Court seeking £250.55 - but both the magistrates & SE Prosecutions had wrong address

Status
Not open for further replies.

paulper

New Member
Joined
21 Jun 2016
Messages
4
Hello all,

In April 2015 at Greenwich station my fiancé was told that she would be fined for travelling without a valid ticket. She was not given the opportunity to pay the fine plus the fare at this point, as the inspector alleged it was a deliberate attempt to avoid paying a fare (not the case). True address details, etc, were taken and they checked her address (how they do this I do not know but she said that they would not let her go until her address was verified).

Some 15 months later a letter has been received confirming that the court have contacted her employer and will be deducting £250 from her pay. This is the first correspondence received about this fine. After contacting SE Prosecutions and Bromley Magistrates Court, it appears they have been sending letters to No.4 instead of No.40. This latest letter was addressed to No.40.

She has therefore:
- not been given the opportunity to pay the fine on the day as she should have been;
- not been given an opportunity to pay the fine out of court (they sent one to No.4 asking for £134.30);
- not been able to respond to the court summons (sent to No.4).

Bromley have suggested that she requests the order is reopened but she would have to go to court and there is a risk that the sum could be the same or more. SE Prosecutions say the same, but my gut feeling is a straightforward letter to SE Prosecutions and politely request to offer to pay the £20. If it is an administrative error on their part then surely that should be it?

As it stands, what are the implications in terms of credit and criminal records?

Thanks,
Paul
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

crehld

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
1 Nov 2014
Messages
1,994
Location
Norfolk
The fact this matter has gone to court (and it appears your fiance has been convicted by the court) means the court is involved - so your gut feeling of simply writing a straightforward letter to SE prosecutions without involving the court isn't going to resolve the matter.

If your fiance hasn't heard anything from the court because they've been sending correspondence to the wrong address (and from your account the court appears to acknowledge this), then making a statutory declaration to this effect would be the way forward. This is effectively what the court at Bromley are asking your fiance to do, and it effectively resets the clock on the prosecution. This can be done at the court or by a solicitor (the latter will no doubt charge a fee). Other forum members will be able to provide more detail about this process.

Once the case is reopened there may be scope to negotiate with South Eastern to resolve the matter without it proceeding to a prosecution.

As for criminal records, this depends which offence your fiance has been prosecuted under. If it's a Byelaws offence then there will be no criminal record; if it's a Regulation of Railways Act offence then there will be a criminal record. See section 8.7.3.4 of our Fares and Ticketing guide for the details.

I have no idea how (or even if) this will affect credit scores and the like.
 
Last edited:

najaB

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Aug 2011
Messages
24,028
Location
Scotland
Bromley have suggested that she requests the order is reopened but she would have to go to court and there is a risk that the sum could be the same or more. SE Prosecutions say the same, but my gut feeling is a straightforward letter to SE Prosecutions and politely request to offer to pay the £20. If it is an administrative error on their part then surely that should be it?
It is possible to make a statutory declaration to the effect that she has no prior knowledge of the proceedings. This will set aside the verdict and reset the case to the plea stage. You are correct that if this declaration is filed in person the Court may require a plea to be made at the same time. If the intention is to plead not guilty then the case will be rescheduled for a later date.
She has therefore:
- not been given the opportunity to pay the fine on the day as she should have been;
Just to point out, there is no automatic right to a Penalty Fare, the TOC is within its rights to proceed directly to a prosecution.
As it stands, what are the implications in terms of credit and criminal records?
Impossible to answer re the criminal record without knowing what offence she was found guilty of.
 

Puffing Devil

Established Member
Joined
11 Apr 2013
Messages
2,444
Immediate action
Your fiance should make a statutory declaration that she had no knowledge of the proceedings. She should do this at a solicitor - there should be a nominal charge of £5, plus possibly a charge of £2 per certified copy. Check fees before attending. She only has 21 days from the time she found out about the matter to make the declaration.

If possible, hand deliver the declaration to the court office. If not, post the declaration first class and get a proof of posting.

After the declaration
Contact the Train Company prosecuting department, politely pointing out the errors and asking that they settle out of court, as they have already made this offer, but it was not received due to errors in the address.

If they refuse, your fiance can go to court and give her side of the story - her mitigation for not having a ticket. Without more information, we do not know if she has a genuine defence.
 

TheEdge

Established Member
Joined
29 Nov 2012
Messages
3,697
Location
Norwich
Just adding one point. Make sure you and your fiancee really did have no idea about the court case.

