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Paperless Justice: The Future for Minor Offences

James Watkins - Law on the Web

  1. 21 April 2015
  2. Cars and Motoring
  3. 0 comments
Issuing a plea online

When all is said and done, perhaps one of the lasting legacies of this government will be the changes they made to move services online, where they could be more easily accessible and freed from the tyranny of paper.

This is particularly evident in driving law, where we have already seen the demise of the car tax disc. Later this year, the DVLA wil stop issuing paper driving licences. Now, a new service has been launched to make the very wheels of justice grind a bit more quickly and efficiently – the online “Make a Plea” service.

What is the Make a Plea service?

If you have read and understood the words in the name, you are already halfway towards understanding the Make a Plea service. It allows drivers accused of minor road traffic offences to go online and enter a guilty or not guilty plea, sparing them from needing to go to court to enter their plea.

It is being rolled out across the country following a trial in Manchester last year. During the trial, a third of eligible defendants chose to use the service to give their plea.

Obviously, this makes things easier for the defendant – sparing yourself a court date will save you some hassle, and being able to enter a plea from your smartphone or tablet is easier than having to post a response to your Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP). Also, by using the service, you could have your fine reduced by 33%.

The service should create boons for the justice system, too. According to Justice Minister Shailesh Vara, the Make a Plea service will result in “less paper around, less use of people, less use of office space, and a whole variety of things that will actually save real money”.

While the scheme is currently only available for driving offences, it may eventually be expanded to be used for other summary offences.

How does it work?

The service can be used for summary (low-level and less serious) driving offences, such as speeding or driving without valid insurance. You will receive a Postal Requisition when you are summonsed to court – this is another name for a Magistrates’ Court summons.

When you receive this, you can log in to the Make a Plea service at using the information about your case and other information on your Postal Requisition. Once you have logged in, you can view any available information and evidence related to your case and enter your plea.

The system is secure and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can submit the plea at any time of the day, on any day of the week.

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