M6/42 Variable Speed Limit Signage – Legality Challenge

 

Update (6th October 2013) – Please note that the issues addressed within this article have now been considered before Leamington Spa Magistrates Court on 26th July 2013 and the court has ruled that those persons who pleaded guilty to offences occurring prior to 27th November 2013 (to which these signage issues relate), will not be allowed to re-open their cases before the Magistrates Court. If however, you still wish to challenge any such conviction there remains an option to challenge the courts decision by way of judicial review to the High Court. Please see our article entitled “M6/M42 Variable Speed Limit Signage  – Applications to Re-Open Declined”.

If you wish to discuss any other matter in connection with an on-going prosecution before Leamington Spa Magistrates Court for an offence relating to the M42/M6 Variable Speed Cameras, please contact us to discuss how we can help.

Further to our press coverage on the BBC, Sky News and BBC Radio 5, in which the legality of speeding convictions relating to offences contrary to the variable speed limit on the M42 and M6 were questioned, we provide the following background, update and opinion on these matters:

In November 2012, Warwickshire Police became aware that the Advanced Motorway Indicators (AMI’s) operated on the M6 toll and M42, particularly those between junctions 7-9, which display the variable speed limit in force (30,40,50 and 60) and which is used in conjunction with speed cameras (HADECS cameras) did not comply with the relevant traffic sign regulations (Traffic Signs Regulation and General Directions 2002), in that they were not prescribed or authorised (the size and shape of the signage was incorrect). In view of this Warwickshire Police decided to suspend all ongoing prosecutions arising from these Advanced Motorway Indicators. This view was subsequently followed by the Crown Prosecution Service who suspended prosecutions and ultimately terminated prosecutions against all affected individuals who had ongoing cases up until 27th November 2012.

On 27th November 2012, the Highways Agency which is responsible for maintaining and operated these cameras obtained the correct authorisation for the signage used from the Secretary of State. This means that prosecutions arising from these cameras after this date are not affected by this issue.

It is our view that Warwickshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service acted properly in ceasing prosecutions upon becoming aware of this issue and thereafter of discontinuing ongoing prosecutions against people who were prosecuted in connection with the defective signage.

The question however, remains as to what recourse or justice is now to be given to those many thousands of motorists who were convicted before this error was noticed by the police and prosecution and prior to this issue being corrected on 27th November 2012.

Unfortunately, with regards to those persons who have been convicted following a guilty plea before the magistrates’ court or who have accepted a fixed penalty notice (FPN), there is no straight forward solution to this issue as the courts are quite often slow to interfere in convictions where guilt has clearly been accepted by the individual.

At Caddick Davies Solicitors we are presently considering the correct approach to take with a view to assisting our clients and the motoring public at large, which will include liaising with Warwickshire Police and the CPS to seek their views and may ultimately extend to applications to Magistrates, Crown and High Court.

As always it will be our objective to seek a just and equitable outcome for our clients, however we do wish to make clear that as a firm we in no way condone speeding, however we do believe that the prosecution of motorists should be fair and transparent.

 Neil Davies, Principal Solicitor

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