Have you received a summons or notice of intended prosecution with the wrong name or incorrect details? If so, Keep Me on The Road can help – Call today for advice 0800 046 3066
- The Court must be asked to produce the summons within a 6 month period for minor offences
- Errors on the Court summons do not generally invalidate it
- Whether or not a prosecutor will be allowed to amend the details on the summons will very much depend on whether there is any prejudice caused to a defendant.
Minor motoring offences such as speeding, no insurance and red light offences are usually dealt with by way of a summons or postal plea. A notice will be sent to the alleged driver requiring them to attend Court or enter a plea by post or online.
Under S 127 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act, for these types of offences, the Court must be asked to produce the summons within 6 months period of the offence being committed or the offence coming to light and this will be recorded as the date of information. For most common motoring offences, if the information is not ‘laid’ within 6 months of the offence, it will be invalid and the prosecution cannot proceed.
If you need further advice, please call 0800 046 3066
A Court summons ought to properly outline the allegation including:
- The relevant legislation
- Identification of the alleged defendant
- Date of the offence
- Sufficient additional information to identify the particulars of the offence such as vehicle registration and offence location
It is not uncommon that on occasions, the summons will contain incorrect details. This can be a simple as a misspelling of the address to having the wrong person named completely. Errors on the Court summons do not generally invalidate it and the Court has a discretion to allow the prosecution to make minor amendments to a summons during the proceedings. There is slip rule under S123 Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 which states:
(1)No objection shall be allowed to any information or complaint, or to any summons or warrant to procure the presence of the defendant, for any defect in it in substance or in form, or for any variance between it and the evidence adduced on behalf of the prosecutor or complainant at the hearing of the information or complaint.
(2)If it appears to a magistrates’ court that any variance between a summons or warrant and the evidence adduced on behalf of the prosecutor or complainant is such that the defendant has been misled by the variance, the court shall, on the application of the defendant, adjourn the hearing.
Whether or not a prosecutor will be allowed to amend the details on the summons will very much depend on whether there is any prejudice caused to a defendant. If it is a technicality only and the defendant could quite clearly understand what has been alleged, a Court will normally allow the changes to be made. If there is prejudice, a defendant is more likely to be given an adjournment to prepare their case in light of the new information rather than have it withdrawn.
If a summons has been issued to the wrong person, the Court cannot change the name unless it is a matter where a number of alias are used by an individual. If the summons should be addressed to a second person, it must be withdrawn against the initial defendant and the prosecutor issue new proceedings entirely against the correct person. A typical scenario could involve a limited company and a director who has been wrongly summoned personally. If the six month time limit has passed, the prosecution cannot proceed in this way and no further prosecution can be brought.
If you would like further advice and assistance, call our knowledgeable team on 0800 046 3066
Under the Criminal Procedure Rules a summons is deemed to be correctly served if it sent first class post to an address where it can reasonably be expected to have been received. If the prosecution can show this, it allows the Court to proceed in a defendant’s absence. This causes many problems for drivers who have moved address and if a case has been dealt with in absence the case can sometimes be re-opened or a Statutory Declaration made, allowing the defendant to have the opportunity to take part in the Court process. A Statutory Declaration re starts the 6 month time limit.
If a summons has been returned to the Court by Royal Mail or the new occupant of the address, the Court can re-issue a summons to a new address provided by the prosecution, even if the six month time limit has passed. This is subject to the offence details (information) remaining unchanged.
Time limits and new offences
The six month time limit is fixed by law and the Court has no power to extend that. There are a small number of exceptions where the information must be laid before the court within 6 months of the offence being identified by the police. A special procedure applies and the time of knowledge must be certified by a senior officer.
There are often cases where the six month time limit has passed by the time a case reaches a Court hearing. On a strict interpretation of the legislation this would mean that it is impossible for the prosecution agree to pursue a less serious offence. A typical example is where a prosecution has been brought for failing to identify a driver, which carries 6 points, but the prosecution would be happy to substitute it for the lesser of offence of speeding which carries 3-6 points.
However, another slip rule allows the Court to be flexible in this approach. The case of R v Scunthorpe Justices clearly established that where there the new offence is based upon the same facts or substantially the same facts, as the new proposed offence, the Court does have power to consider the application. In the scenario outlined above, it could be argued that they don’t arise out of the same facts as one is in relation to driving, the other is in relation to failing to respond to a letter a month later. However, as it is usually a joint application of the prosecution and defendant driver, the Courts are generous in their interpretation of such.
If you have received a summons and you consider the summons could be incorrect; perhaps it is unclear precisely what the offence is, or the summons has been issued late, or maybe the wrong legislation has been applied, or simply the correct defendant does not appear on the summons.
If so, please contact one of our specialist road traffic lawyers for advice on 0800 046 3066. We are based in Nottingham but offer a nationwide service.