Pre-Court Settlement offer GWR - Some advice please.

Moxie

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Hello All,

I've been contacted by GWR after being reported for prosecution for travelling from Hayle to Penzance without a ticket. It mentions both section s5(3) the Regulation of railways act (1889) and the Bylaw 18(1) of the railway bylaws but doesn't specify which if either of them I am likely to be charged under and contacting GWR about it has not been helpful on that front either. The reason for my report to prosecution is correct I did not have a ticket and couldn't buy one.

Hayle train station doesn't have any ticketing facilities as such I got on the train there without purchasing a ticket. When the ticket inspector came round to check/sell tickets I realised I had forgotten my wallet and explained this to them. I was then advised to wait and they would get someone to deal with it.

I was then interviewed by a revenue protection inspector, who I gave my name and address and explained the issue again. When asked if I had any other tickets I explained that I have other tickets in my wallet but that I don't have the tickets on me as I don't have my wallet. I was asked if I had intended not to purchase a ticket and if they had not been approached would I have purchased a ticket, I told them I would have purchased a ticket if I had my wallet. I advised them that I would purchase a ticket as soon as possible and put this in writing in the section where writing in my own words was allowed. When asked how I intended to do this I told them I was heading to a meeting at the job centre in penzance and would ask to borrow the money from my job coach.

The interview concluded and I went to the job centre completed my meeting, found out I couldn't borrow money from my job coach due to regulations and called the people I know in penzance until I was able to borrow the £4 for a return ticket, which took about an hour.

Fast forward about 6 weeks to now and I get the pre-court settlement offer from GWR of £84 to cover the cost of the tickets and admin fee's for recovering it.

Whilst I'm on benefits I can still cover it by borrowing money some of the money from my father to pay him back later.

This is when it hit's a bit of a snag he looks up what they are threatening to charge me with (Regulation of railways act (1889) and the Bylaw 18(1) of the railway bylaws) and is sure I can win the case and feels that I should appeal against it and after reading text I don't disagree.

The argument is that in Bylaw 18(3):
"no person shall be in breach of Byelaw 18(1) or 18(2) if:
  1. there were no facilities in working order for the issue or validation of any ticket at the time when, and the station where, he began his journey
and as such as the Hayle train station has no way to purchase tickets then I cannot be charged under the bylaw.

with s5(3) the Regulation of railways act:
If any person—

(a)Travels or attempts to travel on a railway without having previously paid his fare, and with intent to avoid payment thereof; or
....
(c)Having failed to pay his fare, gives in reply to a request by an officer of a railway company a false name or address,

In regards to this I gave my name and address and had no intent to avoid payment just no means to pay at the time.

That said I feel it's best to get a second and probably more informed opinion, I've contacted transport focus but I'm still awaiting a response from them and if some people on the forum could give me their views on the matter it would be appreciated.

Is it worth the risk of going to court over or should I just pay the fine?
 
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island

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Whilst you are correct with respect to the byelaw offence, it is considered that if you travel with no means of payment on you, this is evidence of an intent to avoid payment. I would advise paying the £84 promptly to avoid matters escalating further, unless you can afford a good solicitor.
 

Fawkes Cat

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In making your decision, you should also factor in how much you will have to pay if you go to court and lose. It might be worth having a look at the current thread about prosecutions in Bristol (https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/23-prosecutions-in-bristol.197492/#post-4357713): the people convicted are charged around £400 each, although note that some of this is based on their income, so if you can show that you are on a low income the total might be rather less.
 

Moxie

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Cool thanks for the input Island I'll send the thread to my father and this should hopefully be enough to convince him to lend me what I need. As I can't afford a good solicitor as they would almost certainly be more than the £84 fee.

Fawkes Cat, I could easily prove I'm on a lower income, although I doubt that it would be less than the fee either way.

Thanks both of you for the input.
 

some bloke

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Is it worth the risk of going to court over or should I just pay the fine?
Whether it's worth the risk to any particular person depends on various things such as tolerance for risk, tolerance for hassle, finances, willingness to appeal if "found" guilty, confidence and aptitude for presenting a case in court with or without a solicitor's help.

