Court Summons/Postal Requisition

Where you have rejected a Fixed Penalty Notice; are facing the possibility of a “totting” disqualification or the police take the view that the allegation should go to court, then a speeding or other summons will be issued against you. A summons is exactly that; a document summoning you to court to face a criminal allegation.

You may think that to describe a speeding or due care allegation as a criminal allegation is an exaggeration but you would be wrong because that is exactly what it is!

In the overwhelming majority of speeding and other cases, the police must begin proceedings against you within 6 months of the alleged offence. When you receive the speeding, etc., summons you will most frequently have 3 choices:

(i) Tell the court you will plead guilty but attend anyway and mitigate on you own behalf;

(ii) Plead guilty and ask the court to sentence you in your absence &

(iii) Plead not guilty, in which case the matter will be adjourned for trial on a date convenient for you.

In all 3 cases you may, if you wish, deal with the matter yourself and not instruct a lawyer. However, road traffic law is one of the most complicated areas of the criminal law. I have frequently seen senior lawyers struggle with speeding and similar road traffic matters because there are few who specialise in this area of law. The reality is that unless a solicitor or barrister regularly practices in the magistrates’ court, he/she will have little exposure to the majority of such cases.

Error in the summons:

When you first receive the summons (or Postal Requisition) it is often the case that there may be some error perhaps concerning the type of vehicle involved or, say, the exact location of the speeding incident. Please don’t think you have a “loophole” defence because you don’t. In any event, at court, all the prosecuting solicitor has to do is to apply to amend the speeding summons: these requests are usually granted. If the court believes you may have been caused difficulty, then you may be given an adjournment to prepare yourself properly. However, although such prosecution errors may not lead to a speeding “loophole defence”, they can be used by a defence lawyer to cast doubt upon the prosecution case. It all depends upon the nature and extent of the error.

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