Single Justice Procedure Notice (SJPN)
Notice & Paperwork
What is a Single Justice Procedure Notice?
A Single Justice Procedure Notice is a process used by most Police Forces to commence Court proceedings for motoring offences. The assumption is most cases will be resolved by a guilty plea and written mitigation which will be considered by a Magistrate without a formal hearing. This results in a more convenient and prompt conclusion for the motorist.
You should receive:
- Details of the allegation(s), by either a Statement of Facts or Witness evidence; and
- A Response Pack, to include a Plea Form and Statement of Means (MC100 Form).
What should I pay attention to?
Check all dates are correct and make a note of the time limit to reply (21 days from when the Notice was generated and despatched).
Make sure that you understand the allegation(s) detailed on the Charge Sheet.
There is no requirement for evidence to be served at this stage, but some Police forces will supply it. If evidence has been served, read the statements and consider whether they are accurate. If you have a Statement of Facts, you are unlikely to have received evidence to support the offences. Typically, for a speeding offence, the Statement of Facts will set out where and when the incident occurred, the speed limit and the speed recorded. If you agree with the information detailed and admit the offence, the Court will consider only that statement and your mitigation.
Notifying Your Insurers
It makes sense to advise your insurers as soon as you receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice. That way, you will not have any problems if any claims arise whilst you are waiting for the Court to deal with matters.
What are my options?
What are my options when replying?
When replying to the Single Justice Procedure Notice, your options are:
Plead Guilty by letter or online
If you admit the allegation, as set out the Single Justice Procedure Notice, you should plead guilty from the outset. The Court will consider your response to include your circumstances and mitigation before deciding on a penalty. Whilst most cases are resolved in the recipient's absence, the Court can still demand a personal attendance. The most common reason for a personal attendance is because the Court is considering either an instant disqualification due to the severity of the offence or the penalty points would take you to 12+ points which triggers a 6 month totting up ban.
Plead Guilty / Request a Court hearing
You should request a Court hearing in the following circumstances:
In some cases, you may admit the offence but not the allegation as detailed. For example, you admit you were speeding but dispute you were going as fast as alleged. In those circumstances, you should plead guilty but ask for a Newton Hearing, which allow you to challenge the severity of the allegation. It is very sensible to obtain guidance and advice before you enter a plea in these circumstances as you need to fully understand how the process will change and what needs to be done.
In some situations, whilst you are technically guilty of the allegation, you may be able to prevent a penalty if the circumstances of the offence made it impossible to avoid. This is known as a special reasons submission and it would be sensible to investigate the prospects of success by seeking legal advice before you reply to the Court.
Totting Up Ban
You are at risk of a 6 month totting up disqualification and want to present an exceptional hardship submission to prevent a ban.
You are a New Driver at risk of automatic revocation of your licence and you want to present a submission to the Court to avoid retaking your driving test.
Plead not Guilty / Request a Trial
If you dispute the allegation, tick the relevant box indicating a not guilty plea, set out briefly the basis of that Plea, what witness evidence is disputed, and the Court will then set a date for trial.
Is it disrespectful to reply by post or online?
No. The Magistrates fully understand that if you deal with matters in writing, no discourtesy is intended. Rest assured, if the Magistrates feel that the incident is serious enough to justify or require a personal attendance, you will be notified accordingly.
What if I don't know how to plead?
If you do not understand the allegation, or whether you are guilty or not guilty, seek legal advice now so that you can receive expert guidance on the correct approach. Investing in advice before replying to the Notice will undoubtedly save you time and money in the long run.
If I face a totting up ban, why do I have the option to reply by post or online?
Your case / driving record is not reviewed when the Single Justice Procedure is issued, it only comes to the Court's attention when the 21 day response time has expired. As soon as the Court is aware that you face a totting up ban, a hearing date will be allocated.
I am guilty of the offence
Can I influence the penalty?
Yes. You have the option to present a Plea of Mitigation, which, subject to the incident and your personal circumstances, can:
- Reduce the amount of the fine / increase the length of time allowed to pay;
- Reduce penalty points to the lower end of the scale (if the penalty is not fixed);
- Satisfy the Magistrates there is no need for a Court appearance;
- If you are at risk of an instant ban, persuade the Court to impose points instead;
- If more than one offence is alleged, convince the Magistrates to impose points for one charge only;
Should I seek legal advice?
Yes. If you elect to plead guilty, it makes sense to obtain some guidance regarding mitigation, as what you believe may be relevant, could be different to what the Court is expecting. We can also minimise the penalty and resolve matters quickly and without hassle for you.
