Scooting stars: working on Chancery Lane offers many amusing daily tableaux, one of which is the regular sight of portly senior City partners squashed into bright red sports cars winding their way through over-stuffed London streets. At least those executive toys are fully recognisable as road vehicles, though - even to the average district judge.
Unlike, it seems, something called the 'City Mantis' - not, as its name might imply, an enormous stick-like insect hell-bent on pin-stripe death, but a small, stick-like electric scooter hell-bent on the destruction of the law. Paul King was stopped late at night riding his on the pavement near his suburban home in Yeovil in October last year, according to the Western Gazette (no relation).
When Mr King appeared before the beak, Judge Parsons, presiding, decided that the scooter was not a motor vehicle under section 185 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, letting Mr King off the hook. Common sense has now prevailed, with the High Court ruling that the Mantis is, indeed, a motor vehicle.
We invite you to look at the City Mantis - electrically powered and capable of 15mph. Is it not called a 'City Mantis', surely implying that it preys on the mean city streets? Judge Parsons, according to the law reports, determined that no reasonable person would be of the view that the scooter was intended for use on the road, despite the fact that, the report goes on, Mr King had acknowledged that he would probably use the scooter on the road, and that he had used it perilously close to the road. Mr King was already disqualified from driving, which perhaps put him off actually using it on the road.
The Western Gazette's sister paper, the Western Daily Press, reported that 'after the original hearing Mr King said he was "amazed" to be stopped, never intended to do wrong, and bought the scooter from a young mother who used it to ride to school to pick up her children'. Perhaps she traded up. Lord knows to what.