Sorry - Another Northern Rail court summons

JimmyC

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Hello,

There are so many topics about this but I just wanted a quick bit of advice before I go to court with Northern Rail.

I lived in Bramley and I was getting the train to Harrogate for work - I needed to change in Leeds. I was running late (same old story) so boarded the train without a ticket, planning on buying one of the conductor who comes round most days. However, he didn't come raound on the 8 minute journey into Leeds.

I got off the train in Leeds and went straight to the ticket desk, I advised them that I had got on in Bramley and I needed a return ticket to and from there. Thy guy apologised that he had to issue me with a £20 fine and said to appeal it as he could tell I was being honest. It was for work, so the cost of the journey was being paid by my company.

I've read on Northern Rail website and the requirements of 5(1) of the RORA that if the intention was to avoid payment, I would be prosecuted.

I'm backing myself that they can't prove this and I'm planning to plead not guilty, but if someone could advise what they think before I have to go to court, I would appreciate any advise/tips.

Thank you in advance
 
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ForTheLoveOf

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Hello,

There are so many topics about this but I just wanted a quick bit of advice before I go to court with Northern Rail.

I lived in Bramley and I was getting the train to Harrogate for work - I needed to change in Leeds. I was running late (same old story) so boarded the train without a ticket, planning on buying one of the conductor who comes round most days. However, he didn't come raound on the 8 minute journey into Leeds.

I got off the train in Leeds and went straight to the ticket desk, I advised them that I had got on in Bramley and I needed a return ticket to and from there. Thy guy apologised that he had to issue me with a £20 fine and said to appeal it as he could tell I was being honest. It was for work, so the cost of the journey was being paid by my company.

I've read on Northern Rail website and the requirements of 5(1) of the RORA that if the intention was to avoid payment, I would be prosecuted.

I'm backing myself that they can't prove this and I'm planning to plead not guilty, but if someone could advise what they think before I have to go to court, I would appreciate any advise/tips.

Thank you in advance
It's unclear how your case has proceeded from a £20 fine (I presume this was actually a Penalty Fare, which is not a fine but it's easy to see how it might be taken to be one), to a prosecution under RoRA.

Did you refuse to accept the Penalty Fare?

If you were indeed issued with it, did you appeal it? If so, what happened after this?

We need slightly more background to be able to advise effectively.
 

JimmyC

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It's unclear how your case has proceeded from a £20 fine (I presume this was actually a Penalty Fare, which is not a fine but it's easy to see how it might be taken to be one), to a prosecution under RoRA.

Did you refuse to accept the Penalty Fare?

If you were indeed issued with it, did you appeal it? If so, what happened after this?

We need slightly more background to be able to advise effectively.

Hello -
gwrtimetable19

Thank you for your reply.

Yes, it was a penalty fare which I did appeal but it was turned down. I have since refused to pay the fine and the admin fees because I was not trying to avoid the fare and I thought this was obvious because I approached the memeber of Northern Rail staff and was compelety honest about my journey. I could have easily lied and they would have been none the wiser so I think I've been punished for being honest.

It's very much a principle thing because I am against fare dodging and always pay for my journey, which I did on this occasion. If I'd missed the train I would have probably lost my job and just feel it's Northern Rail trying to manipulte the law for financial gain. I could be complety wrong though??

Thank you



 

najaB

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I got off the train in Leeds and went straight to the ticket desk, I advised them that I had got on in Bramley and I needed a return ticket to and from there. Thy guy apologised that he had to issue me with a £20 fine and said to appeal it as he could tell I was being honest. It was for work, so the cost of the journey was being paid by my company.
Did you refuse or fail to pay the penalty fare?

(@gwrtimetable19 - should have read your response before replying :) )
 

JimmyC

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Leeds
Yes, I have since decline to pay the fine. I was very stubborn with this but would always hold my hands up if I think I've done something wrong but in this case, I really don't think I have.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how this would look in the eyes of the courts?

Thank you
 

JimmyC

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Location
Leeds
Thank you for your reply.

Yes, it was a penalty fare which I did appeal but it was turned down. I have since refused to pay the fine and the admin fees because I was not trying to avoid the fare and I thought this was obvious because I approached the memeber of Northern Rail staff and was compelety honest about my journey. I could have easily lied and they would have been none the wiser so I think I've been punished for being honest.

It's very much a principle thing because I am against fare dodging and always pay for my journey, which I did on this occasion. If I'd missed the train I would have probably lost my job and just feel it's Northern Rail trying to manipulte the law for financial gain. I could be complety wrong though??

Thank you
 

Bertie the bus

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You are not being punished for being honest and you would have gained nothing by being dishonest as Bramley is the last station before Leeds. You were correctly issued with the Penalty Fare as you joined a train at a Penalty Fare station without a ticket when you had the opportunity to purchase one. You might be able to come to some out of court settlement with Northern, even at this stage, but probably not if you keep playing the victim card.
 

najaB

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Yes, I have since decline to pay the fine. I was very stubborn with this but would always hold my hands up if I think I've done something wrong but in this case, I really don't think I have.
Unfortunately then you will have demonstrated an intent to pay the fare that was due. By way of explanation a penalty fare* is a higher than normal fare that is charged to passengers who have failed to pay for their travel before boarding, when there were facilities available so to do. Had you paid the fare then that would have ended the matter.

