The Notice of Intended Prosecution (or NIP) Explained
The Notice of Intended Prosecution is a notification, usually by the police, that a prosecution is being considered against an individual.
The Summons is a document which literally “summons” the keeper of a vehicle or the driver to court.
The rules surrounding the way in which these must reach the defendant in a case are precise and, if not followed, could result in a prosecution being discontinued. To explain how this area of law works, we have included a case study of one of our recent cases, and included an explanation of so called “NIPs” and “Summons’”.
Our motoring solicitors’ case study
Any motoring lawyer can claim to have expertise in different types of motoring case. We have included here a case study to give some idea of how we prepare our cases.
Our client was a management consultant with several employees. He had been alleged to have been speeding in a 30 mile per hour restricted area. The NIP was sent to him during a postal strike which the police had had adequate warning about and still sent the NIP by regular mail.
His NIP was received after 21 days, and then he received a court summons. He consulted us. After the first hearing, our barrister presented the prosecution with the problem relating to the NIP’s date of receipt. The Prosecution adjourned and later dropped the charge. Verdict: prosecution dropped case, client’s legal costs reimbursed by the court.
Methods and rules of delivery of the Notice of Intended Prosecution
It can be served on the motorist in person or by way of postal service. If the NIP has been served on a motorist by post, there is a legal requirement for this Notice to be received within a fourteen day period.
However, if the motorist has been involved in an accident, it is considered that the fact that the accident has happened is notice in itself. In these circumstances, the motorist should already know that proceedings are being considered against him or her. If, for example, the motorist has moved house but not told the DVLA his or her new address, then service of the NIP to the old house should be considered service.
If for some other reason caused by the keeper of the vehicle the NIP cannot be delivered, then the court will often consider the NIP rules satisfied in favour of the prosecution.
If you are being prosecuted for a motoring offence and would like to be represented, please have your NIP or summons ready when you call us.
If the NIP is not received by a motorist within 14 days, any subsequent prosecution may be invalid.
The Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 requires for there to be notice given to a motorist for the fact that he/she may be prosecuted. The following offences require a Notice of Intended Prosecution:
The Notice of Intended Prosecution can be communicated in various forms. It can be given verbally at the scene of the alleged violation; it can be communicated through a summons being served on the defendant within 14 days of the commission of the offence; or finally by way of NIP.
This final method is the most common and requires the NIP to specify the nature of the offence, the time and place where it is alleged to have been committed. This notice must be served on the offender or the registered owner of the vehicle within 14 days.
Is it an offence not to sign the Notice of Intended Prosecution?
Up until recently, the answer to this question could have been potentially arguable as “no”. Much publicity has surrounded the so called “Pace Letter”, and several cases have gone to the Higher Appeal Courts in both Britain and Europe.
However, following the European Court decision in the case of United Kingdom v Francis and O ‘Halloran, it seems that the door on the right to silence argument in Failure to Give Information (as to the Identity of the Driver) cases has been sealed shut. Cases such as DPP v Jones have however indicated that admitting being the driver in letter form may be an alternative way of identifying the driver. On this basis, Mary Monson Solicitors have fought a legal argument to have Failure to Give Information cases dropped.
Once the Notice of Intended Prosecution has been served on a motorist within the 14 day period, the summons to court needs to be laid by the prosecuting body before the court within 6 months. It is then processed by the court, who will contact the defendant in due course.
If this does not happen and the 6 month period expires without the information being “laid” before the court, then the prosecution may be defective.
When a motorist receives a summons to appear in court, there is a usual requirement to attend in person. However, it may be possible for him or her not to attend court if a representative attends on his or her behalf.
Many clients feel that while they do not want to plead guilty by post to a charge that is invalid, they still cannot take time away from work to fight against a state funded motoring prosecution. In these circumstances, Mary Monson Solicitors can represent and fight for their client without the client having to attend procedural hearings.