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The Single Justice Procedure has been extended, enabling
prosecutors to deal with non-imprisonable cases involving
companies, without the need to go to court.
The Single Justice Procedure was first introduced in 2015 and
has previously only been used to prosecute individuals. The
extension of the provisions means that, as of 4 January 2023,
companies can now be prosecuted in the same way as
individual’s for some minor offences. These offences
- Excess vehicle weight;
- Lack of or incorrect operator’s licence;
- Tachograph offences;
- Failure to give identification of a driver
The decision whether a company is prosecuted under the Single
Justice Procedure or in court is that of the prosecutor. However,
as with all Single Justice Procedure cases, the company can choose
to have their case heard in open court should they wish to do
The process for companies under the Single Justice Procedure
will be the same as it is for individuals. A Single Justice
Procedural Notice will be served upon the company setting out the
charge and brief circumstances of the offence. The company will
have 21 days, from the date the notice is served, to respond by
- pleading guilty online or by post;
- pleading guilty and requesting a court hearing: or
- pleading not guilty.
The Plea and Means Form’s for a company defendant must be
signed by either a Company Secretary, Company Director, or Company
If the company pleads guilty, or fails to respond to the notice
within the 21 day time limit, a determination will be made by a
single magistrate, supported by a legal adviser, on the papers
before them. The company will be notified in writing of the
decision. Upon entry of a not guilty plea, or a guilty plea
requesting a hearing, a hearing date will be arranged and the
company notified of the date that they need to attend court.
Whilst having a case dealt with without the need to attend court
may seem an attractive proposition, it should be considered that,
the single magistrate can impose financial penalties, costs and
penalty points. Further, if the company holds an operator’s
licence, the conviction could be notifiable to the Traffic
Commissioner and impact upon their licence.
Upon receipt of a Single Justice Procedure Notice it is
important that legal advice is obtained. This will ensure the
correct plea is entered, all relevant mitigation is presented (if
appropriate) and the best outcome is sought for the company.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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