As the person in the ticket office said, there was a better than zero chance that you may have been able to successfully challenge the fare. Had you done so, even if the challenge was not successful, Northern would have been unable to prosecute you.

Having neither paid nor challenged you've left the door open for Northern to prosecute, and there's a fair chance that they will be successful.


That said, there may still be an opportunity to settle. If the court dates is at least a couple of weeks away, you can write to them explaining that you have seen the error of your ways and ask that they set the prosecution aside and let you pay a settlement fee. If the court date is imminent, make sure that you attend, turn up early and ask to speak to the prosecutor before your case is called. More than one poster has been able to negotiate a settlement on the day.

*The one complication to this is that Northern's scheme doesn't meet the full statutory requirements for a Penalty Fare Scheme.

Edit: I have read the later post and realise that you did, in fact challenge the penalty fare. I'm not sure if Northern are on solid legal ground to continue with a prosecution in this case.
 

JimmyC

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Unfortunately then you will have demonstrated an intent to pay the fare that was due. By way of explanation a penalty fare* is a higher than normal fare that is charged to passengers who have failed to pay for their travel before boarding, when there were facilities available so to do. Had you paid the fare then that would have ended the matter.

As the person in the ticket office said, there was a better than zero chance that you may have been able to successfully challenge the fare. Had you done so, even if the challenge was not successful, Northern would have been unable to prosecute you.

Having neither paid nor challenged you've left the door open for Northern to prosecute, and there's a fair chance that they will be successful.


That said, there may still be an opportunity to settle. If the court dates is at least a couple of weeks away, you can write to them explaining that you have seen the error of your ways and ask that they set the prosecution aside and let you pay a settlement fee. If the court date is imminent, make sure that you attend, turn up early and ask to speak to the prosecutor before your case is called. More than one poster has been able to negotiate a settlement on the day.

*The one complication to this is that Northern's scheme doesn't meet the full statutory requirements for a Penalty Fare Scheme.

Edit: I have read the later post and realise that you did, in fact challenge the penalty fare. I'm not sure if Northern are on solid legal ground to continue with a prosecution in this case.
Thank you for your rdetailed resonse. I was very suprised they have issued a summons because I didn't think they had a case after reading the RORA. I know I should have purchased a ticket before boarding, but it was either that or miss the train. The Northern Rail website does state they may prosecute if the intention was to avoid the fare. I paid full price for the fare when I got of in Leeds and the penalty fare was issued on top of this....I'd had enough of late trains and bad service from NR the extra £20 was just too much.

Cn I ask what would make you doubt their legal ground? And do you think I'm missing anything obvious that could lead to me losing in court?
 

Hadders

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Are there ticket purchasing facilities at Bramley? Either a ticket machine or ticket office? If so, and it was in working order and accepted your chosen payment method, then you committed an offence by boarding the train without a ticket.

A Penalty Fare being issued in these circumstances is the correct course of action. While it feels like a fine it isn't (only a court can impose a fine following conviction), it's a higher than normal fare which is given to people who have made an honest mistake.

It's not exactly clear where your case is at. You say you have refused to pay the Penalty Fare, has this now been escalated to court or is paying it still an option (even at a higher rate)? If it was me I'd pay it to make the, matter go away. Railway ticketing offences are 'strict liability' so in all probability you will be found guilty which will end up costing far more in time, effort and stress than just paying up if you're still able to do so.
 

najaB

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Cn I ask what would make you doubt their legal ground?
If they operated a "proper" Penalty Fare Scheme then they would be statue barred from prosecuting once you raised a challenge to the fare - regardless of if the challenge was upheld or not. Northern's scheme doesn't meet the requirements for a statutory Penalty Fare Scheme, so there is nothing in law that prevents them from prosecuting, but if they want their scheme to be treated as if it were fully backed by the law then, in principle, they shouldn't prosecute after an appeal.
And do you think I'm missing anything obvious that could lead to me losing in court?
As above, since they aren't prevented by law from proceeding with a prosecution then the fact that you've refused to pay the penalty fare can be taken as 'intent to avoid paying the correct fare' for the purposes of the Regulation of Railways Act.
 

najaB

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Railway ticketing offences are 'strict liability' so in all probability you will be found guilty which will end up costing far more in time, effort and stress than just paying up if you're still able to do so.
If I've read @JimmyC 's posts correctly, he is being prosecuted under the Regulation of Railways Act so Northern need to demonstrate intent. The issue is that failing to pay the penalty fare can be taken as the same.
 

talltim

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I thought a penalty fare was instead of a fare, not as well as?
In post #9 JimmyC says he paid the fare but not the penalty fare.
 

JimmyC

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If I've read @JimmyC 's posts correctly, he is being prosecuted under the Regulation of Railways Act so Northern need to demonstrate intent. The issue is that failing to pay the penalty fare can be taken as the same.
Thanks NajaB,

Can I pay at my destination if I am in a rush?


