A TOTAL of eight cases were struck out by a District Court judge in Bandon recently, after each of the defendants said they hadn’t received their fixed penalty notice.
Judge David Waters struck out the summons arising out of speeding charges at Murragh, Enniskeane and adjourned several more cases to April.
The issue was commented on last year by Judge James McNulty when he said there had been an ‘epic’ waste of both the courts’ and garda time regarding the speeding fines system and he said at the time he intended to list all these cases for this April 1st and get the Dept of Justice and the Dept of Transport to come to court. It would be a long day of citizens saying they’re not getting the fines posted out to them, he said.
There have been several cases in the interim, of defendants or solicitors saying the fixed charge notices, which are now posted to defendants, had not been received. In each case, the defendant went into the witness box to make the claim, and the judge was left with no choice but to strike out the case.
A total of 56 days is permitted by law for the payment of a fixed penalty notice with an initial period of 28 days from the date of the fixed charge penalty for payment at the fixed charge amount. A further period of 28 days is permitted to accept payment at that amount, plus 50% extra. After 56 days, payment cannot be accepted under any circumstances.
Responding to a query about what may be a loophole in the law, the Department of Justice said there would soon be a ‘third payment option’ for those detected of speeding offences, but they did not reference the suggested ‘loophole’ in the law.
The Department of Transport said that from June 1st when a motorist is issued with a summons there will be attached to it a final chance to pay the fixed charge and avoid a court appearance.
West Cork’s Chief Supt Con Cadogan said he welcomes the new leglisation which he said would give people a third chance to pay a fine and thus avoid court altogether, and he added it would free up gardaí from attending court to deal with summonses arising from the non-payment of these fines.
This article appeared in the Southern Star issue of March 11th.