Special Reasons Proof (The Law in Scotland)
The law in relation to Special Reasons Proofs is governed by Section 34(1) Road Traffic Offenders Act
Where a person is convicted of an offence involving obligatory disqualification the court must order him to be disqualified for such period not less than twelve months unless the court for “Special Reasons” thinks fit to order disqualification for a shorter period, or not to order disqualification, at all.
Where we have a situation involving obligatory endorsement of penalty points upon the driving licence a successful Special Reasons Proof can mean the court does not impose ANY penalty points.
In law a “Special Reason” is not something that you consider special to your personal circumstances but relates entirely to the actual offence and the circumstances of that offence. A Special Reason, does not mean that you are found not guilty if the reason is established. You will still be guilty of the offence but the punishment will be radically different from what it could have been.
A Special Reasons Proof is not soemthing that shoul dbe undertaken lightly and it is definelty not a matter of just turning up at court and stating to the court that the reasons surrounding your offence was “Special” I would strongly urge yyou to take legal advise from ourselves shoul dyou consider that you may have Special Reasons in your case that would avoid a ban or penalty points.
CAll us and a arrnage a free case consultation on 0800 612 9597 today .
Special reasons, particularly in relation to drink/drive cases, have generated a considerable body of case law in Scotland and England and will most common in cases such as:-
It is important to keep up to date with any developments in case law in this regard as it can provide the court with important ghuidance as they weigh up the overall interests of public safety in such cases.
In Scott -v- Hamilton the 1988 case reported in SCCR at 262, the Appeal court were clear that it would be difficult to imagine circumstances which justify the refusal to provide a specimen where required to do so.
Special Reasons can and often are established by uncorroborated evidence Watson -v- Adam 1996 JC 104 but the onus of proof is with the defence and must be on the Balance of Probabilities NOT Beyond all reasnoble doubt.
- Special Reasons:-
- Laced drinks
- the manner of driving;
- instructed by police to drive
In Chatters -v- Burke the English case some key question justices should ask themselves when assessing if such special reasons existed such as
1)The reason for the driving
2) Was their danger of coming into contact with other road users
3) How far was the vehicle driven
See Chatters -v- Burkle for al details and remember that they just provide some guidance in Scotland and are not authoritative.
The defence should also intimate to the Crown and the court that they will be seeking to advance special reasons. Failure to do so will entitle the prosecution not only to seek an adjournment but also to cross-examine the accused on his failure to give such notice so that the court may consider whether that failure reflected upon his bona fides, see DPP v O’Connor  RTR 66, an authority which is also helpful on the procedural requirements and the general approach to be adopted.
If the accused pleads guilty the appropriate procedure is for the accused or his solicitor to indicate at this time that the plea is qualified by the submission that Special Reasons exist and therefore the court may wish to set a proof for such Special Reasons to be heard in due course.
Do not expect to simply rely upon ex partie statements when you attend the proof. Whilst it is open to the Crown to accept ex partie statements as per McLeod -v- Scoular 1974 SLT (Notes) 74 the use of a Minute of Agreement is to be commended
When notice is given, you should try and agree as much evidence as possible. You should consider carefully:
- the nature of the special reason and the evidence (including expert evidence)
- how much of the evidence can be properly agreed;
- the issues raised by any defence expert