Summary Telephone Advice £40 + VAT

Not Guilty Pleas/Newton Hearing


If you wish to plead not guilty or challenge specific aspects of the allegation (Newton hearing), Motor Lawyers can fully prepare your case and arrange specialist representation.

Before committing to a not guilty/Newton trial, prompt assistance can clarify whether your intended plea is viable. To establish the merits of the allegation, prospects of success and the best course of action, Motor Lawyers will discuss the case with you and consider available evidence via the Summary Advice service. The initial charge is £40 + VAT for a 20 minute telephone discussion and case review. This allows us to go through the initial issues with you in order to give a realistic appraisal of the prospects of success.

If we agree that there are reasonable prospects for successfully defending the case, we will clarify the anticipated cost of preparation/representation, time structures etc. so that you may make a reasoned decision as to how to proceed. We will credit the initial fee against any further service.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I instruct Motor Lawyers to defend a case on a not guilty basis?

You should utilise the initial not guilty advice service. Send over the documents that you have received, process payment and confirm when you will be available to discuss the case. We will then allocate the matter and arrange to call you in order to go through the case, clarify the prospects of success and agree a set fee. This initial service will take about 20–30 minutes. There is no obligation to proceed thereafter and if you do wish to instruct Motor Lawyers, we will credit the initial fee against any further service.

Why can you not confirm the amount of the fees from the outset and progress the case?

The reason that we deal with matters via the 30 minute initial not guilty advice is in order to clarify the prospects of success and whether, indeed, it is in your best interests to progress a not guilty case. Only once we are satisfied of the merits of the matter can we confirm a fee structure. There is no benefit to a client in progressing straight to a not guilty service if it is apparent that their case is not strong enough to be successful or an alternative service would be more appropriate. Clearly, we want to obtain the best possible result for you but, if it is apparent that despite our best efforts, you are unlikely to win, then there is no point fighting the case, so we will advise you accordingly.

Can Motor Lawyers refuse to take a not guilty case on?

Yes. If we genuinely do not believe that there are viable prospects of successfully defending a case, then we will not accept instructions. It is not in your interests to fight a case that you cannot win and we would not be providing a worthwhile service if we did not warn you of those concerns.

Why can you not confirm a fixed fee without seeing the papers or discussing the case with me?

Until we have seen the evidence and gone through the issues, we do not know the nature of the case and are unable to estimate the amount of time/work that will be required. By going through the case with you initially via the 30 minute initial advice service, we can clarify these issues and then confirm fees and payment structure.

If I win the case, will I get my costs back?

If the case is successfully defended, we will make a request for a Costs Order. This can be granted at the discretion of the Court and is normally obtained. However, costs are subject to assessment by the Court's Taxing Office and, since October 2012, the rates allowed are drastically below those that were previously recoverable. As a result, the probability is that you will not recover your costs in full and, indeed, should expect to receive about 25% to 40% of your costs.

Why are costs reduced and will Motor Lawyers not limit their fees to those allowed by the Taxing Office?

The costs allowed by the Taxing Office are based on Legal Aid rates. Motor Lawyers do not work on Legal Aid rates and cannot provide an expert and commercially viable service at the figures currently allowed by the Court. Whilst we will refund in full any fees recovered, those costs will be lower than the rates charged to you.

Can you proceed on a no win, no fee basis?

No. No win, no fee agreements are not allowed for cases of this nature. One of the reasons for this is the Courts believe that it would lead to spurious defences and inappropriate not guilty pleas, resulting in delays, more use of the Court's time etc.

What is the difference between a Newton hearing and a not guilty plea?

A Newton hearing is the process followed where the Defendant pleads guilty to the allegation, but wishes to challenge aspects of the severity of the offence. For example, on a speeding offence, the Defendant may accept that he was travelling in excess of the speed limit but, disputes the speed alleged and wishes to challenge that aspect of the case in order to minimise the punishment.

Why is it that Newton hearings are also dealt with on the same basis as not guilty pleas?

The reason that we progress Newton hearings via the not guilty services is because, for all intents and purposes, a similar amount of work and process is required. We need to establish whether or not it is viable to challenge certain aspects of the allegation and, if it is, we then need to estimate the costs of the work required in order that the Defendant can clarify whether or not that is viable and represents a worthwhile commercial investment for the potential benefits that can be obtained. The manner in which a Newton hearing will be dealt with by the Court is similar to a not guilty trial.

