Today’s post raises a controversial and hugely important question:
Does your ethnicity affect your access to a fair hearing?
I’ll be honest, it’s a question I hadn’t considered in much detail until recently.
I’m an open-minded person, I’m not racist and I don’t know or associate with people who are racist. Professionally, I represent people of all ethnicities and, in fact, the majority of my clients are not White British. It makes absolutely no difference to me or the rest of my team here at Forrest Williams.
You can perhaps imagine my surprise when, a few weeks ago, I was contacted by a new client who needed my help.
This person had received a letter from the DVLA advising that he had to return his licence within 28 days as he had been convicted of speeding, and 6 points needed to be put on his licence. Furthermore, he had also been fined £700.
Nothing too unusual there; we hear often from people who have been convicted of driving offences in their absence because they have never received the Notice of Intended Prosecution.
What made this case strange was that the Defendant was not our client. They did not share the same name. They did not share the same address. And they did not drive the same car.
Our client had been chosen at random to be convicted of an offence committed by someone else.
Our client was of Chinese origin with a Chinese name. The Defendant also had a Chinese name, which was slightly similar to the client’s name.
We spoke to the Court about this, and queried how our client had become involved in this.
We explained that his name – Tian Long Cheung* – was completely different from the name of the Defendant – Tao Liang Cheung*.
The Court staff replied; “but they’re similar names, aren’t they?”
As if it was acceptable that our client was having to go through the worry, inconvenience and expense of this situation because his name was unfamiliar to the British legal system.
Fortunately, we finally managed to convince the Court that they should impose the points and fine against the Defendant, rather than a random person with a similar name, but we found the case and, in particular, the Court’s apparent lack of concern about this, very worrying.Tags: motoring solicitors