How To Make A Statutory Declaration
Making a Statutory Declaration
We are often asked how do you go about making a Statutory Declaration at the Magistrates’ Court? This is normally in relation to our clients who have been convicted of road traffic offences without realising.
It normally transpires that this has happened because either our client has an extremely poor postal service to their home address or they have moved addresses and the V5 (log book) for the vehicle has not been updated.
When this happens you can either make an application for the case to be re-opened under Section 142 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act (see our page in that regard) or you can ask the Court to hear a Statutory Declaration.
Allowing you to make an application to re-open a case is at the Magistrates discretion.
Making a Statutory Declaration within 21 days of finding out that you have been convicted of an offence without your knowledge is not subject to the discretion of the Magistrates. The Magistrates can refuse to allow you to make a Statutory Declaration more than 21 days after you have found out about the conviction but they cannot refuse you the opportunity to make a Statutory Declaration within that period.
If the Magistrates do not believe the declaration that you are making (and you have to swear the declaration on oath) then they can warn you about the offence of perjury and you should take such a warning seriously.
If you find out that you have been convicted of an offence without realising, then you have to act fast. At the same time as asking the Court to list the case for a Statutory Declaration to be made, we will often lodge a Leave to Appeal to the Crown Court, (normally out of time) just in case refuses for some reason to hear the declaration.
Each case depends on its individual circumstances and if this has happened to you then you will need urgent specific advice relevant to the facts of your case.
Making a Statutory Declaration sets aside the conviction. The Magistrates can then either re-list the case, based on an indication from you that it is your intention to plead not guilty to the original matter. If the Court adopts this approach, then your case will simply be adjourned to a new date for you to attend for trial.
Sometimes when you make a Statutory Declaration, the Court will simply accept that declaration and send you on your way. This does not mean that the matter is over and done with. The Court notifies the Crown Prosecution Service that the Statutory Declaration has been made and the vast majority of the time the Crown Prosecution Service will lay in fresh information for the original offence and the proceedings will start over again.
You will then receive a Summons and you will have to attend and indicate whether or not you plead guilty or not guilty. We have had many cases in the past where people have made Statutory Declarations because they did not receive the Summons and have not notified the Court of their up to date address and then proceedings have been re-issued to their old incorrect address.
We have had a number of people who have had to go through the Statutory Declaration exercise on a number of occasions in relation to the same case.
When you make a Statutory Declaration, the limitation period (in road traffic offences is normally 6 months) disappears. Therefore the Prosecution are allowed to instigate fresh motoring offence proceedings even though it is more than 6 months from the original offence.
Most of the cases that we deal with that require Statutory Declarations are allegations of failing to provide driver information. Our clients will have been convicted in absence of this offence and the original speeding matter will have been withdrawn.
It is strongly argued that when you make a Statutory Declaration, the Court do not have the power to re-open the ‘withdrawal’ of the original speeding matter. Lots of Courts tend to do this and in our view that this approach is wrong in law. Again, you will need extra advice in this regard if this has happened to you.
If you need help making a Statutory Declaration or you are worried about the proceedings to which the Statutory Declaration relates, then please contact us or call in for urgent advice.
If you need advice about your alleged motoring offence please click here to ASK US A FREE QUESTION and find out how we can help you.