Mawdesley & Anor v Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary & Anor, Court of Appeal - Administrative Court, July 31, 2003, [2004] 1 WLR 1035,[2003] EWHC 1586 (Admin),[2004] 1 All ER 58

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Dwight Yorke appeals by way of case stated against the decision of the Manchester Crown Court on appeal from the Manchester City Magistrates Court upholding his conviction for speeding contrary to section 89(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1894. The issues to which the appeals give rise are closely related and in consequence on 3 March 2003 Maurice Kay J directed that they should be heard at the same time and before the same judge.The FactsMichael MawdesleyOn 7 April 2002 a police officer was operating a speed camera from a bridge over the M56 when the speed of a motor car, registration number H9 JPR, was checked by approved equipment and found to be travelling in excess of the speed limit.3. On 25 April 2002 Notice of intended prosecution was sent to Mr Mawdesley. He was not the registered owner of the vehicle; and the form said inter alia that –“The current owner of the vehicle, or any other person who is able to do so, is required by law to give any information which will lead to the identification of the driver.You have been named as the driver/hirer of the above vehicle at the time of the alleged offence. If you were the driver at the time of the alleged offence, you are required to provide your full name, address and date of birth.”The Notice of Intended Prosecution was accompanied in the usual manner by a form for completion by the intended recipient requiring him to provide information under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The form was in three parts. The first was headed -“IF YOU WERE THE DRIVER AT THE TIME OF THE ALLEGED OFFENCE, COMPLETE THIS SECTION ONLY.” The printed form then read -“I was the driver of the vehicle registered number H9 JPR at the time of the alleged offence.”The form then specified the information required, in each case leaving a box or space for completion by the recipient. He or she was required to provide their driver number, ie the number to be found on their driving licence, their full name and address, date of birth and occupation. At the foot of this part of the form the words “signature” and “date” were printed with space for the insertion of each. The remaining parts of the form enabled the recipient to make the appropriate response if he or she was neither the driver nor the owner at the time of the alleged offence. 4. The form sent to Mr Mawdesley was returned to the Motorway Unit of the Cheshire Constabulary on 16 May 2002. Mr Mawdesley’s driver number had been inserted in handwriting. So too had his name and address together with his date of birth. But the spaces for his signature and date were left blank.5. On 17 June 2002 an information was preferred alleging an offence of speeding. The subsequent hearing took place on 25 October 2002 before the Justices for the County of Cheshire sitting in the Petty Sessional Division of Warrington. Mr Mawdesley did not appear, but was represented by a solicitor who made a submission of no case to answer on the basis that the court could not rely upon the unsigned response to the requirement to supply information under section 172. That submission was rejected by the Magistrates; and the Appellant was duly convicted.6. The Justices’ reasoning is set out in the Statement of Case -“3. It was contended by the appellant that the case was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt on the basis that the Respondent had not revealed the identity of the driver of the said vehicle due to the fact that the said Response Form had not been signed. The Appellant accepted that the requirement of Section 12(1)(a) Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 was satisfied in so far as the said Section 172 notice was served upon the Appellant by post.The Appellant did not accept that the provision of Section 12(1)(b) Road Traffic Offenders Act was satisfied. The Appellant maintained that the Response Form had not been signed and whilst it contained details relating to the Appellant, the document had not been signed, that there was clearly a space dedicated for the purposes of such a signature being inserted across from the word “sign” and that in the Appellant’s submission it would be absurd to suggest that in the absence of such a signature made in or about the dedicated space (or anywhere else for that matter) on the said Response Form it could be regarded as signed.The implication being of course that if the said Response Form was not signed it could not be accepted in evidence as per the provision of Section 12 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 and there being no other evidence to establish the Appellant’s identification, the Respondent’s case would have to fail.4. (After setting out Section 12(1) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988) the Respondent contended that the Response Form was completed in that it included details of a driver license number, a full name and address, a date of birth and details of an occupation and most importantly the name of Michael Mawdesley had been written (in block capitals) and the abbreviations of Mrs, Ms and Miss had been deleted. These details according to the Respondent constituted a signature and as such the Response Form could be regarded as signed by the Appellant. 5. We were of the opinion that the Response Form had been signed by the Appellant and had no reason to believe otherwise. The Appellant had accepted that the Notice of Intended Prosecution had been served upon him in the post and that a reply had been received.The Appellant was not present at court to give evidence to refute that he was the person who had signed the Section 172 Notice and returned it to the police. The Appellant proceeded by way of submission through his legal representative that the prosecution had failed to discharge the...

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