The company would be officially required to show magistrates you were guilty beyond reasonable doubt - if under s.5(3), of intent to avoid a fare.

It may be a long shot, but is there anything you can think of that might be evidence you did forget the wallet?

I'd like to think that magistrates would have some leeway for a credible story that introduced reasonable doubt. There might be circumstantial details that make it more credible (eg you were intending to buy something in Penzance but your plans changed because you didn't have your wallet). Conceivably if you sent relevant texts beforehand they might be useful.

I'd be disappointed if magistrates felt that this kind of situation necessarily meant the person couldn't have forgotten the wallet, because it's pretty clear that these kinds of things do happen.

It's true that other things being equal it might seem dodgy if someone gets on the train with no money. It sounds like maybe your basic feeling is that you'd prefer to stop the process by paying, and that may be best for you.
 
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Moxie

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Hi some bloke,

I'd be willing to go to court if only because I see just paying the fine as an admission of guilt on my part and that it was an intentional act, which I would rather not do. At the same time I've never had to go to court for anything prior so I don't have any experience of the proceedures. I will look on my phone to see if I have anything on it that would help but I doubt I do as I contacted people that I thought could help with phonecalls.

Nonetheless thank you for the advice.
 

some bloke

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Hi some bloke,

I'd be willing to go to court if only because I see just paying the fine as an admission of guilt on my part and that it was an intentional act, which I would rather not do. At the same time I've never had to go to court for anything prior so I don't have any experience of the proceedures. I will look on my phone to see if I have anything on it that would help but I doubt I do as I contacted people that I thought could help with phonecalls.

Nonetheless thank you for the advice.
As it's your father who suggested you could win, how willing is he to support you in fighting it?
[I'm conscious that there may be a significant financial risk, so I'm wary of appearing to encourage it]
 

Moxie

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I don't know for sure, but I'm aware that he thinks it would be best to defend myself if it did go to court so that I don't have to pay the costs of a solicitor.

So whilst I don't think he'd be unwilling to offer some support, it would depend more on the overall cost.
 

some bloke

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What does he think you should do if you get cranky magistrates or for any other reason you aren't believed, so the options are to appeal or accept the conviction and fine?
 

Moxie

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No he said to look for a second opinion to see what the view was from people with more knowledge of the situation. I've sent him a link to this thread via email and I expect he will be fine lending me the money when the view is that it's a significant risk that I would lose.

I think he like myself were a bit irritated that Hayle was the only station on my route that wasn't a penalty fare zone, so I get to pay 4 times the amount. But it is what it is.
 

Llanigraham

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The overall cost of going to Court and potentially being found guilty will be a lot more expensive than the amount offered to clear this "problem" now.
And from reading some of the preceeding comments here, I suspect that some members do not have experience of Magistrates and the Magistrate Court system, and what the "burden of proof" they require is.
 

some bloke

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What I mean here is that magistrates might think there was reasonable doubt even if you have no evidence that you forgot the wallet apart from your own testimony.
I'd like to think that magistrates would have some leeway for a credible story that introduced reasonable doubt. There might be circumstantial details that make it more credible (eg you were intending to buy something in Penzance but your plans changed because you didn't have your wallet).
My naive and inexperienced guess would be that a magistrate would, or at least should, take notice of your account. But others on here are experienced in how magistrates operate, in ways that I am not.
 

Moxie

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I would generally agree that a magistrate should take notice of my account but at the same time I'm inclined to err on the side of the cynic when it outweighs the risk
 

Hadders

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For the sake of £84 to make the matter go away just pay up.

The stress and hassle of going to court, that’s before you factor in the quite significant risk of losing, just isn’t worth it.
 

WesternLancer

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as a matter of interest, isn't this an issue where Moxie could have been issued with an Unpaid Fare Notice for the journey in question and a requirement to pay at a later date? Would that have been at staff discretion or would the staff have had no option but to take the course of action they did, which has resulted in a course that is now a threat of prosecution?
 

