This year, I think I have lived up to my name, “Miss Justice” as I became a frequent visitor to the High Court!
Geoffrey Miller Solicitors were involved in a number of High Court appeals (a few of which continue) which have changed the landscape of motoring law.
We like to think that because we were involved in these cases, we have a unique insight into how the law has changed and strategically what needs to be adapted.
We have collaborated with the country’s leading experts to devise new strategies and to ensure that we are always compliant with the law and how this evolves. If you choose to place your case with us, this gives you an added advantage having lawyers at the leading edge of these changes.
Some of the cases that were the subject of High Court review continue in the lower courts and so we are somewhat restricted in going into detail about them. In summary:
1. In the summer of 2017 an appeal brought by the Crown Prosecution Service was found to establish numerous principles that assist our defence strategies. In particular, the case reconfirmed the validity of the Cracknell v Willis defence.
This case also opened up the possibility of pursuing defences on the basis that the alcohol readings at the time of driving could have been under the limit.
Since the High Court case, we have gone on to win one of the ongoing magistrates court cases that was involved. One continues as at 21 December 2017.
In the autumn of 2017 a case that we had appealed as long ago as March 2017 was heard in the High Court. This involved a decision to adjourn the trial despite there being insufficient grounds raised by the prosecution who had been entirely negligent in failing to prepare their case, to do so. The court agreed with our interpretation and was heavily critical of the legal advisor whose decision we appealed. This case also threw up some very interesting points about the powers of legal advisers and the court thanked us for appealing the case that offered clarification on the law on this specific point.
Another case that was was in October 2017 also related to the decision to adjourn a trial. This time, it was a decision by magistrates who had relied on caselaw that was totally irrelevant. Unfortunately, we have seen a real trend amongst some courts to do whatever they can to assist the prosecution despite significant failings on their part. In this particular case, there is simply no explanation by the prosecution for failing to ensure the attendance of a key witness. This did not seem to deter the magistrates who were hellbent on adjourning the case regardless of the unfairness this would present to the defendant.
At the appeal hearing, the magistrates were heavily criticised for failing to consider, at any stage, the interests of the defendant.The appeal was won and the defendant acquitted.
Interestingly in this case, the court offered some observations about the way in which we had presented our defence prior to the trial. We had outlined clear issues in the defence of the charge. We had served a defence statement. We had served a number of witness statements We had served a skeleton argument. We had done everything we could to proactively engage with the prosecution yet the prosecution still failed to ensure that the case was properly prepared. The High court ruled that the prosecution should not be allowed to rely on the possibility of an adjournment to correct their failings.
It is not pleasant for a client to have to go through a prosecution and in some instances, we are finding that some courts’ approach is to make the process itself an ordeal. However, we are finding that justice prevails in the vast majority of our cases and we expect to see a more equitable approach in 2018.
A positive and unintended consequence of our involvement in High Court cases this year is that we have now established a fund to assist those who require our help in achieving justice. If you wish to be considered for a fees subsidy, please get in touch and we will confirm further information we need.
I know you could not wish for a more dedicated team on your side.
Jeanette S. Miller
Geoffrey Miller Solicitors
Founding CEO and President of the Association of Motor Offence Lawyers (AMOL)