Question regarding Court Summons process

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AAA12345

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Hi all,

To keep it short, I was caught travelling with an expired railcard with SouthEastern. I received a letter asking for my side of the story and information (like insurance number, I believe it was called a pre-prosecution letter or something), which I responded with all the correct details and also a page with writing explaining the situation, my side of the story, and the fact that I would be happy to pay the ticket fare as well as any administration fee to keep it out of court (this letter was placed in the same envelope as the information page). Today I have received a court summons.

My question is: I made it clear in the earlier reply that I would prefer an out of court settlement (the page attached to the pre-prosection letter). Does this letter get sent to Southeastern and is it read by people with the authority to offer me an out of court settlement? Or does it simply get sent to the people that are compiling all the information needed for a court summons (and therefore my OoC preference is ignored).

Essentially, does the fact that they sent me a court summons even after I made it clear I wanted an OoC settlement in the pre-prosecution reply make it clear that they dont want a OoC? Or should I contact the prosecutions office and try my luck again.

I was hoping that they would send me an out of court settlement instead of the court summons, but of course this hasn't happened. I'm just trying to get an understanding of the process and if my chances of an OoC settlement are greatly reduced because they send me a court summons anyway.
 
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Haywain

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It’s their choice how to proceed but it is well worth trying contacting the prosecutions office again.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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I'm sure even up until the day of the hearing you'd be able to settle, even if it means paying the prosecutor on the day itself at the court, so long as the case is straightforward and you're not a repeat offender.
 

AAA12345

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So from the replies, I assume they can send an out-of-court settlement from reading your side of the events instead of a court summons? So they read my side of the story, saw that I would prefer to settle out of court, and then send me a court summons anyway? That's their choice, I just wanted to understand that they did indeed read my side of the story and decided not to offer an OoC.

I suppose I will have to contact them again. I have a phone number for the prosections office, and also I have their address. I'll try to call them Monday (Tuesday if they are closed for Bank Holiday). If that doesnt work I'll have to send another letter. A couple of follow up questions:

1. Is it possible to come to an OoC settlement over the phone with SE? I thought I read somewhere that it can't be done over the phone but I'm not entirely sure.

2. How quickly does SE prosecutions get back to you in terms of mail?
 

Tazi Hupefi

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So from the replies, I assume they can send an out-of-court settlement from reading your side of the events instead of a court summons? So they read my side of the story, saw that I would prefer to settle out of court, and then send me a court summons anyway? That's their choice, I just wanted to understand that they did indeed read my side of the story and decided not to offer an OoC.

I suppose I will have to contact them again. I have a phone number for the prosections office, and also I have their address. I'll try to call them Monday (Tuesday if they are closed for Bank Holiday). A couple of follow up questions:

1. Is it possible to come to an OoC settlement over the phone with SE? I thought I read somewhere that it can't be done over the phone but I'm not entirely sure.

2. How quickly does SE prosecutions get back to you in terms of mail?
In your case, unless you were smart and sent it using recorded / tracked delivery and can see that they definitely got it, I'd imagine they haven't ever seen or received your letter in the first place, and they've just assumed you've failed to respond and issued a summons.

You need to keep contacting them and speak to someone. I'm sure they'll agree over the phone, doubt it on a bank holiday though. You'll have zero chance of them withdrawing the case against you however, until they've received cleared payment, and not just a promise.

Be aware that legally speaking, if they accept your offer to settle, they may not be able to simply withdraw the case at this point, but they will offer no evidence on the day of the hearing, meaning the case is dismissed by the court and you're not convicted. You don't need to be there.
 

AAA12345

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In your case, unless you were smart and sent it using recorded / tracked delivery and cam see that they definitely got it, I'd imagine they haven't ever seen or received your letter in the first place, and they've just assumed you've failed to respond and issues a summons.

You need to keep contacting them and speak to someone.
I did send it via tracked next day delivery, and received their electronic signature on Royal Mail as proof they received it. What was strange was the stamped address on the front of the envelope was different to the printed address for the prosecutions office for SE printed on the actual letter (only a slightly different post code). I decided to return it to the address stamped on the front of the envelope. I doubt that would cause much issue though.

I took all the advice on this forum when writing my side of the story, apologising, taking responsibility, asking to settle etc. etc. I guess I should just assume they weren't happy with it. I'll call them on Monday/Tuesday, I would just like to have a bit of a heads up regarding the likelihood of success in an OoC settlement.
 

Deafdoggie

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What was strange was the stamped address on the front of the envelope was different to the printed address for the prosecutions office for SE printed on the actual letter (only a slightly different post code). I decided to return it to the address stamped on the front of the envelope. I doubt that would cause much issue though.
Don't worry about that. For large volume users, Royal Mail will have different post codes to help with their sorting process.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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I did send it via tracked next day delivery, and received their electronic signature on Royal Mail as proof they received it. What was strange was the stamped address on the front of the envelope was different to the printed address for the prosecutions office for SE printed on the actual letter (only a slightly different post code). I decided to return it to the address stamped on the front of the envelope. I doubt that would cause much issue though.

