2. Special reasons

Guideline users should be aware that the Equal Treatment Bench Book covers important aspects of fair treatment and disparity of outcomes for different groups in the criminal justice system. It provides guidance which sentencers are encouraged to take into account wherever applicable, to ensure that there is fairness for all involved in court proceedings.

The period of disqualification may be reduced or avoided if there are special reasons (Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, s.34(1)). These must relate to the offence; circumstances peculiar to the offender cannot constitute special reasons (Whittal v Kirby [1946] 2 All ER 552 (CA)). The Court of Appeal (in R v Wickens (1958) 42 Cr App R 436 (CA)) has established that, to constitute a special reason, a matter must:

  • be a mitigating or extenuating circumstance;
  • not amount in law to a defence to the charge;
  • be directly connected with the commission of the offence;
  • be one which the court ought properly to take into consideration when imposing sentence.

Consult your legal adviser for further guidance on special reasons applications.