Half a million individual justice action notices have been issued in just nine months

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Emily Harvard, Woodfines Solicitors (62863702)
Emily Harvard, Woodfines Solicitors (62863702)

The Single Justice Procedure (SJP) was first introduced in early 2015 and has become progressively more widespread during Covid when courts have been closed. HM Courts and Tribunals Service recently published figures for the number of SJP Notices issued between 1 January 2022 and 30 September 2022 which is 530,000. It appears that this procedure will be used more commonly in the future, with many prosecution agencies joining the SJP process by the end of 2023.

What is this?

An SJP begins as a notification to the accused in the form of a letter stating the charge(s) against him or her and the prosecution that brought the case.

Situations covered by SJP include:

  • Using a TV without a license
  • Failure to present a valid train/bus ticket
  • Failure to ensure that the dependent child attends school
  • Driving without car insurance/valid driver’s license
  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Vehicle overloading
  • Not having a valid vehicle operator’s license.

Why is it used?

SJP aims to allow magistrates’ courts to deal with minor offenses in a faster, more efficient and less costly manner. A single judge sitting with legal counsel can decide on trials for adults that are summary only (an offense that can only be tried in a magistrate’s court), non-imprisonable, and victimless. This greatly reduces the need for a court appearance and speeds things up by enabling the petition to be added to the case on the day it is filed.

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process and how to respond

A response is required within 21 days of creation and submission of SJP notice. A guilty or not guilty plea must be entered (with areas marked on the form for mitigation if a guilty plea is made or to identify the issues dealt with in the prosecution’s case if it is an acquittal). Some petitions can be filed online depending on the prosecuting agency.

There is no requirement for evidence to be presented at this point, however, and it is not uncommon for a prosecuting authority to send some limited evidence along with the SJP’s notice. You can ask for evidence before entering a lawsuit or court proceeding.

You have options in choosing whether to go to court if you are to plead guilty, but more importantly, SJP is not designed to cater to cases that require legal arguments. SJP shall bring the matter to full hearing in court if the speeding involved in a speeding limit case provides for a discretionary disqualification from driving rather than just penalty points, or if there is a risk of disqualification under the “supplement” procedure.

In addition, SJP is designed to avoid/reduce the need for preliminary pre-trial hearings in the event of an appeal, and an admission of innocence in SJP’s notice is more likely to result in you being granted a trial date. This makes completing the notice extremely important by identifying the real issues in the case and the required corroborating witnesses. Failure to do so may restrict your ability to argue certain aspects of your case at trial.

Finally, by not responding to the SJP’s notice, individual justice will likely have your case on the papers, and if you are found guilty and sentenced, there will be no reduction in your guilty plea and fines will be calculated without seeing your means, which means they are likely to be higher than they might be. on him.

We have a proven track record of helping clients navigate SJP. If you need advice or help getting back in touch, contact the Ground Transport, Crime and Regulation team on 0344 967 2505.

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