A MAN has been ordered to pay more than £300 under a controversial piece of legislation after running a red light in a Mercedes.

Robert Elkins committed the offence on the A270 Lewes Road, near the junction with Coldean Lane, Brighton, on December 13 last year.

Elkins, of St Helens Crescent, Hove, was fined £189 and told to pay a victim surcharge of £34, and costs of £90.

Although a relatively minor offence, running a red light is one that contravenes several parts of the law.

It is contrary to section 36(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Elkins’ case was dealt with under the Single Justice Procedure (SJP), a relatively unknown – and controversial - piece of legislation which allows a single lay magistrate or a district judge to deal with some types of case in private.

More than half the cases at Brighton magistrates’ court are now dealt with by SJP, which is detailed in sections 16A-16F and other amended sections of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, created by Part 3 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

The procedure is conducted entirely ‘on the papers’ – that is, solely by the magistrate considering the case documents – in private and in the absence of the defendant, who must either have pleaded guilty or failed to respond to a request for a plea.

Under the rules of the SJP, 52-year-old Elkins pleaded guilty to the offence and, as well as the financial penalty, received three points on his licence.

The magistrate dealing with a SJP case, which was introduced to save costs, does not hear any oral evidence or submissions, which has led to accusations that it breaches the fundamental principle of open justice.

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