He is a British/Irish dual national, who has kept up his British car and bike licence, passing his tests in the Republic.

About a week after he went home, I got a notice from the Police telling me to name the rider of the Fazer for an alledged speed offence, which I knew was him. I told the police his name and Irish address and got a letter back, suggesting this wasn’t true and I was going to get nicked for allowing the bike to be used without insurance.

My cousin had a 14-day short-use policy for my bike and I gave them the policy number, I made sure my cousin gave me the insurance certificate and the PDF of it, so I sent that in to them too.

The police said the insurance was invalid as my cousin was using his mum’s UK address but he was living permanently in Ireland and they are apparently considering a prosecution for allowing the motorcycle to be ridden without insurance.

Do I need to worry or have I got some snotty clerk trying to frighten me?


I strongly suspect the snotty clerk theory is the correct one. The criminal law is black and white. You either fall one side of the line or you do not. You know it was your cousin riding your bike and you have identified him, so you have compiled with that legal duty.

There might be some argument, had you not seen the – genuine – insurance document, that you had not taken reasonable care to ensure the bike was insured but a PDF of a 14-day cover note is plenty good enough.

The bike was insured for road-traffic risks and there was a policy of insurance from which the insurer would have to meet any claim for damages. The country of domicile (ie where your cousin lives) is a contractual matter and the law about where someone actually lives is not as crystal clear as all that.

The test of domicile largely relates to questions of tax law and when you get tax lawyers involved for big chunks of money, things get complex. In any event, his domicile is of no consequence to the police. Your bike was insured for your cousin on a UK policy.

But play this wisely, if you get a summons for allowing your Fazer to be used without insurance, you will be throwing yourself at the mercy of the magistrates. They are well-meaning citizens but they are not lawyers.

They are advised by clerks who are fully legally-qualified but they are run off their feet so, sadly, I cannot guarantee the correct legal interpretation of the relevant part of the 1988 Road Traffic Act.

Your best bet is to set out the relevant sections of the Act (145 is the appropriate section and easily available on a (Google search), along with the certificate of Insurance. Ideally confirmation in a letter from your cousin that he was the rider and he was insured should kill this off before a summons is issued. Your cousin may get points on his British licence – the speed was modest and would usually attract a day at the Driver Re-education boot-camp.

If you do get summonsed, you are on for six points if the magistrates get it wrong, so I would think about getting representation on the day because, as
you can see from this answer, the case could take a few twists and turns. If you cannot afford representation, then have your arguments in writing and hand them up to the magistrates.

If you get a District Judge (a professional end paid Judge in the Magistrates) you will have no problems and I suspect the prosecutor might get a scolding. District Judges (or Stipendiary Magistrates or ‘Stipes’) are swift, effective and occasionally impatient distributors of summary justice. The modern criminal District Judge is, in my experience, a lot more user-frlendiy and less fearsome than the Stipes I cut my teeth in front of.

Andrew Dalton

RiDE Magazine October 2021