In Gidden v Chief Constable of Humberside, DC, 29 October 2009 (no transcript available), the court quashed a conviction for speeding. The applicant had been sent, via first class post, a notice of intended prosecution. However, due to postal strikes the NIP did not arrive until 16 days after the offence.
The question posed for the determination of the High Court was whether, upon a proper construction of s.1(1)(c), s.1(1A)(c) and s.1(3) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, a notice of intended prosecution should be regarded as having been properly served where the notice was sent by first class ordinary post on a date that would normally lead to it being delivered within the 14-day time limit but where the court was satisfied that it was actually delivered after the 14-day time limit.
Held: Save for NIP's sent by registered post or recorded delivery, the presumption of delivery was rebuttable. It was not possible to read down the Act, nor the CrPR 2005, to provide for a convenient way to close what may well become a well used loophole.
This seems to have resurrected, thanks to the postal workers' strikes, the long-running Section 172 controversy, in which hundreds of motorists who have been snapped by speed cameras have disputed the validity (especially in respect of what is good service) of the notice of intended prosecution and the requirement to name the driver of the speeding vehicle.
Solicitors who make a living from defending motorists (one of the groups that is most likely to stump up the cost of representation) will be rubbing their hands.