Received a notice of intended prosecution? Don't delay in submitting your driver's details.

Posted by Tim Williamson on
If you have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution from the police and have been required to supply the police with details about who was driving at the time of the incident, you need to be aware that the law setting out what you must do has just been clarified by the High Court in the case of Phiri v Director of Public Prosecutions.

The High Court has re-iterated that it will not be a defence for a person accused of 'failing to supply the police with driver details' to argue that they left the completed form nominating the driver with someone else for them to post or in a post tray at work – even if there was a reasonable expectation that post would be collected from such a place.

Mr Phiri's vehicle had triggered a red-light traffic camera and a notice of intended prosecution had been sent by the police to his home address as the keeper of the vehicle, requiring him to give such information as he could as to the identity of the driver at the relevant time. He had received the notice and had completed and signed the form indicating that the driver at the relevant time was a third party.  

He worked at a university and had left the letter returning the form in the post tray at his place of work.  It had never reached the police and he had been prosecuted for failing to give the required information. The judge accepted the Mr Phiri's evidence but found the offence proved. He found that the Mr Phiri had not discharged the burden of showing that he had complied with the obligation to give the information because he had relied on a third party.

The High Court explained that the law had to be interpreted so that it provided a practical, fair and enforceable system for identifying the drivers of vehicles. The notice of intended prosecution required a written response.  The burden was on the motorist to satisfy the court that he had given the required information. 

It was accepted that if Mr Phiri had actually put the letter in the post he would have "given" the required information. However, the High Court upheld judge's decision that Mr Phiri had not discharged that burden. The High Court noted that it might have been reasonable for Mr Phiri to place the letter in the post tray with the legitimate expectation that the university post room would post it for him. But it had gone astray. By relying on a third party and by not posting the letter himself he had not discharged the obligation of giving the required information.

The lesson here is to make sure that you post the reply form back to the police, the risks associated with not doing so and relying on others are plain for all to see. 

About the Author

Tim is a leading Criminal and Regulatory lawyer, who defends businesses and individuals under investigation by the police and regulatory bodies and when accused of criminal offences.

Tim Williamson
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