A recent Sheriff Appeal Court decision highlights how proceedings brought under the Road Traffic Act 1998 can be a long and arduous process, and that even when trials are fixed for a specific date they are subject to delay.
The complainer had been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in contravention of section 5(1)(a) of the 1998 Act. This was aggravated by the fact the he was also on bail.
Proceedings had become prolonged in the case due to health of both the complainer and a police officer, who was the respondent’s main witness. The case was adjourned for a first time on 29 November 2017 due to the complainer’s health. The complainer’s health led to a further delay to the second trial in January 2018.
By March 2018, the respondent had become concerned about the health of the officer who was a witness in the case. In total the trial was adjourned five times, and when the trial was adjourned for a sixth time, the complainer submitted his Bill of Advocation to the court.
In refusing the Bill, the Sheriff Appeal Court held that the sheriff at the trial dated 26 June 2018 had weighed all necessary considerations and had not made a decision that no reasonable sheriff could have made (Paterson v McPherson). Despite the fact that the sheriff at the previous hearing stated that it would be the final decision the sheriff was not bound by that decision.
The sheriff had concluded that the witnesses’ evidence was required to prove the charge in the absence of the evidence, and that given the charge was an aggravated offence there were factors to consider that allowed the sheriff discretion to make the decision to adjourn.
This shows how long and arduous court procedure can be. At Jackson Boyd, you can be assured that you will be represented by a solicitor with the experience to guide you through the process.