Term-time holiday ban upheld by Supreme Court

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Five justices refused to rescind imposed fine on father of truant pupil in unanimous decision

In April 2015, Jon Platt took his daughter out of school for a week without the approval of the school. The local education authority, Isle of Wight council, imposed a £60 fine which was successfully challenged by Platt last year.

However the council appealed and took the case to the supreme court, who ultimately sided with the council.

Lady Hale, deputy president of the supreme court, said: “Unauthorised absences have a disruptive effect, not only on the education of the individual child but also on the work of other pupils.”

Platt said that he intends to continue to fight against the judgment once the case returns to the magistrates court: “The case has to go back to the Isle of Wight magistrates. I have no intention of pleading guilty to this offence.”
Hale said that the high court had “clearly been worried about the consequence that a single missed attendance without leave or unavoidable cause would lead to criminal liability. However, there are several answers to this concern.
“First, there are many examples where a very minor or trivial breach of the law can lead to criminal liability. It is an offence to steal a milk bottle, to drive at 31 mph where the limit is 30 or to fail to declare imported goods which are just over the permitted limit.
“The answer in such cases is a sensible prosecution policy. In some cases, of which this is one, this can involve the use of fixed-penalty notices, which recognise that a person should not have behaved in this way but spare him a criminal conviction.”

 

April 2017

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