If you truly didn't know, make the statutory declaration. If you did, don't as making a fake declaration is a serious issue far beyond a fare problem.
 

snail

Established Member
Joined
16 Jun 2011
Messages
1,847
Location
t'North
How does the court get details of the employer to make the earnings attachment? Would it not need information from the person being prosecuted?
 

Clip

On Moderation
Joined
28 Jun 2010
Messages
10,616
How does the court get details of the employer to make the earnings attachment? Would it not need information from the person being prosecuted?
Well I would assume everything else given at the time of interview was correct and the only error was omitting a 0 from the address.
 

455driver

Veteran Member
Joined
10 May 2010
Messages
11,332
Just adding one point. Make sure you and your fiancee really did have no idea about the court case.

If you truly didn't know, make the statutory declaration. If you did, don't as making a fake declaration is a serious issue far beyond a fare problem.

I believe making a false declaration (or making one when you know the details you gave were false) is classed as contempt of Court and could result in a nice holiday at a government run establishment or a very very big fine.

Only make the declaration if you are 100% certain you (or your other half) did give all the correct details when asked.
 

crehld

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
1 Nov 2014
Messages
1,994
Location
Norfolk
Given the OP's fiance's details were verified and the OP's fiance had to wait while such verification was carried out, it seems the most likely explanation is an administrative error; perhaps if having verified the address the inspector then recorded it incorrectly in their notes, or perhaps when South eastern sent the information over to the court, or perhaps a data entry failure when the court copied the OP's fiance's address information onto their system from the files sent by South eastern. Who knows!?

All that's relevant is that the OP's fiance gave the correct address, an address which was verified, but correspondence was sent to a different, incorrect, address.
 

DaveNewcastle

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
21 Dec 2007
Messages
7,387
Location
Newcastle (unless I'm out)
I agree with the advice given to you on here, but will add a few more words of advice which is consistent with those others, and to advise some caution:

The 'Staututory Declaration' (SD) can also be made in person at the Court Clerk's office. But if you do, then Bromley Magistrates are very likely to ask the passenger to make a plea of either 'guilty' or 'not guilty' there and then, (and if 'guilty' then to move immediately to sentencing). To avoid that hasty move, I endorse Puffing_Devil's advice to pay the modest fee to make the SD in the office of any local law firm).

I want to clarify the advice above in relation to your suggestion that your first response would be to contact the railway Company. Your friend needs to understand that the Railway Company has no further interest in the matter other than the accounting task of collecting the award approved by the Court. Your friend has already been convicted of a Criminal Offence - that much is history. The SD is one of the few ways of re-opening that closed chapter.

From what you have posted on here, I'm unable to determine whether the correct respose to the allegations is 'guilty' or 'not guilty'. Puffing_Devil has advised entering a plea of 'not guilty', but without knowing the facts and without knowing the prosecution's evidence, I'm not as confident in advising how to plea. The consequences of making a 'not guilty' plea when the evidence is persuasively one of 'guilt' is that the sentence will be harsher than it would be if a prompt plea of 'guilty' is made.
paulper said:
it was a deliberate attempt to avoid paying a fare (not the case).
I have no reason to doubt you, but as the crime of travelling without a valid tivket and with intent to avoid payment is defined by tests of evidence which follow from many years of case law, and not by a subjective impression of a person's mental intentions nor by evidence of their 'attempts', but by evidence of actions and words.
Based on the information on here, I have to keep an open mind as to whether to advise making a plea of 'guilty' or 'not guilty'.
 
Last edited:

Puffing Devil

Established Member
Joined
11 Apr 2013
Messages
2,444
Puffing_Devil has advised entering a plea of 'not guilty', but without knowing the facts and without knowing the prosecution's evidence, I'm not as confident in advising how to plea.

I made a quick post as I was short of time. I can see how that was interpreted as advice to plead Not Guilty, though that wasn't my intention, as I did say "Without more information, we do not know if she has a genuine defence"

I concur with DaveNewcastle that we do no know which way the plea should be. The first order of business should be to make the declaration. Then post up the facts of the matter here for more pertinent advice on your case, though the chances are that attempting to settle out of court may be the best option. We do, however, need all the details.
 

paulper

New Member
Joined
21 Jun 2016
Messages
4
Many thanks for all of your responses. I'm overwhelmed with the guidance from you all.

An SD seems to be the general consensus and we have started that process with a solicitor we know and hopefully he can assist.

