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Exceptional Hardship in Mansfield Magistrates Court

forrest williams solicitors - MTFC pitchside board @ 20x2.5ft

 

At Mansfield Magistrates’ Court this week, Etta Reynolds was delighted to avoid the automatic 6 month disqualification from driving that would have been the lawful consequence of her ‘totting up’ to 12 penalty points, had her Exceptional Hardship application not been successful.

 

She thanked Steve Williams, principal of Forrest Williams, and a leading criminal solicitor recognised in the prestigious Legal 500, and told him how the court’s recognition of her need to maintain her driving licence would mean that she could continue her work as a professional musician – a singer working in collaboration with a six piece band.

 

Etta had feared that a disqualification would impact not just on herself, but on all the people she worked with. She was well aware that the other band members relied on her not only to stand up front and lead their musical act, but also as one of only two possible drivers.

 

There was not, she explained to the court, the finances within the band’s earnings to pay for a driver, should she be disqualified. In addition, given the fickle nature of the profession she worked within, Etta knew that to not be involved in gigging for a period of 6 months would mean a great struggle to re-establish herself – if this was even possible.

 

There were also, Steve Williams explained to the court, personal reasons for Etta’s Exceptional Hardship application. Etta, a single parent with a young child, had child care and other costs to meet, which she would struggle to do if she was not earning.

 

In short, like so many of the clients who approach Forrest Williams for help, Etta’s main concerns were not for herself, but for those who would be adversely affected by her disqualification.

 

The court recognised these concerns and allowed Etta to keep her driving licence.

 

Another satisfied client who told us she would happily recommend us to other people – not least because of the level of support she had received throughout her case from her caseworker, Tracy Johnson, her advocate Steve Williams and all the friendly staff in the Forrest Williams office.  Exceptional Hardship in Mansfield Magistrates Court is our speciality – get the experts on side.

 

Forrest Williams are Mansfield’s only criminal law firm recognised in the prestigious Legal 500 rankings of leading law firm.  To get the local experts on your case, contact us now on 01623 600645.

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What is Exceptional Hardship? An Explanation of Totting Up

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams

 

What is Exceptional Hardship?

 

If you reach 12 or more points on your licence within a 3 year period then you will be called to court with the expected outcome that the court will disqualify you from driving for 6 months – the only way to avoid this is to argue what is called “Exceptional Hardship”.

 

If you put the phrase into a search engine you will be met with a list of firms offering to help you make this application but none of them actually tell you what it is exactly and none give you a checklist. You might think this is because they don’t want you to do it yourself, they want you to need their help so they keep some information back.

 

I can promise you that Forrest Williams will not do this. We will tell you there is no checklist, there is no magic formula.

 

But we will also tell you that you do need help with this. With an exceptional hardship application you are pleading Guilty to an offence but then you are asking the courts not to punish you in the way the law says you should be. You are asking them to find that your circumstances are so special that you should be considered the ‘exception’ to the rule. This is not something that a lot of people can do on their own.

 

For a lot of people they contact us because the loss of their licence will mean the loss of their job, the loss of income. The law says this is not enough, there needs to be some other consequence. After all, as harsh as it sounds, the court are looking to punish you for the offence that has called you before them.

 

However we will not tell you that you should consider making an exceptional hardship application unless we believe that there is a strong chance of success. We know that it is a big expense at a time when for most, every penny matters.

 

I recently had an unsuccessful Exceptional Hardship Application heard in Bromley Magistrates. My client, a delivery driver, was in a totting position which in turn would mean he would lose his job. He had a child with his ex however advised me that he would not allow me to use this information as part of his case, so despite actually providing them with vital support, he did not want the courts to know he provided financially.  He was aware that not allowing us to tell the courts about the support he provided substantially weakened his case. He lived with his parents but they did not rely on his income.  His parents were elderly but drove and were not reliant upon his licence.  He told us that he could not return to his previous employment as a welder because of health concerns, concerns which had prompted him to take a job as a delivery driver in the first place.  The courts found that though he himself would suffer hardship his case did not meet the high threshold set for an Exceptional Hardship application.

 

Our client lost his case but he was happy with the service he has received. He knew that we had tried to explore every option and that he was kept informed throughout his case. He needed to try to save his licence and we worked with him to build the strongest case we could using the information he was happy for us to share.

 

If you are in a position where you are facing a disqualification, whether as a Totter, for a high speed, for medical reasons or for a Drink Drive offence then give the Forrest Williams Team a call on 01623 600645 and we would be happy to have a chat about your circumstances and see what would work best for you.

 

Exceptional Hardship for PTSD

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams

 

Exceptional Hardship For PTSD

 

I was contacted recently by Tom, an ex-serviceman suffering with severe PTSD. He was at risk of losing his driving licence for 6 months as a result of reaching 12 penalty points.

 

I explained that he would require an Exceptional Hardship application, guided him through the process, and told him how much our fee would be for this service.

 

He told me immediately he couldn’t afford to pay.

 

He was out of work due to his PTSD and had no savings. He thanked me for my help, but said he would have to try to present the case himself.

 

I immediately felt that I had to help this man, and I told him that as a thank you for his service for his country, my firm would prepare his case and represent him in Court free of charge.

 

It is not unusual for law firms to offer pro bono work like this, and it is very rewarding.

 

I had no idea just how rewarding this particular case would be.

 

In order for Tom to avoid the 6 month ban, I had to show that the ban would cause him or someone else Exceptional Hardship.

 

I quickly realised that whilst Tom did transport his elderly father to hospital occasionally, and help out with a charity football team as a minibus driver, these arguments would not be strong enough to convince the Court.

 

If Tom was going to keep his licence, he had to rely on his PTSD, which meant him opening up to me about the atrocities that he had lived through while serving in the Army.

 

Tom agreed to speak to me about this. I warned him that I would have to ask him difficult questions, to put his PTSD into context and show the Court how vital it was for his mental health that he have the freedom to leave the house and not be ‘trapped’.

 

In an incredibly emotional conversation, Tom spoke about his background, his impeccable record of service in the Army, his beloved father and family. Finally, I had to ask about what he had experienced while serving in the Army.

 

Tom broke down immediately, sobbing heavily before passing the phone to his wife. Once he had physically left the room, his wife shared with me Tom’s experience of being captured whilst serving abroad and being kept underground for days with the rest of his group who were captured with him. She told me in graphic detail what Tom had witnessed over the course of the many days that the group were captured, and revealed that only Tom and one other had made it out of there alive.

 

For Tom, feeling trapped anywhere was a huge trigger of being kept in ‘the hole’. Losing his licence for 6 months would isolate him and take away one of the only sources of pleasure in his life; the freedom to set off and go into the open countryside whenever he wanted or needed to.

 

I asked my senior partner, Steve Williams, to represent Tom, something he agreed to immediately.

 

In Court, Steve presented the case on behalf of Tom, who cried throughout. Steve realised that simply telling the magistrates that Tom had had a bad experience in service would not give them the understanding they needed, so he apologised in advance and then shared the full, graphic story with them.

 

The magistrates were visibly upset and immediately granted the Exceptional Hardship application, allowing Tom to continue to drive.

 

Tom sent a lovely eMail after his hearing:

 

THANKYOU Thankyou thankyou Steve was amazing as I told him you are x

 

Tom (although, of course, that’s not your real name!), if you’re reading this – you are the amazing one.

 

Thank you, again, from all of us here at Forrest Williams, for your service.

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