Updated 1/14/2012 5:16 am – I randomly came across this… Funny I say that a lot huh? More than 13 years I wanted to register a domain name called speeding.org and it was actually available at the time. But being a procrastinator back then, I let slip and some one else got the domain.
I envisioned a web site that will help people deal with various aspects of motoring. Such as increase driving skills of all drivers to reduce traffic jam. Have information about how to beat tickets. And whatever else it is necessary to keep people happier while they drive.
The article below is kind of related to my original idea for speeding.org and reminded me to still implement my vision from years ago. I actually filed this under my “human rights” category because I have such a strong beliefs about people should all get to enjoy the joys of motoring!! And getting ticketed to fund government totally sucks.
The ‘loophole lawyers’ who help clients beat motoring charges
‘Celebrity’ solicitor Nick Freeman has built a reputation on the back of footballers charged with motoring offences
As last week’s furore over car clamping shows, few issues boil the nation’s collective blood like infringements on our right to drive, hence the coalition’s pledge to end what it calls Labour’s “war on motorists”. This “war” has also seen the rapid growth of a corner of the legal profession which specialises in acting for motorists.
But while many people rail against speed cameras, they do much the same with the lawyers who exploit the technicalities of the law to get a client off a speeding or other motoring charge. Welcome to the world of loophole lawyers.
The most famous is “Mr Loophole” himself, “celebrity” solicitor Nick Freeman, who has even gone so far as to trademark his moniker. He, like others in the field, seems to have built a reputation largely on the back of footballers’ penchant for breaking the laws of the road – or not, as he generally gets them off. Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham are among the many to have sought his services.
As well as Mr Loophole we have “Miss Justice”, as Jeanette Miller, senior partner of Manchester motoring law firm Geoffrey Miller and president of the Association of Motor Offence Lawyers, likes to be known. She dubs her father the “original loophole lawyer” – he set up the practice in the 1970s and acted for the likes of George Best. Her website includes testimonials from several retired footballers, including Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen.
The most recent Home Office statistics show 2.3m fixed penalty notices were issued in 2008, 54% of them for speeding. The evidence for most of these was from cameras, the funding for which was recently slashed by the government, to the horror of road safety campaigners. There were more than 700,000 breath tests carried out, of which 13% were positive or refused, and the testing equipment and procedures are often under the spotlight too. Miller says speed cameras and other detection devices, as well as greater public awareness that their findings can be challenged, have fuelled this area of practice – even if her clients are “factually guilty”, the majority still get off on technicalities.
Miller says that while she understands how her work can enrage victims, she remains non-judgmental: “When you go to law school, you are taught to use the law and do the best for your clients.” In fact, she points out, if she did not, she would be in breach of her professional duty. It is no different from any other lawyer acting in a criminal matter.
Driving penalties can, of course, put livelihoods at risk. Those who reach 12 points on their licence often go to court thinking they can argue their way out of trouble, not realising there is a statutory presumption that a six-month ban will be imposed unless it would cause exceptional hardship. This needs to be presented properly. A few years ago, Miller even saved a man with 31 points from a ban.
Ultimately the blame lies with parliament for making the law complicated and with the authorities for not following it properly. “There are still loads of procedural problems with the way the police go about it,” says Miller. She argues that her activities and those of her colleagues encourage the police to take more care.
Katie Shephard, a spokeswoman for road safety charity Brake, says: “There are many loopholes in the law that can be exploited by those committing motoring offences. These need to be closed immediately to ensure justice for families and victims of road crashes.”
This is the real problem, says personal injury lawyer Colin Ettinger, a patron of RoadPeace. Motorists are entitled to legal representation and the lawyer’s duty is to his client, he says. Their concern is that when a clever solicitor does uncover a loophole, the government fails to do anything about closing it.
One area where it is not economical to use a lawyer is parking tickets (including clampings), but here it can be worth having a go yourself. Around 60% of appeals to the traffic penalty tribunal are allowed, a figure that reaches 73% in the separate London jurisdiction of the parking and traffic adjudicators, where you can have a face-to-face hearing. In many cases the appeal succeeds simply because the council does not bother contesting it, but people travel to the capital from all over the country to have their 15 minutes in front of an adjudicator.
Road rage, it seems, takes many forms, but if you are a lawyer interested in tapping into this, do be sure to have a snappy nickname lined up first.
Neil Rose is the editor of legalfutures.co.uk
- Mr Loophole makes daughter pay (autonetinsurance.co.uk)
- Cleared drivers face big bills after Tory U-turn (telegraph.co.uk)
- How MPs are making an illegal U-turn on protection for innocent motorists (blogs.confused.com)