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?
- What form should the notice take?
- Do I need to respond to a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
- Do I have to sign the Notice of Intended Prosecution?
- Further Reading
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:-
- Dangerous Driving
- Careless & Inconsiderate driving
- Leaving a vehicle in a dangerous place
- Failing to conform with the indication of a police officer when directing traffic
- Failing to comply with a traffic sign
- Exceeding temporary speed restrictions imposed by Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984
- Exceeding speed restrictions on a special road
- Exceeding temporary speed limit imposed by order
- Speeding offences generally
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.
What form should the notice take?
The form can be in many guises and can be:
- given verbally at the time of the offence, or
- by a summons being served on the offender within 14 days of commission of the offence, or
- a notice of intended prosecution, specifying the nature of the offence and the time and place where it is alleged to have been committed, must be served on the offender, or the registered keeper of the vehicle at the time of the offence, within 14 days of the offence. These provisions are deemed to have been complied with unless or until the contrary has been proved (ie you will have to raise it).
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:
- no such notice is required if a full or provisional fixed penalty notice has been given or fixed under the Provisions of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988
- a notice sent by post must be dispatched so that it would reach the driver within the 14 days within the ordinary course of the post. If this is the case then it will have been deemed to have been served even if it is delivered outside the 14 day period.
- if there is an accident involving the vehicle in question, of which the driver is aware, then the police do not need to provide a Notice of Intended Prosecution.
- failure to comply is no bar where the police could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained the name and address of the accused in time for service of the summons or notice within the 14 day period, or the accused contributed to such failure. (This situation might apply if you drive a hire car, company car or you were not the registered keeper)
- service of a notice at the last known address of the accused will suffice for good service.
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:
For further information on the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, please use the link below.