Cops can’t issue summons for ticketable offences

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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THE COURT of Appeal has upheld a judge’s ruling on the police’s power in the prosecution of ticketable traffic offences.

Police officers cannot issue a summons for such offences, as the Appeal Court says there is a special process for the prosecution of such cases and there is no discretion to issue a separate charge and summons.

Tuesday’s ruling by Justices Nolan Bereaux, Mark Mohammed and Vasheist Kokaram settles the issue of the power of the police to charge drivers for a ticketable offence.

The Appeal Court was asked by the Attorney General to reverse the findings of a High Court judge that the a police who stopped a woman in 2013, did not have the power to issue a summons for her to appear in court on the offence, because he did not have a ticket book at the time.

In his ruling in 2017, Justice Kevin Ramcharan dismissed the State’s contention that the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic (Enforcement and Administration) Act, and the Police Service Act empowered police to issue a summons for a fixed penalty notice.

The Enforcement Act provides for the issuing of a notice to pay a fixed penalty (ticket) for various minor traffic offences. Under the Act, a fixed penalty notice is deemed to be a summons.

In Lisa Patricia Brown’s case, she was not issued a ticket but a summons to attend court.

She successfully argued in the High Court that she was not given the option to pay the fixed penalty but instead was required to attend court.

Ramcharan held the policeman’s actions constituted a breach of Brown’s rights to equality of treatment and protection of the law.

Ramcharan’s declarations were upheld, however, his order of compensation for the woman was said to be “plainly wrong” as such an order would be inappropriate.

Bereaux said it would scandalise the law if an award was made for the breach of rights which occurred from a probable breach of the law on the driver’s part. Bereaux said declaratory relief was sufficient in this case.

Brown was represented by attorneys David Rajkumar and Nazima Ali Knox while Rachael Thurab appeared for the State.