10th October 2018

Ben Hoare Bell LLP Partner Richard Hardy offers a round up of recent issues in the legal world.

Let’s start with David Beckham.  Charged with speeding at 59mph in a 40mph zone.  He contested the case on what was reported as a technicality.

In brief for a successful prosecution many traffic offences require a Notice of Intended Prosecution to be received by either the driver or registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days of the alleged offence.  David Beckham was not the registered keeper of the car that he was driving at the time of the incident.  He argued the registered keeper did not receive the prosecution Notice until the 15th day after the alleged offence.

The Court accepted this and therefore the case could not proceed.  Some have argued Beckham played the system and even questioned whether in doing so he has ruined any chance of a knighthood in the future.  The other side of the coin however is the prosecution have a duty to comply with this time limit.  The Court held the time limit, prescribed by law, was not complied with.  After accepting the prosecution Notice did not arrive until the 15th day, then applying the law correctly meant the prosecution simply could not proceed.  If any questions are to be asked they might be asked of the postal service and why it took from 2 February to 7 February for the prosecution Notice to arrive.

On a different issue I was pleased to note that the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest Court, presided on 3 October 2018 for the first time with a majority of women.  Three of the five Judges hearing the case on 3 October 2018 were female, almost 100 years after a law was passed allowing women to practice as Barristers.  Although of the current ten UK Supreme Court Justices only three are female. Times are changing however albeit slowly. I see this within my own firm in which the majority of our Lawyers are now female. There is not a conscious recruitment policy – each time we just pick the best people for the job and more females now enter higher education.  In 2016/2017 statistics show 1.3 million females were enrolled in higher education in the UK compared to 1 million males.

The other legal issue which recently caught my attention was one of the first effects of Brexit.  I need to renew my passport hence this caught my eye.

Before 10 September 2018 if you renewed your passport before expiry then any time left on the old passport, up to a maximum of 9 months, would be added to the new one.  Since 10 September 2018 however time is no longer carried forward.

Some Countries will not let you in unless you have at least 6 months left on your passport.  The change therefore in reality affects the price of passports because in practical terms passports will only now last 9.5 years but you will still pay the 10 year fee.  The government has stated the change is part of the preparations to leave the EU.  Should there be a no deal Brexit UK nationals will be considered “third country nationals” within the EU and have to comply with different travel rules.  To enter the EU from a “third country” you need a passport issued within the last 10 years and, under old rules, where time was added to new passports then not everyone with a UK passport had one which was issued in the last 10 years.  It might be tempting now to leave renewing your passport to the last minute, assuming you are not traveling before expiry, but the money saved is unlikely to be worth the risk; if it is not issued in time you will not be travelling at all.