Rather than focusing on one issue this week, I will look at some of the legal issues which have recently made the headlines.
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. He argued the registered keeper did not receive the notice until 15 days after the alleged offence.
The Court accepted this and therefore the case could not proceed.
Some have argued Beckham played the system and questioned whether in doing so he has ruined any chance of a future knighthood.
The other side of the coin, however, is the prosecution has 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 February 7 for the notice to arrive.
On a different issue, I was pleased to note that the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest Court, presided on October 3 for the first time with a majority of women.
Three of the five judges hearing the case on 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 2016-17, statistics show 1.3 million females were enrolled in higher education in the UK compared to one 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 September 10, if you renewed your passport before expiry then any time left on the old passport, up to a maximum of nine months, would be added to the new one. Since September 10, however, time is no longer carried forward. Some countries will not let you in unless you have at least six months left on your passport.
The change therefore affects the price of passports because in practical terms they 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 to leave renewing your passport to the last minute, assuming you are not travelling before expiry, but the money saved is unlikely to be worth the risk; if it is not issued in time for travelling at all.