If I plead not guilty, will I have to attend Court?

Yes. Whilst it is possible to maintain a not guilty plea in the Defendant's absence if issues relate purely to cross–examination or expert evidence, realistically, to have the best prospects of success, the Defendant needs to attend.

Will I have to give evidence if I plead not guilty?

In all probability, yes. Whilst there are rare exceptions where the case centres on cross–examination of the prosecution or evidence provided by an expert witness, inevitably, the Court will want to hear from the Defendant. It is feasible, however, that a situation may arise where submission of no case to answer is accepted before the Defendant takes the stand.

What is a submission of no case to answer?

The Defendant has the opportunity, via his legal representatives, to argue that the prosecution case has not set out or established the allegation sufficiently to justify proceeding. If the Court accepts that there is "no case to answer" the case can be dismissed at that stage.

Can I represent myself on a not guilty plea?

Yes, however Motor Lawyers would not be prepared to prepare the case in those circumstances. We do not offer a service whereby the Defendant can present a case in person for not guilty trials.

If I plead not guilty, can I change my plea before trial?

Yes. If you proceed on a not guilty basis, we would expect to defend the case to trial but, if further evidence arises or if, for any reason, you elect to change your plea, it will be possible to avoid a full trial and proceed on a guilty plea.

If I plead not guilty, will Motor Lawyers attempt to have the case abandoned before the trial itself?

Yes. As part of our service, we will endeavour to persuade the prosecution to abandon the case at the earliest possible opportunity.

Are there any other fees that I should anticipate?

The fees quoted by Motor Lawyers include all legal fees incurred by ourselves plus the cost of representation at Court. If additional fees are anticipated, by way of expert reports or similar, we will advise you in advance of incurring any expense and will also give a clear indication as to the anticipated costs of those fees at the time instruction.

If I lose my case, will I also lose the "early guilty plea discount"?

In theory, if you fight a case to trial and lose, you could face a higher punishment. However, in practice, it is unlikely that the punishment would increase particularly if it is clear to the Court that there was some merit in the not guilty plea, even if the Court subsequently rejected that plea. Obviously, you would also have the opportunity to present mitigation before sentence anyway and, in all probability, that can be used to minimise the punishment.

What are the other risks of pleading not guilty?

If you run the case and lose, you will not recover the costs paid to Motor Lawyers and you will also have to pay costs to the prosecution. In theory, as detailed above, you could face a higher penalty than if you had pleaded guilty from the outset.

Given the potential risks, am I not better off simply pleading to begin with rather than have the cost and hassle of a not guilty trial?

We would certainly not recommend that you plead guilty simply to reduce the penalty. That said, we do not recommend that you plead guilty unless you are convinced that you have a defence to the allegation and, further, we are satisfied that there is some merit in proceeding. The issue that you need to consider is whether or not you have committed the offence and are willing to accept that. Whilst economics, inconvenience etc. play a part, if you are of the view that you have not committed an offence, then there is no benefit to entering a guilty plea unless it is clear that there is no prospect of your defence succeeding.

If I plead not guilty, will witnesses have to attend Court? If so, who pays for them?

If there is witness evidence that is disputed or is of fundamental need in support of your case, then the probability is that witnesses will be required to attend trial but, there is no benefit to calling witnesses whose evidence is not in issue. If you are successful in your defence, a claim can be made to the Court for the witness costs. If you are unsuccessful, then you may be personally responsible for reimbursement of the witnesses' expenses, subject to the Court's approval.

If I plead not guilty, how long will it take to resolve the case?

You should assume that it will take between 3 to 6 months for the case to be listed for trial. Obviously, there are regional variations. Further, there may be interim hearings before the trial but, wherever possible, we will endeavour to avoid your attendance at interlocutory hearings or where your attendance is not essential.

If I plead not guilty, will the case go to Crown Court and be heard by a Judge and Jury?

In all probability, no. For the vast majority of motoring offences, matters are dealt with in the Magistrates Court where no Jury is required. For the most serious offences, such as dangerous driving etc., a Crown Court trial may be required, subject to the severity of the issues. All speeding and similar offences are, however, dealt with in the Magistrates' Court.