The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Register Your Car - Or Else!

I have grumbled before about the torrent of new legislation and procedure that has come close to overwhelming courts faced with making it all work. So much law has been hurriedly passed that the highest judges in the land have had to apply themselves urgently to make sense of it.

At the end of last year the first cases were heard by magistrates under the new continuous registration legislation, designed to ensure that all cars are either registered or subject to a SORN declaration that they are off the road. This legislation requires magistrates to impose a minimum penalty of £1,000 on those who have neither renewed their excise licence nor made an SORN declaration. This was fixed in the 2003 Finance Act and slipped through, unnoticed by the Department for Constitutional Affairs, the Justices' Clerks' Society and the Magistrates' Association. Magistrates are given no discretion and do not have the power to take account of the defendant's means, which runs contrary to one of the basic principles of sentencing, and indeed of justice.

The Mags' Association has approached the DVLA and they have agreed to use the legislation only in 'exceptional circumstances'. No cases have been brought since last year.

So an unjust law is in force, and the enforcing authority has graciously consented not to use it!

What a shambles.