I took all the advice on this forum when writing my side of the story, apologising, taking responsibility, asking to settle etc. etc. I guess I should just assume they weren't happy with it. I'll call them on Monday/Tuesday, I would just like to have a bit of a heads up regarding the likelihood of success in an OoC settlement.
Great, keep hold of it, because you can prove that you've done your best to resolve!

I still think it's been mislaid or overlooked, so I'm sure you have nothing to worry about once you speak to a human and explain. You can even tell them you have proof you replied if they say you didn't!
 

1955LR

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I did send it via tracked next day delivery, and received their electronic signature on Royal Mail as proof they received it. What was strange was the stamped address on the front of the envelope was different to the printed address for the prosecutions office for SE printed on the actual letter (only a slightly different post code). I decided to return it to the address stamped on the front of the envelope. I doubt that would cause much issue though.
It is possible that not using the postcode from the letter would mean your response letter would end up in the wrong department, hopefully they would pass it on.
 

skyhigh

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Assuming the letter hasn't been lost (which I doubt) it will have been read by someone with authority to offer a settlement. Their willingness to agree one will probably depend upon several factors - how long the railcard has been expired for, if you were using an eticket they'll also be able to see if you've travelled other times with a discounted ticket since your railcard expired for example. There's no guarantee that they will accept a settlement, it's entirely up to them, but it won't hurt to contact them again to ask.
 

js1000

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I did send it via tracked next day delivery, and received their electronic signature on Royal Mail as proof they received it. What was strange was the stamped address on the front of the envelope was different to the printed address for the prosecutions office for SE printed on the actual letter (only a slightly different post code). I decided to return it to the address stamped on the front of the envelope. I doubt that would cause much issue though.

I took all the advice on this forum when writing my side of the story, apologising, taking responsibility, asking to settle etc. etc. I guess I should just assume they weren't happy with it. I'll call them on Monday/Tuesday, I would just like to have a bit of a heads up regarding the likelihood of success in an OoC settlement.

All sounds rather odd. They have the right to pursue in court - but in reality courts are supposed to be a last resort, even more so at the moment given the impact from Covid. Not to mention they be better off financially with an OoC settlement than a fine in court.

You've shown contrition and this is your first offence, as such I'd suggest they are compelled to seek an out of court settlement. They generally only refuse to reach an OoC settlement if there are repeated instances of fare evasion, or an extreme level of fare evasion where deliberate actions have been taken to defraud the railway.

I would suggest resending the letter again. It genuinely wouldn't surprise if it ended up in the wrong hands or the person who had the authority to offer a settlement was in a bad mood.

Personally, I'm not sure if I would call them. Ideally you want a written record of your correspondence. The TOC should know that as well as and simply say "we will review your case and your letter and get back to you". That's not to say they won't say that but I'd be amazed if they conducted some form of on-phone mediation.
 
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AAA12345

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All sounds rather odd. They have the right to pursue in court - but in reality courts are supposed to be a last resort, even more so at the moment given the impact from Covid. Not to mention they be better off financially with an OoC settlement than a fine in court.

You've shown contrition and this is your first offence, as such I'd suggest they are compelled to seek an out of court settlement. They generally only refuse to reach an OoC settlement if there are repeated instances of fare evasion, or an extreme level of fare evasion where deliberate actions have been taken to defraud the railway.

I would suggest resending the letter again. It genuinely wouldn't surprise if it ended up in the wrong hands or the person who had the authority to offer a settlement was in a bad mood.

Personally, I'm not sure if I would call them. Ideally you want a written record of your correspondence. The TOC should know that as well as and simply say "we will review your case and your letter and get back to you". That's not to say they won't say that but I'd be amazed if they conducted some form of on-phone mediation.
The only thing with writing to them is how quickly will they respond to me? The court date is later this month so I would want to correspond with them quickly, and the time lag between letters is not ideal.

I'll definitely write to them too but do you know how quickly SE prosecutions respond to letters?

In your case, unless you were smart and sent it using recorded / tracked delivery and can see that they definitely got it, I'd imagine they haven't ever seen or received your letter in the first place, and they've just assumed you've failed to respond and issued a summons.

You need to keep contacting them and speak to someone. I'm sure they'll agree over the phone, doubt it on a bank holiday though. You'll have zero chance of them withdrawing the case against you however, until they've received cleared payment, and not just a promise.

