Southeastern bylaw report

Alexa105

Member
Joined
5 Aug 2021
Messages
7
Location
Gravesend
Hello
I have received penalty fares ( twice which I paid) in the past couple of months. But yesterday I got a southeastern bylaw report that maybe resulted in prosecution.
I am very worried as I don’t know what to expect.
Any help or advise would be appreciated.
 
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AlterEgo

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Could you help us out with the following:

Guidance for those asking for advice

Many members will try to assist you, but please bear in mind the following:

  • We need to know all relevant facts in order to assist you, including, for example:
    • The stations where you started & finished your journey;
    • The stations where you changed trains (if applicable);
    • If you presented a ticket(s), the information stated under "Ticket type", "From", "To", "Route", and any other relevant details;
    • What happened in any encounter with railway staff;
    • The details of any paperwork with which you were issued.
  • Be careful not to post anything incriminating or personally identifying
  • We need to know what outcome(s) you would consider satisfactory
 

Fawkes Cat

Established Member
Joined
8 May 2017
Messages
1,352
Welcome to the forum

If I have understood you correctly, in the past you have been asked on two occasions to pay penalty fares (and have done so). Yesterday, you were pulled over and not offered a penalty fare but instead told that the railway would write to you. I am assuming that all of these incidents involved Southeastern.

The normal course of events is that Southeastern's letter will say that they are considering prosecuting you, and ask if there is anything that you want to tell them.

@Hadders has some excellent advice on how you should respond to this letter: you can see the advice here. But in this case, it's hard to know what the outcome will be. If Southeastern know that you have twice previously paid penalty fares, they may think that however much you promise to pay the right fare in future, you don't mean it: they may decide that taking you to court is the right thing to do.

If you are taken to court, then you will be charged under either the Regulation of Railways Act ('RoRA'), which means that Southeastern think that you meant not to pay the right fare, or under the railway byelaws, which is just a factual question of whether you had a valid ticket or not. This will mean that you have to go to court, or if you are prepared to plead guilty everything may be dealt with by a 'single justice procedure notice' which deals with everything by post.

If you are convicted, either of these charges will result in a fine, plus compensation (the train fare that you didn't pay) plus court costs, plus the prosecution's costs. Expect the fine to be around half a week's income, and everything else to amount to maybe £500 (could be more, could be less). A RoRA conviction in particular will have to be declared for the following year for things like getting insurance or starting a new job. There are some jobs (typically those involving handling money or a lot of personal trust so things like nursing, medicine, personal care and so on) where you will always have to declare a conviction - even one under the byelaws - for the rest of your life.

I don't think it's our role here to make moral judgements, but I think it's fair to point out that the chances of the railway taking you to court increases with every time you come to their attention. As this is the third time, you will be lucky if you do not end up being prosecuted. Being caught on future occasions will lead to further chances of being prosecuted and fined: ultimately repeated RoRA convictions can lead to time in prison. The easy way to avoid this happening is to pay the proper train fare every time you use a train.
 

Alexa105

Member
Joined
5 Aug 2021
Messages
7
Location
Gravesend
Welcome to the forum
If I have understood you correctly, in the past you have been asked on two occasions to pay penalty fares (and have done so). Yesterday, you were pulled over and not offered a penalty fare but instead told that the railway would write to you. I am assuming that all of these incidents involved Southeastern.

The normal course of events is that Southeastern's letter will say that they are considering prosecuting you, and ask if there is anything that you want to tell them.

@Hadders has some excellent advice on how you should respond to this letter: you can see the advice here. But in this case, it's hard to know what the outcome will be. If Southeastern know that you have twice previously paid penalty fares, they may think that however much you promise to pay the right fare in future, you don't mean it: they may decide that taking you to court is the right thing to do.

If you are taken to court, then you will be charged under either the Regulation of Railways Act ('RoRA'), which means that Southeastern think that you meant not to pay the right fare, or under the railway byelaws, which is just a factual question of whether you had a valid ticket or not. This will mean that you have to go to court, or if you are prepared to plead guilty everything may be dealt with by a 'single justice procedure notice' which deals with everything by post.

