Penalty! Fair Play and Premier League Fines

12th January 2016 Driving Offences

Government, media and road safety charities have all pronounced themselves determined to tackle the danger posed by speeding motorists.However, I wonder whether their stated best intentions might appear undermined by the attitude of the courts in a case featuring a high-profile individual more used to tackling others on a football pitch.

Yaya Toure is a midfielder whose achievements with his current club Manchester City (and Barcelona before that) need no embellishment from me.

He has recently, though, fallen foul of the law for proving himself even more nippy away from the Etihad or the Camp Nou than between the white lines.

Mr Toure has been dealt with by magistrates in Staffordshire after being caught driving at 101mph by police on the M6 motorway in May.

In my opinion, the most interesting element of the proceedings was neither the argument about his possibly failing to recognise the speed at which he was travelling because the speedometer in his Porsche was in German nor the fact that he escaped the ban which some might have expected for anyone driving so quickly.

My eyebrows were raised because, having accepted responsibility for the offence, he was only fined £1,665 and ordered to pay £85 costs, a £120 victim surcharge and a criminal court charge of £150.

I say 'only' because, let us not forget, he is one of the highest-paid footballers in the very well remunerated Premier League, reportedly earning more than £200,000 per week.

Now, the courts in England and Wales are not as severe as others when it comes to levying fines. A number of countries use a mix of formulae based on income and living standards to arrive at some eye-watering sums.

For example, a Swedish driver was hit with what's believed to be the world's biggest fine - £650,000 - when he was caught speeding in Switzerland in 2010.

His compatriots have proven to be no slouches when dishing out stiff penalties, fining one businessman £80,000 for driving at twice the speed limit in a residential area, while in Finland motorists have been ordered to hand over nearly £70,000.

My point is not that the courts should necessarily try and hit rich speedsters with big fines because they can. That's not just because I represent successful, wealthy and high-profile figures myself. Without wishing to single Mr Toure out, I reckon that magistrates in his case missed something of a trick.

If the role of cash and point penalties is to cause those guilty of such offences to think again and perhaps send something of a warning to others, then the courts could at least use the full powers open to them - within reason, of course.

The maximum fine for motorway speeding is £2,500, almost double the amount that Mr Toure was ordered to cough up. Add in the realistic costs incurred by prosecutors in preparing their case and he could have been looking at paying more than twice what he eventually did.

That even such a total would have been small change to a player on Premier League wages is neither here nor there.

A more severe sanction would make clear the disdain felt towards those who choose to put their foot down as Mr Toure did.

It might cause some young stars at football's biggest clubs to change their conduct so as to make sure that the only bench they experience is the one that they sit on while waiting to play and not the kind capable of kicking them in the pocket. Hard.


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Hojol Uddin is a Partner and Head of Department located in Manchesterin our Driving Offences department

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