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, September 17, 2007

Luck or Justice?

I have never seen a case arising from the notorious S172 notices, which are the ones that require the registered keeper of a vehicle to say who was driving it at a particular time, usually as it passed a speed camera. Last week, I was surprised to see an S172 on my printed list, set down for trial after lunch, and I looked forward to a new bit of law.
We went into court, and the smartly dressed defendant was identified. Our usually-bouncy Crown prosecutor heaved himself to his feet and his demeanour suggested that on this occasion, this bunny was not happy. I will spare you the verbiage, but what he had to tell us was that the CPS had failed to get the case papers into his hands -this for a case that had been adjourned for trial four months ago. The defendant was unrepresented, so I asked him if he had any comment on the CPS' application, and whether he was ready to go ahead with the trial.
We refused the adjournment, and the prosecutor bowed to the inevitable and offered no evidence. We dismissed the charge, and the defendant left, taking with him my chance to hear a good old S172 fight.
That's the adversarial system for you. If the Crown, with all its resources, cannot get an A4 file into the right court on the right day then the bench has a duty to bin the case. Which is what we did.