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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 71136
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I have received a summons to answer the charge I was keeper

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I have received a summons to answer the charge I was keeper of a motor vehicle vehicle which did not meet insurance requirements. The date of the offence was beginning of December last year.
I intend to plead not guilty and would like to make sure my defence actually has a chance of success before I do so.
Any other advice or thoughts on the evidence I will require would be helpful too.
In March last year, the car was taxed, insured and just had an MOT when the head gasket blew and the car had to be recovered to a local garage. This is where the car would stay. The car has never been repaired. As the garage claims to have changed ownership whilst the car has been sitting there. The issue of the liability for repair is not of concern for the moment. But the garage stated in a letter though there was no signature, that they would not repair the vehicle on 12th December. Offence was dated as 3rd.
The repair work for the car never really got going. As after two weeks I was told it would be cheaper to replace the engine. And I saw the car in early may, without an engine.
Soon after that due to a change of address I missed a renewal letter from my insurance company and the took the liberty of choosing a policy with over three times the premium of what I had been paying for me. I immediately cancelled and refused to pay.
I did not then insure the car. As it was not in public roads and did not meet the definition of a motor car. That being "a mechanically propelled vehicle"
I did receive a penalty notice around October, which I honestly thought I had paid. Due to that, and the letter I received regarding changes to Road tax some time early in the new year, I did then sorn the vehicle. As I had the necessary code to do it online. Whereas before I had no access to the car due to falling out with the garage owner and did not have the log book or VIN number.
In answer to the charge that on 3rd of December 2014 I was the registered keeper if a vehicle which did not meet insurance requirements contrary to section 144A(1) of the road traffic act 1998, I intend to plead not guilty. As I believe that the car at the time of the offence and for the duration of the period it remained uninsured, the car did not meet any definition of a motor vehicle, as it had no mode of propulsion, after having its engine, removed abd dismantled.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What would you like to know about this please?
Also, I see you have not yet left feedback for a previous answer so I wonder if you could do that now?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi thanks for that, I didnt realise I hadn't.

Yes, I would like to know if, in your opinion, my defence could be successful based in the facts I have presented.

Or if it would be wiser to plead guilty (if there are some factors I have not considered) using the above as some sort of mitigating circumstance perhaps.

Did you SORN the vehicle during this time?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No, I actually didn't think to until the fine came, because although it was such a long time the garage had the car. I was expecting it to be repaired and countless I was told "it will be ready friday/Monday" etc.

AAfter receiving the penalty notice I couldn't get access to the vehicle to get vin number, and as far as I know the log book must be in the car.

Once I got the notification with the reference number to use, I did. But that was 5th of feb

That is all I need to know.
I'm afraid the rules have changed. It used to be possible to avoid an insurance renewal by keeping a vehicle off road but the rules have changed. Now you have a duty to keep the vehicle continuously insured whether on road or off road unless you SORN it.
You can always contest this on the basis that it did not meet the definition of a motor car. That is a question of fact. To be wholly honest, I wouldn't suggest doing that. They will almost certainly say that it is a mechanically propelled vehicle that was just undergoing repairs. Vehicles can be immobilised for lots of reasons. It doesn't mean that it isn't a vehicle within the meaning of the RTA.
Also, I rather suspect a Magistrates Court would just say that you should have SORNed it.
You can always make written representations to them to the effect that this is not in the public interest to prosecute but it would be dangerous to start contesting this upon facts I'm afraid.
Sorry if that is bad news
Can I clarify anything for you?
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