Ordinary building contracts are all about fire-fighting. You dash hither and thither “sorting”. You dash and sort the subby, you dash and sort the architect, you dash and sort that half-baked twerp who thinks “more labour” comes out of a magic cupboard or the boot of your company car. So let’s have a chat not about building contract law, but about my little hacksaw. It’s in the boot of my car and when no one is watching I am going to take that little hacksaw out and sneak up on a speed camera near Cambridge and saw the bloody thing off. Yes, you guessed it, one of these damnable devices has nicked me. It sneaked out of the hedge on a country lane when I was dashing about and clocked 72 mph in a 60 limit. Livid? You bet. £40 and three points, that’s what. Criminal offence, that’s what. Speeding is a crime and our big mate John Prescott, friend of the building industry, is gunning for high-speed surveyors, builders and architects.
To add insult to injury, I changed my car last week and filled in the insurance form, having to declare the blot on the hitherto clean landscape of my driving licence. The insurance laddie announced that this one miserable smudge, these three points for speeding, jacked up my car insurance premium by 37%. I kid you not.
What’s the law? Under S23 of the Road Traffic Act 1991, devices such as authorised cameras are made lawful. Two photographs are taken to verify the offence when the vehicle is travelling above the prosecution threshold. Then a notice of prosecution must be sent to the registered keeper. If that is your company or leasing company, it is the company’s responsibility to contact the driver or inform the prosecuting authority who the driver was. It is a criminal offence for the registered keeper not to disclose this information, if he knows, or could reasonably know, who the driver was. Once informed upon, the usual penalty is the fixed fine of £40, plus endorsement. Once your licence is received, it may transpire that you are liable for disqualification under the “totting” rules and must now appear in the magistrates’ court for trial and sentence.
The insurance laddie announced that these three points for speeding jacked up my car insurance premium by 37%
The snag is that speed has infiltrated all aspects of modern life. Speed is desired, valued and attractive. I bet you know the 0-60 time in your car. The snag, too, is that most of us do not see occasions when we exceed the speed limit as dangerous. We feel in control in our Mondeo, that little harm will befall us, that we are more skilful than the average and accidents are more likely to happen to us as passengers than as drivers. Against this, the state sees the speed camera as having the primary purpose of speed reduction on a particular stretch of road and having a secondary purpose of reducing speed generally.
So, those who know what to do about our love of cars, our love of speed and our lack of interest in safety, have stepped on the gas. Get this: if you have a clean driving licence and if you are an ordinary driver, “they” are out to get you, and you won’t have a clean licence long. These cameras have been dotted about the land since 1993. Most of them had no film in, and those that were fired up had a trigger speed higher than the speed limit for that road. Gone, all gone. The cameras are real flashers, the threshold is zero tolerance. Your licence, your company car, your job as a dashing surveyor are up for grabs.
Tony Bingham is a barrister and arbitrator specialising in construction. You can write to him at 3 Paper Buildings, Temple, London EC4 7EU, or e-mail him on firstname.lastname@example.org.