Be aware that legally speaking, if they accept your offer to settle, they may not be able to simply withdraw the case at this point, but they will offer no evidence on the day of the hearing, meaning the case is dismissed by the court and you're not convicted. You don't need to be there.
Just on your final paragraph, if I am able to settle with them, are there any long terms affects of the fact that I was summoned to court in the first place? Even if we ended up settling prior to the court date?
 
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Tazi Hupefi

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The only thing with writing to them is how quickly will they respond to me? The court date is later this month so I would want to correspond with them quickly, and the time lag between letters is not ideal.

I'll definitely write to them too but do you know how quickly SE prosecutions respond to letters?


Just on your final paragraph, if I am able to settle with them, are there any long terms affects of the fact that I was summoned to court in the first place? Even if we ended up settling prior to the court date?
Depends what the offence is. If if it’s a Byelaw, no, there won’t be any adverse affect at all, unless you are convicted.

If its Regulation of Railways Act 1889, the issuance of a summons will have generated a court / police file, which the court update either at the end of a trial/conviction/disposal. This will be on the Police National Computer, (along with the fact the case was discontinued) but will not be disclosed on even an enhanced criminal record check unless there is a very compelling reason to make someone aware of that accusation. Compelling reasons would be jobs in law, police, regulated finance roles etc. As time goes on, it gets even more unlikely it would ever be disclosed even for these types of jobs!

On some job applications for security conscious roles you are sometimes asked:

“Have you ever been subject to a criminal investigation, whether or not it led to proceedings?”

This is not common though at all, but you’d have to answer honestly.
 

island

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Depends what the offence is. If if it’s a Byelaw, no, there won’t be any adverse affect at all, unless you are convicted.

If its Regulation of Railways Act 1889, the issuance of a summons will have generated a court / police file, which the court update either at the end of a trial/conviction/disposal. This will be on the Police National Computer, (along with the fact the case was discontinued) but will not be disclosed on even an enhanced criminal record check unless there is a very compelling reason to make someone aware of that accusation. Compelling reasons would be jobs in law, police, regulated finance roles etc. As time goes on, it gets even more unlikely it would ever be disclosed even for these types of jobs!
Just to observe that “regulated finance roles” as you put it only require a standard DBS check which does not display non-conviction information.
 

Wolfie

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Hi all,

To keep it short, I was caught travelling with an expired railcard with SouthEastern. I received a letter asking for my side of the story and information (like insurance number, I believe it was called a pre-prosecution letter or something), which I responded with all the correct details and also a page with writing explaining the situation, my side of the story, and the fact that I would be happy to pay the ticket fare as well as any administration fee to keep it out of court (this letter was placed in the same envelope as the information page). Today I have received a court summons.

My question is: I made it clear in the earlier reply that I would prefer an out of court settlement (the page attached to the pre-prosection letter). Does this letter get sent to Southeastern and is it read by people with the authority to offer me an out of court settlement? Or does it simply get sent to the people that are compiling all the information needed for a court summons (and therefore my OoC preference is ignored).

Essentially, does the fact that they sent me a court summons even after I made it clear I wanted an OoC settlement in the pre-prosecution reply make it clear that they dont want a OoC? Or should I contact the prosecutions office and try my luck again.

I was hoping that they would send me an out of court settlement instead of the court summons, but of course this hasn't happened. I'm just trying to get an understanding of the process and if my chances of an OoC settlement are greatly reduced because they send me a court summons anyway.
Two questions come to mind:
a. How much out of date was the Railcard?
b. Have you had any past issues with Southeastern or more generally on the railways?

The answers to those may just possibly explain their response.

Depends what the offence is. If if it’s a Byelaw, no, there won’t be any adverse affect at all, unless you are convicted.

If its Regulation of Railways Act 1889, the issuance of a summons will have generated a court / police file, which the court update either at the end of a trial/conviction/disposal. This will be on the Police National Computer, (along with the fact the case was discontinued) but will not be disclosed on even an enhanced criminal record check unless there is a very compelling reason to make someone aware of that accusation. Compelling reasons would be jobs in law, police, regulated finance roles etc. As time goes on, it gets even more unlikely it would ever be disclosed even for these types of jobs!

On some job applications for security conscious roles you are sometimes asked:

“Have you ever been subject to a criminal investigation, whether or not it led to proceedings?”

This is not common though at all, but you’d have to answer honestly.
I have no idea what field the OP works in. I'm utterly sure though that a summons would show, no matter how old, on a DV check for example.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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Two questions come to mind:
a. How much out of date was the Railcard?
b. Have you had any past issues with Southeastern or more generally on the railways?

The answers to those may just possibly explain their response.


I have no idea what field the OP works in. I'm utterly sure though that a summons would show, no matter how old, on a DV check for example.
A Byelaw offence summons shouldn't show on PNC bacause it shouldn't be possible to generate an ASN (Arrest Summons Number) for a non recordable offence (unless it is being prosecuted at the same time as a recordable offence) from ACRO, which is what gets the summons on to PNC, (and provides the TOC Prosecutor with your criminal record history, which may be relevant during sentencing).