To clarify, the letter we received on Tuesday was the first correspondence received about this fine and indeed about the court case. Although we are yet to receive copies of all correspondence that appear to have been sent to No.4 as opposed to the correct address of No.40, the fact that we never received any letters from Southeastern either, coupled with the fact that they verified that address at the time in April 2015, does seem to suggest an administrative issue arose at Southeastern's end with the court then copying across the same incorrect address. How and at what point they realised their error, we're not sure at this stage.

Yes my fiancé was guilty of travelling without a ticket, but it simply does not seem fair that she has ended up with a criminal record which would have been avoided had this admin error not occurred, and, as SE Prosecutions have confirmed, the Inspector should have offered an opportunity to pay the penalty fare there and then.

Any action resulting in the need to declare her guilt in front of a court doesn't seem like a good move when we want this settled out of court and the criminal record removed, so we'll get the SD done and keep you posted...

Thanks again,
Paul
 

Haywain

Established Member
Joined
3 Feb 2013
Messages
5,616
You should be aware that cost of settling the matter is likely to be more than the £20 that you mention. Even without the mix-up over the correct address, the TOC has incurred costs in dealing with this matter and will expect to recover those costs as well as the fare. From other threads on these sort of matters, it can be seen that the amount required will be something in the order of £100, although there seems to be quite a lot of variation.
 

transportphoto

Established Member
Associate Staff
Quizmaster
Joined
21 Jan 2010
Messages
4,032
Yes my fiancé was guilty of travelling without a ticket, but it simply does not seem fair that she has ended up with a criminal record which would have been avoided had this admin error not occurred, and, as SE Prosecutions have confirmed, the Inspector should have offered an opportunity to pay the penalty fare there and then.

Any action resulting in the need to declare her guilt in front of a court doesn't seem like a good move when we want this settled out of court and the criminal record removed, so we'll get the SD done and keep you posted...
Whilst I appreciate that you may have had the opportunity to settle this matter outside of court, it has to be remembered that this is not always the case.

I'm sure you'd agree that if one were to commit any other criminal offence, that there is sufficient evidence provided by the prosecution for such to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, this should be a matter for the courts to deal with? Why should it be different in a private prosecution brought by a train company rather than the Police/Crown Prosecutor?

TP
 

paulper

New Member
Joined
21 Jun 2016
Messages
4
Whilst I appreciate that you may have had the opportunity to settle this matter outside of court, it has to be remembered that this is not always the case.

I'm sure you'd agree that if one were to commit any other criminal offence, that there is sufficient evidence provided by the prosecution for such to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, this should be a matter for the courts to deal with? Why should it be different in a private prosecution brought by a train company rather than the Police/Crown Prosecutor?

TP

I do agree and never sought to distinguish between the two. But... had errors not been made by the private prosecutor, the defendant would not have missed the opportunity to lodge a defence in response to the prosecution - isn't this how court cases work?

The prosecutor has sought to take the matter to court because - in their view - the defendant has chosen not to pay the £135 fine, but of course everyone now knows the defendant was never afforded that opportunity. Likewise, the Court then sentences the defendant in their absence in the belief that they chose to ignore the prosecutor's letter offering a £135 fine and then failed to turn up in court, with, ultimately, the fine outstanding, so I do respect the decisions of the court and even the prosecutor, but the fact remains it is a simple administrative error that has led to the mess that by Southeastern's own admittance, should and could have been resolved at the station way back in April 2015 when the defendant paid the fare owed. Southeastern cannot deny this.
 

Clip

On Moderation
Joined
28 Jun 2010
Messages
10,616
Mayeb the inspector thought there was more to it and decided - which is entirley their right to do so - pass this one for prosecution.
 

Haywain

Established Member
Joined
3 Feb 2013
Messages
5,616
I do agree and never sought to distinguish between the two. But... had errors not been made by the private prosecutor, the defendant would not have missed the opportunity to lodge a defence in response to the prosecution - isn't this how court cases work?
It is how court cases work, and the Statutory Declaration allows the case to proceed in that way.

