Court of Cassation: police cannot impose fines purely on basis of registration plates
Thursday, 15 December 2016
Fines imposed by the police solely upon the basis of registration plates, without having questioned the driver are illegal. This emerges from four rulings by the Court of Cassation (Belgium’s final court of appeal). VTM Nieuws has been able to view these.
The relevant fines are those for which the police only have a registration plate and try to identify the driver, through Belgium’s vehicle registration agency (VRA) without questioning the individual directly.
The Court hold that this violates individual’s privacy.
Consequently, the fine is not legal if the agent only requests the offender’s identity in this way. “The police have no power to request database information. If they do so, it is therefore not legal. Permission from the Privacy Commission is consequently necessary,” the lawyers Kurt Stas and Henri Berkmoes told VTM.
The Court of Cassation ruled upon four similar decisions. Each of these cases now have to go before a new court, in the light of this ruling.
“Each individual subject to an unpaid fine or who receives a fine in the coming weeks can contest it. However, that is not to say that this will lead to an acquittal. It is not simply because a procedural error was made that each offender will definitely achieve the desired outcome,” Kurt Stas explains.
He goes on, “Of course, each judge must decide according to their conscience and interpretation of the facts and law.”