Police request for driver details
Blake Morgan's Driver Defence team is the leading team of specialist road traffic lawyers in the South of England. We have been recognised by legal directory Chambers and Partners: A Client's Guide to the Legal Profession 2017 as a Band 1 firm in this field. Our team of specialist lawyers travel all the country to help motorists facing a driving ban or having penalty points put on their licence. Our work has taken us to Magistrates and Crown Courts all over the country. Many of our cases have reached the Higher Courts.
Vuyi Ndiweme instructed Blake Morgan early in 2012 after he had received a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) from Somerset Constabulary. The NIP included further documentation requiring him to identify the driver of a motor vehicle that had been detected exceeding the speed limit. The request was purportedly made pursuant to section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988. There is a requirement that the request is made by or on behalf of the chief constable / officer of police for the county.
Upon reading the documentation sent to Mr Ndiweme it was clear that although there was reference to the requirement to provide driver details being made on behalf of the Chief Constable, the request for driver details document did not actually contain the name of the person making the requirement.
Mr Ndwieme argued that the evidence of his confession (he nominated himself as being the driver after receiving the documentation) was inadmissible because the request for driver details was defective and could not be relied upon. It was further contended that in the absence of the name of the person, the prosecution would need to adduce additional evidence to demonstrate that the person actually making the request for driver details was properly authorised to do so by the Chief Constable. Case law has established that the Crown must prove this issue to the usual criminal standard – beyond a reasonable doubt.
How our Driver Defence team helped
The case came before Taunton Magistrates Court and upon hearing legal argument from the defence about the defective request for driver details document, and after cross examination of the member of staff from the central ticket office about the chain of command that was in operation in Somerset, the Magistrates decided that it could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the witness was properly authorised to do so and dismissed the case. The court ordered that Mr Ndwieme's costs ought to be paid from central funds.
Tim Williamson, the head of Blake Morgan's Driver Defence team, who advised Mr Ndwieme, commented: "This case shows that it is vital to scrutinise all court papers carefully and seek specialist legal advice before proceeding. It cannot be assumed that the procedural requirements have been complied with per se. A careful analysis of the papers will be required in every case.
"The Court did not make a finding that a request for driver details set out in a document without a name is defective as such. The witness from the ticket office had only been in the post for two weeks at the time she sent the NIP and didn't sufficiently understand how the team worked and how authority was delegated. In another case, with a more experienced witness and with perhaps a statement from the Chief Constable about how power is delegated, then the CPS could well have succeeded. Every request for driver details in Somerset will most likely not include the name of the person and so there could be many challenges in the Courts."