Conditional offers – changes to procedures etc
276.Subsection (1)(a) amends section 302(2) of the 1995 Act, which covers the information which requires to be provided to the alleged offender in a conditional offer. The amendments take account of the revised procedure introduced by this Act. It is also made clear that an offer letter can stipulate that the whole penalty is to be paid in a single instalment.
277.Subsection (1)(c) inserts subsections (4A) - (4C) into section 302 of the 1995 Act. This effects a change to the way in which fixed penalties are administered. Acceptance of a conditional offer of a fixed penalty will now be either by making any payment in respect of the offer, or by taking no action in respect of the offer. Currently, an offer of a fixed penalty requires the suspected offender to take positive steps to accept it. The terms of these new subsections render subsections (5) and (6) of section 302 redundant, and these are repealed by subsection (1)(d) of this section.
278.Subsection (1)(b) makes a consequential amendment to section 302(4) of the 1995 Act, to oblige the clerk of court to notify the procurator fiscal whether or not the conditional offer has been rejected.
279.Subsections (1)(e), (f) and (g) amend the maximum level of a conditional offer from level 1 on the standard scale (presently £200) to £300. The Scottish Ministers are given power to further increase the maximum by order, subject to affirmative procedure.
280.Subsection (1)(h) inserts new subsections (8A) and (8B) into section 302 of the 1995 Act. Subsection (8A) raises a rebuttable presumption that the alleged offender has received a conditional offer if it is sent to: the address given by the alleged offender in relation to a recall application under section 302C(1) (see paragraphs 291 to 296 below); or to any address which the alleged offender has given to the clerk of court or the procurator fiscal in respect of that offer. Subsection (8B), in turn, raises a presumption in relation to the operation of section 141(4) of the 1995 Act, which covers the citation of accused persons to court. It provides that citation of the accused will be presumed to have been successfully effected if sent to the same address at which it can be proved the accused received a conditional offer, or at another address given by the accused in connection with that offer.
281.Subsection (1)(i) amends section 302(9) of the 1995 Act. It extends the range of offences for which conditional offers can be made. At present a conditional offer can be made in respect of any offence which can be tried in the district court. Subject to the exclusion of certain road traffic offences set out in section 302(9) of the 1995 Act, it will now be competent to make a conditional offer in relation to any offence which can be tried summarily.