What happens after I reply?
Once the 21 day response time has expired, the Court will review your case and will write to you within approximately 7-10 days thereafter. The Court will either:
Accept mitigation / impose penalty
Allocate a Court hearing
If your Plea and mitigation is accepted, a penalty / fine will be imposed and the case is then concluded, albeit that you would need to notify your insurers of the outcome.
The Court will send you a Summons on referral to Court if:
You requested a hearing
- The Court is considering disqualification
Either the case is too serious to impose penalty points or you face a 6 month totting up ban (as you will reach 12+ points). In either situation, the Court will demand your personal attendance so that consideration can be given to whether a disqualification is appropriate.
If the Court is unclear on your Plea or has concluded that you may have a defence that you are unaware of.
Issue a Notice of Proposed Disqualification
Having been convicted of the offence, the Court is considering disqualification due to the severity of the offence or you face a 6 month totting up ban (as you will reach 12+ points). The purpose of the Notice is to give you a final opportunity to request a hearing to present a submission to avoid / reduce disqualification. If you do not respond or request a hearing, the Court can and will disqualify you in your absence.
Pleading not guilty
Can I request the evidence?
There is no obligation upon the Police to supply any evidence before a not guilty plea is entered at Court, even then, the onus is upon you to request information. You can ask for evidence before Court proceedings or entering a plea, and occasionally it will be served with the Single Justice Single Notice, but it is entirely at the discretion of the Police whether they co-operate at that stage.
Why should I seek advice before replying?
If you dispute the allegation, obtain guidance before you enter a pela. It is essential that you fully understand the law, what will be required of you and how the case will commence. If you do not comply with the legal requirements, you could be convicted by default, so it is sensible to obtain assistance / advice at the first opportunity.
What happens next if I plead "not guilty"?
The Court will allocate a date to one of the following types of Court hearings:
- Pre-trial review
The trial is the full hearing of the case at which the Court will decide whether the offence is proved. You will need to attend to present your defence, cross examine the witnesses and raise any technical arguments, precedents etc. Whilst you can represent yourself, it makes sense to obtain guidance and advice well before a trial date.
The Magistrates will use the hearing to clarify the issues and agree how to progress the case before trial.
Replying to the Notice
How do I Reply?
The Notice provided should clarify the process, but you can respond either:
- By post; or
- Online at www.gov.uk/make-a-plea;
What paperwork/information do I need?
You should have to hand the following:
- The Single Justice Procedure Notice, sent by the Police;
- Your driving licence;
- Your National Insurance number (online only);
- Details of your income/outgoings. e.g. rent or mortgage, household bills etc.;
What if I cannot find my driving licence?
You do not need the physical copy of your driving licence, all you need to know is your driving licence number.
Will the Court help me with my case?
The Court can help you fill out the form online, but Court staff cannot advise you on how to deal with your case or give you legal advice. The Court cannot and will not guide you on your Plea or mitigation.
What is the helpline telephone number?
The Plead Online helpline number is: 0300 063 2140. The staff can guide you through using the Plead Online service. It covers only how to deal with the administrative process, it does not assist regarding the offence, penalties, plea etc.
What is the Single Justice Procedure Timeline?
Single Justice Procedure
Deadline: 6 months
The Police have 6 months to commence proceedings from the date of the offence.
On Receipt of Notice
- Check time limits
- Review allegations & evidence
- Consider Plea
- Inform Insurers
Respond to Notice
Deadline: 21 days from issue / despatch
Your options are:
Plead Guilty by Post / Online
- Plea of Mitigation
- Statement of Means
Plead Guilty / Attend Court
- Special Reasons
- Dispute the severity alleged (Newton Hearing)
- Exceptional Hardship (totting up)
- Avoid revocation of licence (new driver)
Plead NOT Guilty / Attend Court
- Detail outline of defence
- Confirm witnesses
Court Reviews Case
Approximately 7-14 days after 21 day deadline
Subject to your Plea, the Court will action the case as follows:
Guilty Plea Online / Post
The Court will either:
- Accept mitigation & impose a penalty; or
- Allocate a hearing date; or
- Issue a Notice of Proposed Disqualification;
Guilty / Attendance Requested
- Allocate a hearing date
NOT Guilty / Attendance Requested
- Allocate trial date or pre-trial review
Conclusion of Case
- Pay fine
- Inform insurers of penalty
If found NOT Guilty
- Claim for costs
- Inform insurers of outcome