Legal Analysis

Injustice in the Single Justice Procedure ?

HM Courts and Tribunal Service have published a Fact sheet entitled Single Justice Service on their website. The Fact Sheet is worryingly described as “Promotional material“.

The Single Justice Service (SJS) allows magistrates’ courts to deal with minor offences in a way that’s quicker, more straightforward and more efficient, while still being fair, transparent and rigorous. This process is known as the Single Justice Procedure (SJP).

A single magistrate, supported by a legal adviser, can decide adult, summary-only, non-imprisonable and victimless offences, including company prosecutions.

They can do this when the defendant has pleaded guilty or has not responded to notification that they’re being prosecuted.

The defendant always has the option to choose to attend a hearing in court in person.

Examples of cases covered by the SJP include:

  • using a television without a licence
  • failing to show a valid train ticket while travelling on a train service
  • driving without car insurance
  • exceeding a speed limit
  • failing to ensure a dependent child’s school attendance
  • excess vehicle load
  • lack of valid vehicle operator’s licence

Is the Single Justice Service (SJS) quicker, more straightforward and more efficient, while still being fair, transparent and rigorous ?

Justice or Injustice

Tristan Kirk who is the Courts correspondent for the Evening Standard regularly posts on X about dubious and immoral convictions using the Single Justice Procedure.

Bristol woman, 57, prosecuted for not paying for a TV Licence
“I have no family or friends…my only lifeline is a TV”
Disabled, & depressed after her daughter’s death. Struggles with opening letters. #SingleJusticeProcedure

Tristan Kirk on X
Tristan Kirk Courts correspondent for the Evening Standard

This is an absolute disgrace.

The Single Justice Procedure is clearly not justice !

pjm1kbw KC Barrister at 1KBW
Injustice in the Single Justice Procedure

Lady Chief Justice to look into flaws of controversial fast-track justice system

Tristan Kirk wrote in the Standard on the 8th February 2024 :-

The top judge in England and Wales has promised to investigate the workings of a controversial fast-track court system after an Evening Standard investigation revealed how the elderly, vulnerable and mentally ill people are convicted in closed-door hearings.

The Lady Chief Justice, Lady Carr of Walton-on-the Hill, backed the single justice procedure when questioned on the fairness of the system, calling it “proportionate” for low-level crimes.

“I think the safeguards are there, both in terms of open justice and protection for the individual involved.”

Lady Carr said she would look into how mentally ill defendants are supported in the procedure, and vowed to inspect how decisions are taken at private hearings. She even suggested she may sit in judgment on SJP cases.

Top judge to look into flaws of controversial fast-track justice system

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By Dom Watts

Dom Watts is the founder of the Ministry of Injustice. Dom works in IT and has no legal training and is not a lawyer. You can find Dom on X or Google.

In 2002 Dom Watts was an unlikely consumer champion. The dad of three from Croydon took on the power and might of Kodak – and won………

Dom on BBC Working Lunch

Dom Watts interviewed by Gerald Main BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Dr Laurence Godfrey (Godfrey v Demon Internet Ltd [1999] EWHC QB 244) wrote: “I am very pleased to read that there appears to have been a remarkable U-turn."

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