If you are convicted, either of these charges will result in a fine, plus compensation (the train fare that you didn't pay) plus court costs, plus the prosecution's costs. Expect the fine to be around half a week's income, and everything else to amount to maybe £500 (could be more, could be less). A RoRA conviction in particular will have to be declared for the following year for things like getting insurance or starting a new job. There are some jobs (typically those involving handling money or a lot of personal trust so things like nursing, medicine, personal care and so on) where you will always have to declare a conviction - even one under the byelaws - for the rest of your life.

I don't think it's our role here to make moral judgements, but I think it's fair to point out that the chances of the railway taking you to court increases with every time you come to their attention. As this is the third time, you will be lucky if you do not end up being prosecuted. Being caught on future occasions will lead to further chances of being prosecuted and fined: ultimately repeated RoRA convictions can lead to time in prison. The easy way to avoid this happening is to pay the proper train fare every time you use a train.
So does the penalty fares has a great impact in this case?
Is prosecution the only option?
Would I be eligible for out of court settlement?
I have just received a letter stating “the matter has been provisionally authorised for prosecution “ what does that means please
 
Last edited:

Fawkes Cat

Established Member
Joined
8 May 2017
Messages
1,352
Below is the letter I just received.
That's a standard letter, so please don't think that Southeastern have already decided to prosecute you. Respond honestly in line with the guidance @Hadders gives (and which I fully agree with) - and make sure that you get it back in time - the letter asks for your reply in seven days.

If you want someone to look at what you're planning to send, put it on this thread (not including anything that would identify you) and there will be people who can comment usefully.

(Edited to add): I think you also need to know how this forum works. There's a lot of people here with a lot of experience of how the railways deal with things - but they only pop in here from time to time when the rest of their life allows them to. We're not sitting here just waiting for people to ask us for help! So while it's important to protect your privacy, please consider if you can leave information up. I've given you my best advice - but it's always possible that I've got things wrong, or that someone else will spot something important that I've missed, and it wouldn't be fair on you to just rely on what I have said if there is someone who can say more.

And I should of course add that we're not lawyers and we're not doing this professionally. Everyone tries to give their best advice - but fundamentally we're no more reliable than someone you've just met in the pub. So by all means follow our advice - but at your own risk!
 
Last edited:

Alexa105

Member
Joined
5 Aug 2021
Messages
7
Location
Gravesend
That's a standard letter, so please don't think that Southeastern have already decided to prosecute you. Respond honestly in line with the guidance @Hadders gives (and which I fully agree with) - and make sure that you get it back in time - the letter asks for your reply in seven days.

If you want someone to look at what you're planning to send, put it on this thread (not including anything that would identify you) and there will be people who can comment usefully.

(Edited to add): I think you also need to know how this forum works. There's a lot of people here with a lot of experience of how the railways deal with things - but they only pop in here from time to time when the rest of their life allows them to. We're not sitting here just waiting for people to ask us for help! So while it's important to protect your privacy, please consider if you can leave information up. I've given you my best advice - but it's always possible that I've got things wrong, or that someone else will spot something important that I've missed, and it wouldn't be fair on you to just rely on what I have said if there is someone who can say more.

And I should of course add that we're not lawyers and we're not doing this professionally. Everyone tries to give their best advice - but fundamentally we're no more reliable than someone you've just met in the pub. So by all means follow our advice - but at your own risk!
Thank you for your help.

below is the reply I intend to send, any suggestions on what to mention or not would be appreciated.

I am writing in regards to the incident on August * 21.
I genuinely apologise for my actions, I should have purchased a valid ticket for my journey and produce it when asked by the inspectors. I have learned and expensive lesson from this incident.
I am keen to settle the matter without the need of court actions.
I’m offering to pay the outstanding fare and the train company’s administrative costs in dealing with the matter.
 

Fawkes Cat

Established Member
Joined
8 May 2017
Messages
1,352
Thank you for your help.

below is the reply I intend to send, any suggestions on what to mention or not would be appreciated.

I am writing in regards to the incident on August * 21. No need to say this - they'll be able to work it out as you're replying on the back of the letter they sent you
I genuinely apologise for my actions,. I should have purchased a valid ticket for my journey and produced it when asked by the inspectors. I have learned and expensive lesson from this incident. You probably want to explain what you will do as a result of learning that lesson - something like 'In future I will make sure that I have got the right ticket before getting on a train.'
I am keen to settle the matter without the need of court actions.
I’m offering to pay the outstanding fare and the train company’s your administrative costs in dealing with the this matter.
I've made a few suggestions. Some are correcting typoes. Otherwise, my comments are in italics and new words that you might want to use are in bold italics.

