CyclingEdinburgh.info

FoE Appeals to Lords

Posted by chdot on May 23, 2007

Following the Appeal Court ruling that Critical Masses in London are “not exempt from the requirement to give advance notice under the Public Order Act”, Friends of the Earth are taking the case to The House of Lords.

FoE’s Rights & Justice Centre has been acting for Des Kay. He had challenged the Metropolitan Police’s claim that London’s Critical Mass was unlawful and that cyclists taking part were liable to prosecution. The point of law revolves around the issue of whether (in the London case) rides are “customarily held” – and therefore exempt.

The Divisional Court ruled that – “an unbroken succession of over 140 of these collective cycle rides, … cannot by now sensibly be called anything but common or customary.” Two out of three Appeal Court judges disagreed!

Tension between cyclists and ‘authorities’ is not new, especially in relation to Critical Mass. The CM ‘movement’ is a spontaneous worldwide (in over 400 cities) gathering of cyclists (usually one day each month). The ‘main’ web site says “Critical Mass is not an organization, it’s an unorganized coincidence. It’s a movement … of bicycles, in the streets. Accordingly, this isn’t the official Critical Mass web page, because there is no official Critical Mass web page. There are, however, a bunch of unofficial web pages.”

Organisation surrounding critical masses is to encourage more people to take part, so there are flyers, web sites (Glasgow has one), but at the events there are no organisers. Routes are decided by consensus – or whoever is at the front. Next CMs in Scotland are on Friday at 5.30 – Edinburgh; Foot of The Mound, Glasgow; George Square.

2 Responses to “FoE Appeals to Lords”

  1. Alex said

    The common or customary defence may not even get off the ground in Scotland. It looks like s70(5) of The Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 specifically repeals s62(7) of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

  2. Craig said

    IANAL, but cyclists taking part are NOT liable to prosecution.
    This ruling does mean that in theory an ‘organiser’ could be liable to prosecution. Though of course, Critical Mass doesn’t have any organisers…

    Some comments about the ruling here (by a lawyer): http://bikereader.com/forum/index.php?topic=34227.msg465535#msg465535

    Also general legal advice for Critical Mass: http://bikereader.com/forum/index.php?topic=34345.0

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