PF v Kelly Ferguson 2019

Ms Ferguson has had her appeal at the Sheriff Appeal Court dismissed after arguing there were special reasons for her driving without insurance. Ms Ferguson pled guilty to the charge on the 7 March 2019 at the Justice of the Peace Court in Glasgow. However, her solicitor indicated that she had special reasons for acting in this way, therefore a special reasons proof to argue this point was assigned for the end of the month.

However, the appellant thereafter failed to attend the special reasons proof on six occasions and therefore the Justice sentenced her in her absence. In August 2019 the Justice would not allow her solicitor a further adjournment and sentenced the complainer to 6 penalty points and a fine of £270 discounted from £300 for her guilty plea. The appellant argues that the justice had no acted competently in sentencing her when she was not present but the Sheriff Appeal court did not agree. The complainer’s argument was that she was a young woman with health concerns who struggled to attend court and it was not competent to sentence her when she was not present. It was submitted by her legal team the matter could have been adjourned further or even a warrant granted for Ms Ferguson’s arrest.

However, the Sheriff Appeal Court concluded: “The onus is on the complainer who has been convicted of the offence to bring forward material at proof to satisfy the Justice of the Peace that special reasons exist which would allow the Justice to refrain from endorsing and imposing penalty points… In our opinion, the interests of justice have been met by the court offering a series of opportunities to the complainer to discharge the onus of satisfying the court as to special reasons… The Justice of the Peace was entitled to proceed to sentence and is correct to observe, as she does, in her report that “In the absence of special reasons being established by the appellant and was obliged to endorse her driving record.”” The bill of suspension therefore could not proceed.