If you board a train without a valid ticket or Promise to Pay notice you may have to pay a Penalty Fare. If it is shown that your intention was to avoid your fare, then you are breaking the criminal law and you may be liable for prosecution.

This is directly of NR website - This is all very vague and uses the word 'may' - I had no intention of avoiding the actual fare so don't understand how I can be breaking the law, even if I got on without a ticket, which I see daily and people just buy it on the train.

Happy to be corrected though as I'm just deciding weather to go to court at the end of the month and fight my corner or pay whatever they want and move on.
 

JimmyC

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I thought a penalty fare was instead of a fare, not as well as?
In post #9 JimmyC says he paid the fare but not the penalty fare.
I paid the cost of the fare when I went to the ticket office, the £20 penalty fare was on top of the £10.20 fare I went up to pay. I didn't have to pay it at the time (just 21 days after the offence) and I have since refused to pay it.
 

Hadders

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The Penalty Fare should be twice the appropriate fare of £20 whichever is higher.

When did you go to the ticket office? Before or after the Penalty Fare was issued?
 

JimmyC

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If you travel on the railway with the intent of avoiding paying the fare then you may be prosecuted under criminal law. The current maximum penalty upon conviction is a £1,000 fine and/or three months imprisonment - This is more
The Penalty Fare should be twice the appropriate fare of £20 whichever is higher.

When did you go to the ticket office? Before or after the Penalty Fare was issued?
It was before the fine. I boarded the train in Bramley (1 stop away from Leeds) without a ticket, planning to buy one from the conductor who normally comes around but he/she didn't come, so when I got off the train in Leeds, I went straight to the ticket office and advised them I had boarded at Bramley and I needed to buy a return ticket from there. I paid the standard fair but was issued with the penalty fare on top.
 

trenopendo

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From what I have read, chances are you will be summarily convicted. Railway regulations carry strict liability and no amount of arguing will change that.

Try and plea for an out of court settlement.
 

Hadders

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Where exactly are you with this?

Have you been summoned to court or are they threatening to do this if you don't pay the Penalty Fare?
 

JimmyC

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Where exactly are you with this?

Have you been summoned to court or are they threatening to do this if you don't pay the Penalty Fare?
I've recevied an email from NR advising court has been booked at the end of Jan and I will receive summons in due course.
 

Hadders

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It is possible that the Penalty Fare has been incorrectly issued. I am not an expert in this area and others will be far better to advise on this.

My personal view is that I would try and keep the matter out of court. Parking the issue of whether or not the Penalty Fare was issued correctly you were guilty of an offence when you boarded the train without a ticket. Unless you absolutely know what you are doing and have expert advice I would not rate your chances in the Magistrates Court.
 

jamiearmley

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There is a ticket machine at bramley. It is at the entrance to the leeds bound platform and is hard to miss. Promise to pay tickets are available from the machine for those who require to purchase their ticket with cash. The station is in the penalty fare zone.
 

ukkid

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Edit, read above Northerns penalty scheme does not necessarily statute bar them from prosecuting after an appeal response. However, conversly does refusal to pay penalties and admin charges on top of a fare really show intent to avoid. Particularly when this is not a "proper" penalty scheme.
 
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221129

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To the OP I would consult a solicitor if I were you. I can see a couple of ways that you could argue your case here. The main one is that contrary to what has been said here, northern ARE statute barred from prosecuting after you've made an appeal.
 

221129

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If they operated a "proper" Penalty Fare Scheme then they would be statue barred from prosecuting once you raised a challenge to the fare - regardless of if the challenge was upheld or not. Northern's scheme doesn't meet the requirements for a statutory Penalty Fare Scheme, so there is nothing in law that prevents them from prosecuting, but if they want their scheme to be treated as if it were fully backed by the law then, in principle, they shouldn't prosecute after an appeal
This was a proper penalty fare, not one of their penalty fakes. Northern are Statute barred from prosecuting.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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Northern act as if their Penalty Fares scheme operates in compliance with the Regulations so we are entitled to take that at face value; it would be a very "adventurous" prosecutor who would admit he is prosecuting for a refusal to pay a Penalty Fare that is itself issued under a scheme not complying with the Regulations and I think it most unlikely that Northern's prosecutor would know or attempt this.

This being the case, if you want to defend this case then I think the best chance you have to use the defence (or rather, statute bar on prosecution) afforded by Regulation 11(3) of the Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations 2018. You submitted an appeal against a Penalty Fare. This was considered by the Appeals Body and a determination in respect of the outcome of your appeal was made by it. Northern are therefore barred from prosecuting you for the offence in question.

I don't think it's necessary to go any further or complicate it by arguing about whether a Penalty Fare fundamentally issued outwith the requirements of a Penalty Fares scheme (due to e.g. non-compliant signage as will inevitably be the case with Northern) is a fare whose payment you can avoid under S5(3)(a) of RoRA.
 
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najaB

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This was a proper penalty fare, not one of their penalty fakes. Northern are Statute barred from prosecuting.
If it was a properly issued Penalty Fare then yes, they are statute barred from prosecuting and they should know that!
 

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