Tag Archives: exceptional hardship

Driving disqualification avoided due to exceptional hardship

Chesterfield Motoring Solicitor Kevin Tomlinson was recently instructed in a case where his client was at real risk of a driving disqualification. Her latest offending left her with 19 penalty points on her licence.  In order to ensure the best result for her, Kevin had to ensure that offences from two different court centres were before a single court.

road traffic law solicitor ChesterfieldKevin’s client had received a requisition from a Court in Staffordshire.  This was as a result of new speeding offences. If convicted she would have been over the 12 point penalty limit for keeping her driving license and a ban was possible. Kevin knew that the client would have a strong argument to keep her license as losing it would cause her exceptional hardship.

His client then discovered that she was to have a further case before Derby Magistrates’ Court involving similar offence.

It was important that both cases be listed together.  This was because Kevin could only put forward the same reasons for exceptional hardship once within a three year period.   Kevin managed to delay the case in Staffordshire until the case in Derby had been listed.  He was then able to have both matters listed before the same Magistrates’ Court.

At the point of sentencing Kevin had the opportunity to put forward the exceptional hardship argument on behalf of his client.  This gave her an opportunity to keep her driving license even though she now had 19 penalty points on her driving licence as a result of her guilty pleas.

Exceptional hardship arguments

motoring law solicitor chesterfieldAs all drivers know when you reach 12 penalty points the Court will disqualify you from driving under the totting up procedure. However, if it can be shown that exceptional hardship will result from a disqualification a driver is enabled to keep their license even though they have passed the 12 point penalty limit.

The concept of “exceptional hardship” is not comprehensively defined by the law.  It does, however, have to be more than an inconvenience caused as a natural result of a driving ban.

Issues that can amount to hardship may include:

  • Loss of a job resulting in loss of accommodation for others such as children
  • An inability to get to any work due to geographical and public transport restrictions
  • Loss of other third persons employment due to businesses having to close
  • The requirement to take family members to urgent medical appointments when no other transport is available

In this case Kevin argued exceptional hardship before the Magistrates.  His client gave evidence to the court about the difficulties she would face if she lost her licence.  Although the case was initially heard before two Magistrates, they could not agree.  As a result a third Magistrate was brought in so Kevin had to present the case again.

No driving disqualification but 19 penalty points

Fortunately for his client, Kevin was successful in his representations and exceptional hardship was found. The court chose to exercise its discretion not to impose a driving disqualification. This meant the Client could continue driving and was simply ordered to pay financial penalties for these offences.

Kevin’s advocacy skills and ability to see the bigger picture when collecting together cases before making his argument enabled the client to keep his driving licence.

Privately funded cases

For this type of case legal aid was not available.  Instead an agreed fixed fee was agreed in advance of the work being undertaken.  In the event this was arguably a small price to pay in order that our client keep her driving license.

Contact a Chesterfield Motoring Law Solicitor

Chesterfield road traffic law solicitor VHS Fletchers driving disqualification
Chesterfield motoring law solicitor Kevin Tomlinson

If you require advice and representation from an expert road traffic law solicitor because you face a driving disqualification then please contact Kevin at our Chesterfield office on 01246 283000 or use the contact form below.  Details of our Chesterfield Office can be found here.  Alternatively you can find your nearest office here.

Kevin can provide you with detailed and affordable advice as to whether you are able to challenge the prosecution evidence relating to your road traffic offence, or how you are likely to be sentenced following a guilty plea.


Legal Aid Granted After Exceptional Hardship Application

Nottingham crime solicitor Lauren Fisher  pursued an exceptional hardship application for her client to ensure that he had the benefit of legal aid.  She then ensured that his trial was prepared properly with the Crown, once again, failing to secure the evidence that would provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

The circumstances of the offence

exceptional hardship criminal legal aid nottingham vhs fletchers
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

Lauren’s client was charged with and allegation of common assault.  A member of the public had reported the assault.  When the police attended at the scene they found the alleged victim who named Lauren’s client as being responsible for an unlawful assault.  He was named and arrested nearby.

In interview, Lauren’s client maintained that he could not remember anything about the night.  Unsurprisingly he was charged to court.

A few days later, his partner made a further statement to the police.  She stated that she had been drunk when she made her original statement.  The incident had also been two-sided and she had not been assaulted.  Due to the fact she was no longer a helpful witness to the prosecution she was tendered to the defence.  This means that Lauren could call her as a witness if she wanted.

Lack of identification evidence

The prosecution had not noticed that without this witness there was no evidence identifying Lauren’s client as the man involved in the incident.  This was the case because the eye witness had not been present when our client was arrested.  As a result of the original statement by our client’s partner there had not been identification procedures.

Once Lauren had identified this she properly put the court and prosecution on notice that identification would be a trial issue.  Had she not put the prosecution on notice it was likely that the prosecution would be granted an adjournment to seek the necessary evidence.

Failure to hold a VIPER procedure

Despite being warned of the problem with the evidence the prosecution and police failed to pursue the VIPER identification evidence.  Lauren’s client confirmed that he would consent to the procedure late in the case.  As a result his details were passed to the officer to make the necessary arrangements.

nottingham criminal legal aid exceptional hardship

Despite this, by the trial no attempts had been made to make the arrangements for a video identification parade.  As a result the prosecution took a realistic approach and offered no evidence.

Magistrates’ Court Criminal Legal Aid Exceptional Hardship

Criminal legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court is subject to both a merits and means test.  Firstly, the Legal Aid Agency has to be sure that there are features of the case that mean that legal aid should be granted.  The defendant is also subject to a means test.  There is no contribution, so if the defendant earns over a certain level after deductions then legal aid is not available.

It is possible, however, to make an application to the Legal Aid Agency to ask that legal aid is granted on the basis of exceptional hardship.  This procedure involves the defendant’s solicitor setting out the likely fees to represent them at court and then asking the Agency to say that the expense would be more that they could afford.

In this case, Lauren spent the time with her client assessing that such an application would be worthwhile.  Because of this he was able to have the benefit of free advice and representation at the Magistrates’ Court trial.

Contact a criminal law solicitor in Nottingham

exceptional hardship criminal legal aid VHS Fletchers
Nottingham crime solicitor Lauren Fisher

Whether you face a police investigation or proceedings before the Magistrates’ or Crown Court you will want to instruct a specialist criminal defence lawyer.  We will provide you with advice and representation that you can afford.

Please remember that advice and representation in police interview is always free of charge under the legal aid scheme.  This is always true whether you are interviewed while under arrest or as a volunteer, at the police station or another place such as your home.

We will always provide advice as to whether an exceptional hardship application is likely to succeed and advise on the process.

If you want to instruct Lauren Fisher then please telephone her on 0115 9599550 or use the form below.  Alternatively, you can find your nearest office here.