Law Enforcement
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Notification of Intended Prosecution (NIP)

If you have not been stopped by the Police and cautioned, because for example your offence is one where the evidence has been obtained by camera, before any further action can be taken, the prosecution or more often the Process Department, have to give you appropriate warning of the offence by way of a Notice of Intended Prosecution, commonly known as a NIP. The document has to be in a certain format and comply with certain regulations, as stipulated by Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

It will be assumed, unless evidence is brought to the contrary, that the prosecution has complied with these requirements and any challenge, whether it be in relation to the accuracy of the Notice, correct service or any other failing, is for the Defendant to prove.

NB The subject matter within this page is merely a guide and we would suggest that in the event of receiving a Notice of Intended Prosecution, you seek legal advice.

When would I receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
The following offences require (under Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988) that you be given notice of the fact that you may be prosecuted:-

In many cases the NIP will be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle in question, if it has not been stopped by a Police Officer. This could mean the notice being received by a hire company, or the operator of the vehicle. In these cases, it is the responsibility of the recipient to notify the Police via the form received requesting the relevant information.

All Employers are legally bound to disclose to the police information relating to drivers of company vehicles.

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What form should the notice take?
The form can be in many guises and can be:

If you have not been given the notice within 14 days (ignoring the day of the offence) then the authorities cannot proceed against you unless an exception applies (see below).

The following exceptions apply:

Do I need to respond to a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
Under European legislation and now our own Human Rights Act, the answer was thought to be 'No'. There was a loophole, but this has been closed by the courts. The legal loophole we refer to concerned the Privy Council ruling in the case of Margaret Brown (5th December 2000).

Prior to their ruling there had been lower court decisions in both Scotland and England, which indicated that asking drivers to confirm whether they were the driver of the car at the time of an offence was contrary to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and was therefore illegal. Without such evidence many speed camera prosecutions would simply fail as the driver could not be established.

However the five law lords, sitting as the Privy Council, which is now the final court of appeal on devolution cases from Scotland, have now ruled that such evidence is admissible, as the driver's right to a fair trial and privacy has to be balanced with the right to safety of the wider community.
Therefore the answer here is Yes you need to respond to an NIP.

Do I have to sign the Notice of Intended Prosecution?
Many people have returned their NIP forms without signature and have tried to argue (through their barrister) that without the signature it cannot follow that the individual can be prosecuted. This is not the case however. If you fail to sign the NIP then in essence you are in breach of the Act by failing to supply the name of the driver of the vehicle and can be prosecuted for this offence.
In all instances, we would avise 'Yes' to signing of the NIP. We say this in light of the many cases that have gone before the courts - see the case of Idris Francis (March 2004) below:

Mr Francis, a retired company director, was caught speeding on 11 March, 2003, on the A325 in Hampshire, by a speed camera. When the case came to court, magistrates could not convict him of speeding, as he had not signed the form identifying himself as the driver - rendering it inadmissible in court. Instead the vintage car owner, of West Meon, near Winchester, was fined £60 with £364 costs and given three penalty points on his licence for failing to identify the driver.

Further Reading
For further information on the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, please use the link below.

Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 - Office of Public Sector Information

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