Top Queensland Barrister Loses Appeal Over $146 Speeding Fine

You’d think that if you were in the tax bracket of a Queensland barrister – and a Queen’s Council, no less – that if you got slapped with a $146 speeding fine, you’d just suck it up and pay it.

“But not I,” thought barrister Tony Morris, QC, when he realised he owed a few fifties to the Queensland Government for a minor speeding fine.

He decided instead to appeal. It begs the question ‘why’, because representing himself at court was literally not worth his time. And today he lost.

Last year, his Volvo wagon was photographed by police camera going 7 km/h over the 50 km/h speed limit, which we’re all probably a little guilty of from time to time, but still remains firmly on the ‘no go’ side of the law.

Morris claimed he wasn’t driving at the time (a fact the police did not contest). He centred his whole appeal around this fact, despite refusing to name who was behind the wheel. 

He argued that a magistrate imposing the fine on him would have to find, without a doubt, “that the person in charge was driving the vehicle when the speeding offence was photographically detected.” – i.e. that it was definitely him. Morris claimed that part of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 was invalid, which says that if the person in charge of the vehicle is not the offending driver, criminal responsibility is attributed to two individuals (although only one can be charged).

In the 90 minutes he spent trying to convince the Court of Appeal, he even called in a law from 1926 to build his case, which “established the invalidity of legislators trying to force courts to impose a stealing offence on someone who held stolen goods.”

To use legal terminology, the court called bullshit.

“No finding as to the identity of the actual driver need be made,” said Justice Catherine Holmes, losing Morris his appeal. The Court of Appeal found that there was no issue with the law, and that there’s already existing steps to take to identify the offending driver.

Moral of the story: your car does the crime, you pay the fine. Or find the bastard that did it.

Image: Philippe Huguen via Getty Images

via The Guardian / ABC