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Second Exceptional Hardship Application

second exceptional hardship application

 

Second Exceptional Hardship Application

 

I was recently very involved in the case of a client charged with speeding – 78mph in a 70mph limit on a motorway.

 

Unfortunately due to him already having points on his licence he fell to be disqualified for 6 months as a totter. To complicate matters he had previously been in the same situation within the past 3 years and had already made an Exceptional Hardship application at that time. The law states that a person cannot make more than one application to the court using the same grounds within a 3 year period… and my client required a second Exceptional Hardship application.

 

His previous application was based upon the impact the loss of licence would have on his employment – and as a Sales Director required to manage a UK wide team this was certainly the strongest grounds he had.  But this did mean that this was not something I could use for his second Exceptional Hardship application.

 

I started my case preparation by applying to the courts for the full note of the previous hearing.  I needed to ensure that I was funny appraised of the court’s sentencing statement and of the evidence put before them.  Knowing we needed not to rely on the most commonly used foundations posed a different sort of challenge, to find new grounds for this second Exceptional Hardship application.

 

As lawyers, we are privy to a great deal of personal, and in many ways, highly sensitive, information.  For any Exceptional Hardship Application this will usually involve a client’s financial position, their relationships with their family and friends, their employment status.  I can’t explain the feeling exactly, but it’s certainly one of trust, especially in this particular case.

 

From speaking with my client it became clear that the loss of his licence would have most impact on his family life. He would need to stay away from home more often, he would be unavailable to assist his fiancé with the day to day matters and, most importantly, he would be unable to assist her in the event of a medical emergency. This may not sound like much, how often is an emergency really going to occur? But for this family, with the past few years they had experienced health wise, this was a real concern.  I spent a lot of time speaking with my client and his fiancé, getting to know them, and I felt very privileged to have them speak so openly with me about their lives.

 

We obtained medical documentation detailing her illness to support his need for his licence, and we provided detailed diaries for both of them, trying to cover all angles possible for his second Exceptional Hardship application.  Our client was represented in court by one of our expert Barristers from our London chambers, Emma Shafton, who put their case to the court and guided them both through their testimony.

 

Unfortunately the court, whilst finding that there would be hardship, did not believe the obstacles to be insurmountable. They found that the client’s financial position suggested that in the case of an emergency that funds would be available to ensure that he was able to be with her.  They were however swayed by the case put to them and sentenced our client to 6 months disqualification when the law suggested a 12 month disqualification as a second ‘totting’ situation within three years.

 

Our client attended court knowing that it was not the strongest of applications but wanting to try and needing to know that he had tried, that they had tried. They left the court, disappointed but not unhappy, they were ready to start moving forward with their lives, which did include their wedding just a few days later!

 

At Forrest Williams we tailor each case preparation plan to each client. We do not have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. If you are due in court and facing a disqualification then give the Forrest Williams team a call. We promise to listen to you and to treat you as the individual you are and to work with you to ensure that the courts see you and not just the offence.

 

A Six Month Driving Ban… Because I Didn’t Receive A Letter?!

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams

 

A Six Month Driving Ban… Because I Didn’t Receive A Letter?!

 

What happens when you don’t receive your mail? What happens when you don’t receive an important letter from the police and because of that you cannot reply to it?

 

That’s exactly what happened to a client I had in Feltham Magistrates Court last week. He is a respected businessman, owning and managing a small business. Familiar with completing paperwork and complying with timescales; the paperwork, the formalities of a court summons didn’t phase him, even the prospect of attending court wasn’t an issue to him. What bothered him was that this was a minor speeding offence, 35/30, 3 points, £100 fine or even a Speed Awareness Course had the police offered him it – but because he did not receive the forms to be able to return them he was now facing something much more serious – a charge of Failing to Disclose Drivers Details, the penalties for which are 6 points, a fine of up to £1000 plus court costs.

 

And, even though his licence was now clean, because at the time of the speeding offence he already had points on his licence, he was also facing a six month driving ban!

 

Yes, a six month driving ban.  Because he didn’t receive his post.

 

Seems unfair doesn’t it?

 

We talked with our client, and he clearly didn’t want to fight the speeding offence. He accepted it was him driving. Because of his work he was able to identify the journey and could confidently say it was him. He just wanted the opportunity to accept what he would have done had the Notice of Intended Prosecution reached him.

 

Not receiving the form is a valid defence to the charge of Failure to Disclose Drivers Details. From speaking with our client we knew this was not a one time issue.  With five houses with very similar names in the area, misdirected post was a common occurrence – his neighbours were even willing to provide evidence to the court of this. But our client didn’t really want to go through the traumatic experience of a trial.  So, instead, we liaised with the prosecution to persuade them to alter the charge laid against our client, to reinstate the original speeding offence and drop the Failure to Disclose offence.

 

The issue we faced is that due to the time elapsed since the date of offence the prosecution were outside the six month timescale normally associated with a speeding matter so needed to show that there were grounds for our client’s case to be considered as exceptional to that rule. The Prosecution are very busy, and tend to deal with cases in date order, so it is not unusual for us to have to chase for a response numerous times.  To ensure our client’s position was protected we fully prepared his case for trial and also prepared an Exceptional Hardship application as a further back up to help our client avoid a six month driving ban.

 

Just days before the trial the prosecution agreed to drop the Failure to Disclose charge. Our client attended court and was supported by one of our expert Barristers who put his case to the court. He was ordered to pay £100 in total costs and 3 penalty points were applied to his licence, allowing him to receive the penalty he would have had he received the Notice of Intended Prosecution in the first place.

 

At Forrest Williams we know that there is not a ‘right’ result for everybody. We will listen and we will structure a case plan that will work for your needs.  If you are due in court for any reason then give the Forrest Williams team a call on 01623 600645 and we will be happy to help.

 

Exceptional Hardship Successful for Lighting Engineer

Exceptional Hardship Successful

 

Exceptional Hardship Successful for Lighting Engineer

 

Jaden Miller attended Mansfield Magistrates’ Court this week with Steve Williams, Senior Solicitor of law firm Forrest Williams, to answer his speeding charge.

 

Unfortunately, Jaden’s speeding charge – 49mph in a 40mph limit – was made much more serious by the fact that, at the time of the offence, he had 9 points on his driving licence.

 

Although 49mph in a 40mph would ordinarily be treated as a fixed penalty (i.e. 3 points and a £100 fine), when a person ‘tots up’ to 12 (or more) penalty points, they automatically fall to be disqualified from driving for a period of 6 months unless they can conduct a successful Exceptional Hardship application.

 

For Jaden, preparation of his case for court had centred on the fact that he works as a Lighting Engineer and has to travel across the whole of the UK, Ireland and France for business.

 

In addition, he is a married man with 2 children and is the breadwinner for his family. His wife, although working, has part time hours so could not meet the family’s total financial commitments on her wage alone.

 

Jaden also acts as the driver for his disabled mother, taking her shopping and to hospital appointments, etc.

 

Jaden worked closely with his case worker as they constructed the strongest possible application prior to the hearing.

 

Then, on the day of the hearing, Steve Williams advanced mitigation and conducted the Exceptional Hardship application with confidence, as is always the case given his 25+ years of experience within the legal sector.

 

Within moments, the decision was made: Exceptional Hardship successful!

 

Jaden thanked everyone involved in the preparation of his case and Steve particularly for his compelling advocacy within the court room. 

 

If you need to avoid a totting up ban, call our expert team now on 01623 600645.

 

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