A fantastic result for a client in court today, even though the case was a little different to those we generally deal with on a daily basis.
We were contacted by a gentleman in relation to a speeding charge. He had received a Conditional Offer of 3 penalty points and £100 fine for a speeding matter that should have attracted a short disqualification or 6 points. So he accepted the Conditional Offer, right?
He rang a firm of solicitors for advice and was told to ignore the Conditional Offer and they would help him fight it. Now, we know that if you ignore a conditional offer then the matter is entered into Court and the potential penalties are a lot more severe, but he didn’t know that and I suspect a lot of people probably don’t realise that as well. What’s more, if a solicitor tells you to just ignore it, most people would follow those instructions, because a solicitor is a professional person and will always give you the best possible advice.
Unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
Based on the advice of this solicitor, our client was now facing a court hearing, with the magistrates guidelines for that speed being a disqualification of up to 56 days or 6 points. He couldn’t contact the solicitors and his calls and emails were not being answered. He was now desperate.
He had 3 points on his licence already, so even if he was given the full 6 he wouldn’t have totted up and been disqualified, but his job as a self-employed driver would have been in jeopardy as due to conditions of insurance he would have lost his job once he went over 6 points on his licence, and would not have been able to find another driving role whilst he had 9 points on his licence.
He was the sole earner in the household, with a wife who is a non driver and a disabled child to look after. No licence would mean no job, no income and no transport for their child.
So now we can see the situation was a very precarious one. Although this wasn’t a conventional Exceptional Hardship case, this was the way we needed to present it to the Court.
It’s fair to say that he wasn’t keen to instruct me. He was furious with the previous solicitor and in no mood to trust anything I told him, or spend more money on legal advice.
He reluctantly instructed us as he felt unable to deal with what he saw as a helpless situation, and over the course of our case preparations his distrust in solicitors did not wane one bit. He challenged every single thing I told him and we’d had some extremely difficult conversations by the time the matter came to court.
We petitioned the Bench to not impose the obvious sentence according to their guidelines but to look at the individual circumstances of this case with a degree of humanity and common sense. Magistrates are often loathe to sentence outside of their guidelines but with a very persuasive argument by our Barrister they agreed to honour the original Conditional Offer and our client was sentenced to 3 points and £100 fine which was an exceptional result.
He was so relieved with the verdict he cried when it came, and I almost joined him.
A very difficult situation, a challenging client but a fantastic result. I had to try and change his mindset and persuade him to trust me, and it paid off.
If there is a lesson here, it is to ring around and don’t accept the first piece of legal advice you are given as its not always appropriate to your case.
Or, ring us first, we will listen to your whole story, we will be honest with you and we will help and support you every single step of your journey.
My name is Julia Coffin, and I’d be delighted to give you a first or second opinion about your legal case. You can call me on 01623 397200.