Where the driver of company vehicle is caught committing a motoring offence and is not stopped at the time of the offence a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) is sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle which is usually the Company Secretary or Director.
The Company has a duty to name the driver of the vehicle at the material time, or to show that it exercised reasonable diligence in attempting to establish the identity of the driver. Failure to name the driver and/or show reasonable diligence will result in an offence contrary to section 172 being committed. In short, this amounts to the Company having to keep records and being able to evidence a paper-trial to identify the driver.
What amounts to ‘reasonable diligence’ will depend upon the size and circumstances of the particular Company. For example, if the Company runs one vehicle and has two drivers it may be reasonable to demonstrate a failure to keep detailed detailed records as to who might have been the driver at the material time is sufficient to establish a defence. In the alternative, where a Company runs a fleet of vehicles driven by multiple drivers, a Court may consider it unreasonable not to keep precise records of exactly who drove a particular vehicle at a particular time.
An example of failing to show due diligence is the case of Record Tower Cranes v Gisbey where the Court determined that inquiring of only 12 out of a possible 25 drivers of a company vehicle did not show reasonable diligence. It can therefore be seen that the obligations are greater for a large company to demonstrate reasonable diligence.
Moreover the stakes can be high – if a Company is found guilty of an offence under section 172 of failing to provide the details of a driver at the time of an alleged motoring offence, the Court will be directed to consider the turnover of the Company when considering the fine to impose. In certain circumstances if Company Director or officer is found to have shown neglect or connivance in the commission of any offence under section 172, that individual can be prosecuted and face the imposition of 6 penalty points on their driving licence. A company however can not be awarded penalty points by a Court given that it does not hold a driving licence.
#1 Motoring Solicitors advise Companies of all sizes in respect of the management of fleets of company vehicles – please get in touch if you require advice in respect of your Company’s liability when considering any motoring offence.