Whether I'd trust ACRO to be diligent enough to realise it's a non recordable Byelaw offence and refuse the ASN......that's another matter. Policing organisations love information.

As you say though, for DV and similar national security level vetting, I'm pretty sure the spooks have access to information even we don't know about ourselves, so I'd agree, it will appear somewhere in that scenario!


Just to observe that “regulated finance roles” as you put it only require a standard DBS check which does not display non-conviction information.
Some regulated finance roles require an Enhanced DBS (or higher), particularly senior roles within the FCA, Bank of England, HMRC or other quasi regulatory organisations.
 

Wolfie

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A Byelaw offence summons shouldn't show on PNC bacause it shouldn't be possible to generate an ASN (Arrest Summons Number) for a non recordable offence (unless it is being prosecuted at the same time as a recordable offence) from ACRO, which is what gets the summons on to PNC, (and provides the TOC Prosecutor with your criminal record history, which may be relevant during sentencing).

Whether I'd trust ACRO to be diligent enough to realise it's a non recordable Byelaw offence and refuse the ASN......that's another matter. Policing organisations love information.

As you say though, for DV and similar national security level vetting, I'm pretty sure the spooks have access to information even we don't know about ourselves, so I'd agree, it will appear somewhere in that scenario!



Some regulated finance roles require an Enhanced DBS (or higher), particularly senior roles within the FCA, Bank of England, HMRC or other quasi regulatory organisations.
Lots of roles in HMRC, HMT and probably FCA, Bank of England and indeed the CPS actually require DV.
 

island

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Some regulated finance roles require an Enhanced DBS (or higher), particularly senior roles within the FCA, Bank of England, HMRC or other quasi regulatory organisations.
Those would be regulatory roles, not finance roles.

FCA (any level) requires enhanced DBS, Bank of England requires minimum SC.

But we are getting off-topic.
 

AAA12345

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One more question. If I write to Southeastern, and they still decide to ignore my OoC settlement request, do they typically write back to notify me of their decision? Or do they simply ignore my letter and continue with court proceedings.
 

Haywain

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If I write to Southeastern, and they still decide to ignore my OoC settlement request, do they typically write back to notify me of their decision? Or do they simply ignore my letter and continue with court proceedings.
They can do either.
 

WesternLancer

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One more question. If I write to Southeastern, and they still decide to ignore my OoC settlement request, do they typically write back to notify me of their decision? Or do they simply ignore my letter and continue with court proceedings.
You would probably need to contact the Court to find out if the case had been withdrawn (even up to the point of going / ringing on the day to find out that)
 

Haywain

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You would probably need to contact the Court to find out if the case had been withdrawn (even up to the point of going / ringing on the day to find out that)
Southeastern are not going to withdraw court proceedings without contacting the OP about a settlement.
 

AAA12345

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I still havent received a response for my last letter, its been a week since then. Another question regarding how I proceed: What is the success rate of providing my own offer?

Until now I've been asking for them to offer an out of court settlement (obviously in a more formal manner). Since they are ignoring the letters, should I send another one with my own offer (that will of course be higher than what they would receive if I plead guilty)? Otherwise I'm just going to send another, super concise letter asking for a settlement again.
 

Fawkes Cat

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Others here may be able to say otherwise, but I am not aware of any cases where writing and offering a settlement amount has worked.

If I have understood things properly, you wrote seeking a settlement but Southeastern have summoned you to court; you have responded by seeking an out of court settlement and they have not replied.

If I have got that right, your only option is to prepare for court: make sure you get there early and try to find the prosecutor to see if you can agree a settlement before the case is heard. In case that doesn't work, make sure that you have proof of your income with you to make sure that your fine is based on your real income and not some (higher) default figure.
 

AAA12345

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Final update

I did end up sending a 3rd letter asking for an OoC settlement, and I included an offer of my own.

They responded with an OoC settlement offer of their own with was LOWER than my offer (not sure why they didn't take my offer but I'm not complaining).

Its been paid off on their website and it seems like the case is closed. Happy days. Any advice on how to double check that everything is settled?
 

Fawkes Cat

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Thanks for letting us know.

I don't think that you have anything to worry about now, but if you want to be really sure, then turn up to court on the day that the summons told you about. I don't know if there is a paper list that you can check to make sure that your case isn't listed or whether you will need to sit all day in court to make sure that either your case isn't called - or if it is, that the railway do whatever they have to do to withdraw it - but by being there, you can make sure.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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Wouldn't bother turning up at court to check. Give them a call and if no answer, just send them an email explaining what happened, but the case may still go ahead at this point, but the prosecutor will just offer no evidence, and the case will be dismissed.
 
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