Moxie

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Hi WesternLancer,

Thats actualy something I asked them about when I sent them an email explaining the situation. I was advised that as I was reported for prosecution it wasn't relevant to the rest of my query. Not sure if thats particularly helpful for your question but it's the response I was given.
 

island

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as a matter of interest, isn't this an issue where Moxie could have been issued with an Unpaid Fare Notice for the journey in question and a requirement to pay at a later date? Would that have been at staff discretion or would the staff have had no option but to take the course of action they did, which has resulted in a course that is now a threat of prosecution?
An unpaid fare notice was one possible resolution the staff could have chosen, but for whatever reason they didn’t.
 

WesternLancer

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Hi WesternLancer,

Thats actualy something I asked them about when I sent them an email explaining the situation. I was advised that as I was reported for prosecution it wasn't relevant to the rest of my query. Not sure if thats particularly helpful for your question but it's the response I was given.
Thanks - it sounds like you were treated harshly given your personal circumstances. Good luck with the whole situation.
 

221129

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had no intent to avoid payment just no means to pay at the time.
Unfortunately, intent in law is based on actions and evidence. Not having means to pay is the simplest form of not having legal intent to pay. As you cannot pay if you have no means of payment. In my opinion and that of my revenue protection colleagues this would be a slam dunk case. Pay the £84. Unless you fancy a larger fine and a criminal record.
 

111-111-1

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Going to court rather than paying an £84 settlement is a risky strategy especially as you appear to be job hunting. So I would suggest paying the fee immediately.

I would however not forget it immediately, firstly I would with the cheque for the payment send a letter re-explaining what happened on the day asking for it to be reviewed and a fee of the same amount as an UFN being issued charged to you. You obviously gave your correct details. I guess had some ID with you if the job centre allowed a meeting to take place?

If you do not get anywhere push it further up the chain but by paying the £84 you will not have, possibly, gained a criminal record and probably paid a much higher fine.
 

Haywain

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An Unpaid Fare Notice is not a right, and they are rarely issued where a Penalty Fare scheme is in operation. GWR have, not unreasonably, interpreted the lack of any means of payment as intent not to pay - something on which the law will almost certainly back them up (see comments on intent by @221129, above). Pay the £84, write whatever letters you feel appropriate, but put it down to experience and in future check you have the means to pay before boarding a train.
 

Moxie

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Thank you all for the advice, the thread was enough to convince my father to lend me the money, so I'll be paying the fine shortly.

Have a nice day.
 

najaB

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Thank you all for the advice, the thread was enough to convince my father to lend me the money, so I'll be paying the fine shortly.

Have a nice day.
Late to the party, but I just wanted to point out that the £84 isn't a fine. It's the £4 fare that was due plus an admin fee. You shouldn't see it as an admission of wrongdoing.
 
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Stigy

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Late here too, but just to point out that having no means in this situation doesn’t necessarily constitutes an offence contrary to sec 5(3)a of the RRA. It depends on what was said under caution as to whether there’s evidence to prove such an offence. They would have to prove that the OP boarded the train knowing he didn’t have the means on him to pay for his journey. If he discovered mid-journey or only when approached that he did not have his wallet, then it would be hard to prove this.
 

Moxie

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Hello All,

After contacting transport focus who helped me to deal with the issue GWR have opted to withdraw the case.
 

WesternLancer

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Hello All,

After contacting transport focus who helped me to deal with the issue GWR have opted to withdraw the case.
Sounds like a good result - well done.

As a matter of general interest, do you know what aspect of the situation was it that Transport Focus made to GWR that meant GWR were prepared to withdraw it?
 

Stigy

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Sounds like a good result - well done.

As a matter of general interest, do you know what aspect of the situation was it that Transport Focus made to GWR that meant GWR were prepared to withdraw it?
A lot of TOCs would sooner withdraw a case rather than progress when an outside agency such as this applies some pressure. I’d hazard a guess this is more a gesture of goodwill?
 

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