Regina v Marchant and Another: CACD 21 Jul 2003

The second defendant, a farmer, employed the first defendant, inter alia, to drive his tractor. The tractor, when fitted up was necessarily dangerous, but was licensed to be driven on the roads. There was a fatal accident on the highway. The defendants appealed from convictions for causing death by dangerous driving.
Held: The Court concluded that the prosecution should not have sought a conviction on the ‘dangerous condition’ case and that the Learned Recorder should not have allowed them to do so. The appeals were allowed and the conviction quashed. Though a driver could not escape criminal liability for taking a dangerous vehicle onto the road merely because the vehicle was licensed in that condition by the Secretary of State, prosecutors should take particular care before deciding to prosecute in such circumstances.
‘in the particular circumstances of this case, some reference to the fact that this was an authorised vehicle in its ‘inherent’ condition was appropriate and indeed desirable in assisting the jury in its approach to the question whether the state of the vehicle was ‘obviously dangerous to a competent and careful driver’. Where the state of a vehicle is inherent and the vehicle is authorised for use on the road and is being used in a rural area in which agricultural machinery is frequently driven along country roads, we consider that some reference to these facts should be made to the jury. The statement that authorisation under the Regulations is no defence to the charge without more may indicate that it is of absolutely no relevance.’

The Vice President (Lord Justice Rose) Mr Justice Grigson Mr Justice Beatson
[2003] EWCA Crim 2099, [2004] 1 All ER 1187, [2004] 1 WLR 442
Road Traffic Act 1988 1 40A 41 44, Motor Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) General Order 1979 13C
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Morris CACD 2002
The meaning of the word ‘obvious’ in a statute was in itself so clear that it should not be defined for a jury. . .
CitedRegina v Strong 1995
‘obvious to a careful and competent driver’ refers to a dangerous state which would be ‘seen or realised at first glance’ . .
CitedWood v Milne QBD 1987
The ‘state of the vehicle’ includes the manufactured condition of the vehicle. As a matter of construction, it was not necessary to prove a lack of maintenance in order to prove a breach of the Regulations . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Road Traffic

Updated: 27 January 2022; Ref: scu.184883