A case on what counts as ‘reasonable diligence’ in sending NIPS within 14 days
The Court of Appeal looked at whether in a case of dangerous driving the prosecution had acted with ‘reasonable diligence’ in serving the notice of intended prosecution
A speed camera operator had spotted the Appellant driving a damaged van with a shattered windscreen. The operator searched the name on the side of the van online and rang the number on the company website. The operator spoke to the Appellant and said that a vehicle examiner would be in touch to examine the vehicle. The operator sent a notice of intended prosecution to the Appellant at the address on the DVLA database which purported to be that of the registered keeper, five days later.
It subsequently emerged that whilst it had been sent to the correct individual it had been sent to the wrong address, as the DVLA database was incorrect. The operator made enquiries and sent the notice to two further addresses, and the proceedings were commenced approximately a year later.
At the close of the prosecution case the Appellant made a submission of no case to answer on the basis that the notice of intended prosecution received by him did not comply with section 1(1)(c) of the RTA as it had not been received within 14 days. A failure to comply with section 1(1) is not a bar to conviction where address details could not "with reasonable diligence have been ascertained in time" under section 2(3)(a) of the RTA.
The Court at first instance ruled that the operator had acted with reasonable diligence.
The issue for the Court of Appeal to consider was whether having found the company's website, the operator should have sent a NIP to the website address, not simply rely on the DVLA records, especially as the address on the website and that held by the DVLA were in different parts of the UK.
Held: The Appeal was dismissed. The Recorder had been entitled to conclude that the operator had acted with reasonable diligence. It was common for the registered address for a vehicle to not be located somewhere automatically associated with its keeper. Therefore, it was unnecessary for the operator to send a copy of the notice speculatively to the company's address found on the internet search. The route the operator had followed by noting the company on the vehicle allowing him to speak to the motorist, and then obtaining the address directly from the DVLA was held to be acting with reasonable diligence.
The appeal was dismissed
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