Matters of moment, July 1987

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Rough justice?

When the Fixed-Penalty Scheme for motoring traffic offences was introduced, we noted that although it might save the time of the courts and the police, it might also cause the vehicle owner who had committed a minor offence to wonder whether, if he decided to put his case before a magistrate who still found him guilty, he might incur a fine and penalties heavier than had he meekly paid up at the roadside. This is another way, incidentally, in which Britain is following the American pattern of life.

Then we reflected that this was probably an unfair assessment of the jealously-guarded British judicial system. Indeed, the leaflet describing the scheme covers this by saying: “You always have the right to dispute the offence in court, and all the facts about how to do this are spelt out in the fixed penalty notice.”

So far, so good! But when renewing the licence for a vintage car recently, we read again the leaflet which came with the application papers, and were disturbed to discover that it states: “If you are guilty, fines imposed by the courts are usually higher than fixed penalties.” This seems a very shabby way of imposing justice! It is surely a means of encouraging those who are stopped and told they have committed one of the hundreds of possible motoring offences, to abide by a roadside money-extraction system in which fines are fixed at £12 or £24 irrespective of how the alleged “crime” was committed.

There used to be some point in presenting one’s case to a magistrate who, after considering the facts and circumstances, would either pronounce the offender not guilty or impose a penalty which was deemed to meet the individual case. No longer, apparently.

If you wish to exercise your right to appear in court, but fail to prove your innocence to the satisfaction of the bench, you can expect to pay a higher fine than the more casual driver who doles out that £12 or £24 to the police and goes on his way.

This seems like unfair persuasion on the part of the Home Office, and rough justice for the motorist. And it apparently extends even to the heavy fine which can now be imposed for stopping for a few minutes, where it might not be apparent that such parking is against the law.