the accused or on the court. All he needs to do is to "issue" them (whatever that might mean). This puts a prosecutor using the SJP at a considerable advantage over those using the "traditional" method, where an information has to be laid with the court within six months.

Up to a point. It has been held that if the prosecutor obtains a summons before he has decided whether he's actually going to prosecute or not, that is an abuse of process. So unlike in civil cases, where you can issue protective proceedings to stop time running out under the Limitation Act 1980, you can't get a summons in a criminal case just in case you decide to go ahead. Also if the delay is very significant that might itself amount to a good reason for the court to grant a stay, either because a fair trial is no longer possible, or because the delay caused by the prosecutor amounts to an abuse of process; however for that line of argument to work the delay would have to be years rather than months.
NewJudge
Thanks for that additional explanation, cp.

I wasn't thinking of the circumstances where a "protective" SJPN might be issued but rather where a definite decision to prosecute has been taken but the prosecutor has been somewhat negligent in getting matters moving. It seems to me that a coach and horses has been driven through the six-month rule because there is no deadline for prosecutors to make their intentions known to the court. Under the traditional route an information laid beyond six months (whenever it may have been "issued") renders the prosecution out of time. But it seems there is no equivalent barrier under the SJP. I know there is no point in prosecutors delaying a prosecution for any longer than is necessary but there seems no protection for the accused. He should be able to expect that if no action is laid with the court within six months then no action is possible.
cp8759
Well you could argue this at infinitum, on one hand you can say that the courts should give a purposive interpretation to the legislation, and read into the statue words to the effect that the court must be informed of the proceedings within six months, on the other hand knowledge of all laws is imputed on everyone, so you could argue that the accused is deemed to know about section 30(5)(b) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, and the legislation should be strictly constructed based on the plain meaning of its words. What approach the wise and learned judges of the High Court will take is impossible to predict with certainty.

However the key issue for me is this: As I understand it, the written charge & requisition / SJPN is transmitted to the court immediately when it is issued, or in any event on the day it is issued, and the prosecutor can access the court's diary for this purpose. If this wasn't the case, how would the prosecutor know that on such and such a day there's time in the court diary? how could the court avoid over-bookings for the day if the information wasn't sent to the court immediately? You could end up with a whole bunch of public prosecutors overbooking for the same hearing, plus one or more private prosecutions also obtaining summonses for the same hearing (as the clerk who issues summonses wouldn't at that point know that public prosecutors have issued a bunch of requisitions for the same hearing), the magistrates' courts would be even more chaotic than they already are.

If I am correct (I'm waiting to get definitive confirmation), the whole issue is entirely academic as the written charge is always sent to the court immediately, probably before it is even printed off.
NewJudge
Thanks again, cp, in particular for this (of which I was not aware):

QUOTE
As I understand it, the written charge & requisition / SJPN is transmitted to the court immediately when it is issued, or in any event on the day it is issued,...

If I am correct (I'm waiting to get definitive confirmation), the whole issue is entirely academic as the written charge is always sent to the court immediately, probably before it is even printed off.


I was unaware of the mechanics involved and had visions of prosecutors with quill pens writing their SJPNs out before carefully blotting them, only then to drop them down the back of their desk to be discovered by the cleaner a few months later (or something like that) biggrin.gif

If the process works as you describe then the issue date is all that matters.
mrmk
I was to think it has to be issued to both the court and the defendant within 6 months otherwise they could slap it on the defendant literally a week before the hearing, giving them only a week to find £1k+ for legal representation or to go in unprepared whereas they would've had months to prepare - unfair isn't it?
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