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25 January 2023 | Comment | Article by Leah Ellison

Changes to the Single Justice Procedure

The Single Justice Procedure (SJP) allows for a single magistrate, sitting with a legal advisor, to deal with minor offences and negates the need for the defendant to attend court (unless they enter a not guilty plea).

In 2022, 156,848 cases were completed via the Single Justice Service, with 92% of cases having been resolved without the need for the defendant to attend court.

For individuals, examples of lesser offences dealt with via SJP are:

  • Exceeding the national speed limit
  • Driving without instance
  • Excess vehicle load

Previously, the SJP has been only used for individuals facing prosecution. However, from 4 January 2023, this has been extended to include the prosecution of companies. This means that now, prosecutors can deal with non-imprisonable (known as summary only) offences involving companies without the need to go to court in England and Wales (unless a not guilty plea is entered).

For companies, examples of lesser offences that can be dealt with via SJP are:

  • Excess vehicle weight
  • Operators licence offences
  • Failure to give identification of a driver

SJP will operate the same for companies as for individuals and will be dealt with by a single magistrate with a legal advisor sitting. Cases in which a defendant enters a not guilty plea will be heard in open court, and defendants even if pleading guilty can still request a hearing before the court if they wish.

It is hoped that the extension of the SJP will allow for cases to be dealt with more efficiently, in a more straightforward manner for service users, and overall reduce the length of time it takes for the case to be resolved.  

 

If you have any questions regarding the changes and their relevance to your business, please get in touch with us.

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Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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