No Jurisdiction Means No Conviction

Kept Licence
Fort William Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court

Our client in this case was alleged to have used a mobile phone whilst driving, in contravention of section 41D(b) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.  Being convicted of the charge would carry a minimum of 6 penalty points although the Court, as in most road traffic offences, also has a power of discretionary disqualification.

We were instructed to plead not guilty due to the simple fact that our client denied committing the offence.  He accepted picking up his phone to look at it, and indeed this position was confirmed by the statements of the police witnesses.  What the police didn’t quite understand is that being distracted by your phone is a separate and distinct offence to using it, attracting a mandatory 3 penalty points and covered by the Road Traffic Act 1988 section 41D(a).

However, all of this was ultimately academic as the case headed off on a tangent.  Our eagle eye spotted what is known as a ‘fundamental nullity’ in the charge libelled: effectively, what was stated on it did not sufficiently identify the alleged offence as having occurred within the jurisdiction of Fort William Justice of the Peace Court.  This is essential for a competent charge and once we had raised the issue with the Procurator Fiscal’s office they had no option other than to desert proceedings.  Furthermore, as over 6 months had now passed since the incident they were unable to re-raise the case afresh with a competent libel owing to the Time Bar relating to mobile phone offences.

Published: 05/03/2020

Need help with a similar case?

Contact Us

See also

The Long Arm Of The Law

Our client was charged with using his mobile phone to text whilst driving. The police officer was adamant that from a distance of around 10 feet with nothing to obstruct his view he clearly saw our client using his right hand to send a text message. He was unable to see his left hand at all and presumed that it must have been on the steering wheel. The officer was asked if he noticed anything about our client at the time to which he replied that he had not. Our client was then invited to remove his jacket in the dock to reveal that he did not have a right arm. Needless to say that the officer was suitably mortified. This case attracted national front page headines across the UK - 'The Long Arm Of The Law' (which you can view in our Press & Media section). Our client was formally acquitted of the charge....