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.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Wish They Wouldn't Do It

We recently had a man in on a charge of drive disqualified, plus the usual no insurance. The problem was that he had been disqualified as a totter just three days before he was stopped, and claimed to have no knowledge of it because the court concerned had disqualified him in his absence. Given the vagaries of the postal system, there was no way we could be sure that he had received the letter of notification. We adjourned the case, but the clerk later said that he had no defence to the charge, merely mitigation.
Being disqualified has serious consequences, including the immediate invalidation of the insurance on any vehicle, and if he was legitimately driving someone else's vehicle its owner's interests would be seriously prejudiced, as would those of any third party he might injure.
Some clerks and many administrators want disqual. in absence to become routine, mainly because it is quicker and cheaper than adjourning to get the defendant in, on a warrant if needs be. I won't do it, because it is unfair and potentially unjust, especially as the machinery exists to get the defendant before the court where he can be properly warned about his ban.
To be fair, this fellow had previous for drive disqual, and he may well have known about the latest ban, but we have to be more certain than that before applying such a serious sanction.