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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Seven Penalty Points can bar you from the Bench!

I have a confession to make! There have been two occasions during my driving career when I have hovered on 9 penalty points. Until they dropped off my licence; I was the most careful driver imaginable, much to the annoyance of the lines of traffic that often gathered behind me.

On one occasion I picked up 6 points in one trip. I was heading to a meeting in Burnley in very poor weather. I did not notice the speed camera that caught me doing 35 mph in the 30 mph zone. Much to my annoyance and to the amusement of my friends, I was caught by the same cameras as I headed in the opposite direction on my way home.

I am now safely on 3 points and hope to stay there.

Little did I know when I was happily driving through Burnley that I was jeopardising any potential judicial career. On the way into the town I was a fit and proper person to be a judge. By the time I left I wasn’t.

This was the unfortunate experience of Welsh Solicitor Graham Jones who was refused a Full Time job as a District Judge because he had 7 points on his licence! He was described as an outstanding candidate and would have got the job but for the points. He took Judicial Review proceedings against the JAC which have been dismissed. Leveson LJ said –

“In my judgment, the JAC is entitled to take the view that public confidence in the standards of the judiciary would not be maintained if persons who are appointed to judicial office have committed motoring offences resulting in penalty points at the level identified in the guideline within four years of their appointment.”

Apparently he is still a fit and proper person to continue to sit as a Deputy DJ and has been encourage to apply again, when the points have gone from his licence. If I was him I would tell them where to put their advice. Is it just me or does this just show a complete disengagement from the real world. If he is a good and competent judge why should be debarred from a judicial career because he might have missed a speed camera. And why should he be any more or less acceptable once the points have gone.

The confessions I just made will no doubt bar me for ever. I haven’t even mentioned the two fines I picked up during an epic drive through Queensland last year.  And I was so looking forward to spending the rest of my days striking out claims where lawyers made marginal errors!

The lesson is this. If you have any ambitions to be a judge drive carefully. Or at the very least choose the option of a speed awareness course – it could be a decision that saves your career.

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