The prosecutor has sought to take the matter to court because - in their view - the defendant has chosen not to pay the £135 fine, but of course everyone now knows the defendant was never afforded that opportunity. Likewise, the Court then sentences the defendant in their absence in the belief that they chose to ignore the prosecutor's letter offering a £135 fine and then failed to turn up in court, with, ultimately, the fine outstanding, so I do respect the decisions of the court and even the prosecutor, but the fact remains it is a simple administrative error that has led to the mess that by Southeastern's own admittance, should and could have been resolved at the station way back in April 2015 when the defendant paid the fare owed. Southeastern cannot deny this.
The prosecutor took the case to court because no communication had been received and the £135 had not been paid (and that is an out of court settlement, not a fine). The court will have convicted on the basis of the uncontested evidence of an offence having been committed, and the settlement amount offered would not have formed part of their case - by its very nature it is no business of the court. However, it remains the amount that is likely to be necessary to pay to avoid returning to court.
 

londonbridge

Member
Joined
30 Jun 2010
Messages
902
There is also the question of what the person at No. 4 did with the letter(s) they received? If they sent them back marked 'not known at this address return to sender' then wouldn't Southeastern possibly twig that something was wrong?
 

markindurham

Member
Joined
1 Nov 2011
Messages
325
There is also the question of what the person at No. 4 did with the letter(s) they received? If they sent them back marked 'not known at this address return to sender' then wouldn't Southeastern possibly twig that something was wrong?

Indeed. However, there are folk that would simply put mail like that in the bin... :roll:
 

paulper

New Member
Joined
21 Jun 2016
Messages
4
By way of an update I served the stat decs on Bexley and Medway magistrates, as signed by a solicitor.

We now know that SE Prosecutions believe the offence took place on the 5th April, meaning not only have they got the address wrong, but they've also got the date wrong as my fiancé was actually stopped travelling without a ticket on the 25th.

Can we use these 2 errors to our advantage?

Today my fiancé has attempted to contact SE Prosecutions but has been given 4 wrong numbers and been put through to the wrong department twice. Eventually my fiancé did speak to a man who could not find any details of her case so told her to await a new court date that would confirm the company responsible for the prosecution who we could then contact regarding a settlement. This has meant she has been unable to reiterate her previous demand that copies of all correspondence be sent to the correct address.

Is anyone aware of who my fiancé should contact?

Thanks in advance of any advice you can give.

Paul
 

Clip

On Moderation
Joined
28 Jun 2010
Messages
10,616
By way of an update I served the stat decs on Bexley and Medway magistrates, as signed by a solicitor.

We now know that SE Prosecutions believe the offence took place on the 5th April, meaning not only have they got the address wrong, but they've also got the date wrong as my fiancé was actually stopped travelling without a ticket on the 25th.

Can we use these 2 errors to our advantage?

Today my fiancé has attempted to contact SE Prosecutions but has been given 4 wrong numbers and been put through to the wrong department twice. Eventually my fiancé did speak to a man who could not find any details of her case so told her to await a new court date that would confirm the company responsible for the prosecution who we could then contact regarding a settlement. This has meant she has been unable to reiterate her previous demand that copies of all correspondence be sent to the correct address.

Is anyone aware of who my fiancé should contact?

Thanks in advance of any advice you can give.

Paul
No. She still travelled without a ticket so she sitll has to face prosecution or try and settle out of court. Minor things like dates and addresses being wrong do not nullify the offence im afraid.
 

Puffing Devil

Established Member
Joined
11 Apr 2013
Messages
2,444
I appreciate your frustration dealing with these errors. There may be "loopholes" you could exploit with the date, but there is no guarantee that you would succeed in court. You would need to explore those angles with your solicitor - I'm not prepared to help there.

As it stands, we have asked for full details of the incident, post those and you may get some help related to the incident based on the circumstances.
 

DaveNewcastle

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
21 Dec 2007
Messages
7,387
Location
Newcastle (unless I'm out)
There is extensive guidance on the question of 'errors' in a prosecution, and these are classified into three tiers (Stones Justice Manual):
1. errors which are 'so fundamental' whih cannot be amended and cause the prosecution to fail;
2. errors 'substantial enough to require amendment';
3. errors so trivial that no amendment is required.​
There is ample case law to clarify each of these; and where a date is in error, that is found in Jevons v Cosmosair (1998) :- "The question of the date, whether it be [in] an information or summons or an indictment is always a matter which is capable of amendment and the mere fact that a date is wrongly stated, will seldom, if ever, be a matter which would lead a Court to hold that the charge was void."

The question of an 'advantage' (or its converse, a 'detriment') really must turn on this question:
Is it a matter of fact that the accused person committed the alledged offence?
If that is not resolved by a mutually agreeable resolution Out of Court, then that is the question which will be decided by a Court on the basis of whatever evidence is presented by the Company and any that may be presented by the accused.
The difficulties in obtaining useful phone numbers, very frustrating as I realise that must be, are not going to be of any assistance in addressing that crucial question.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top