And since you were asked to put your comments on the back of the letter and return it, take a copy of the letter and your reply (photocopy or a photo with your phone) so that you know exactly what they said and what you have said in reply.
 

Alexa105

Member
Joined
5 Aug 2021
Messages
7
Location
Gravesend
I've made a few suggestions. Some are correcting typoes. Otherwise, my comments are in italics and new words that you might want to use are in bold italics.

And since you were asked to put your comments on the back of the letter and return it, take a copy of the letter and your reply (photocopy or a photo with your phone) so that you know exactly what they said and what you have said in reply.
Thanks for your help.

I can't see the letter in the OP's post - is it just me?
Sorry this is the letter.
 

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Hadders

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Welcome to the forum.

Forum members have already given sound advice above but here is the advice I normally give to people who have been caught in similar circumstances and who post here seeking advice.

It is important that you engage with and reply to this letter you have received from the train company. @Fawkes Cat has made some good suggestions which I agree with. My advice is always to consider including the following in your reply:

- That you are sorry for what has happened
- What you have learned from the incident
- That you are keen to settle the matter without the need for court action
- Offer to pay the outstanding fare and the train company's administrative costs in dealing with the matter

Make sure your reply is short and concise, don't give a sob story - they've heard it all before. Most train companies are usually prepared to offer an administrative settlement (commonly known as an out of court settlement) to people who engage with the process and who haven't come to their attention before. There is no guarantee of this, and the train company is within their rights to prosecute you in the magistrates court, however harsh this may seem.

An aggravating factor in your case is that you have previously been given Penalty Fares. My view is this doesn't necessarily mean that a settlement won't be offered but you don't really have much grounds for complaint if they do decide to prosecute. In future you must be very careful to make sure you have the correct ticket before getting on the train. A prosecution for fare evasion is a very serious issue and as well as the fine and publicity will potentially land you with a criminal record.

If you are offered a settlement the amount varies depending on the train company and circumstances but tend to be around a hundred pounds plus the outstanding fare. An out of court settlement might appear to be a fine, but it isn't and you won't have a criminal record as a result of accepting one.
 

Alexa105

Member
Joined
5 Aug 2021
Messages
7
Location
Gravesend
Welcome to the forum.

Forum members have already given sound advice above but here is the advice I normally give to people who have been caught in similar circumstances and who post here seeking advice.

It is important that you engage with and reply to this letter you have received from the train company. @Fawkes Cat has made some good suggestions which I agree with. My advice is always to consider including the following in your reply:

- That you are sorry for what has happened
- What you have learned from the incident
- That you are keen to settle the matter without the need for court action
- Offer to pay the outstanding fare and the train company's administrative costs in dealing with the matter

Make sure your reply is short and concise, don't give a sob story - they've heard it all before. Most train companies are usually prepared to offer an administrative settlement (commonly known as an out of court settlement) to people who engage with the process and who haven't come to their attention before. There is no guarantee of this, and the train company is within their rights to prosecute you in the magistrates court, however harsh this may seem.

An aggravating factor in your case is that you have previously been given Penalty Fares. My view is this doesn't necessarily mean that a settlement won't be offered but you don't really have much grounds for complaint if they do decide to prosecute. In future you must be very careful to make sure you have the correct ticket before getting on the train. A prosecution for fare evasion is a very serious issue and as well as the fine and publicity will potentially land you with a criminal record.

If you are offered a settlement the amount varies depending on the train company and circumstances but tend to be around a hundred pounds plus the outstanding fare. An out of court settlement might appear to be a fine, but it isn't and you won't have a criminal record as a result of accepting one.
Thank you
Regarding replying to the letter, is it advisable to change my address when sending it? because I won’t the able to receive letters from the initial address I gave before
 

Titfield

Member
Joined
26 Jun 2013
Messages
550
Thank you
Regarding replying to the letter, is it advisable to change my address when sending it? because I won’t the able to receive letters from the initial address I gave before

Yes it is absolutely essential that you give the address you can receive correspondence at. I would specifically state to them that "Please note my new correspondence address is.(insert new address)........"
 

Fawkes Cat

Established Member
Joined
8 May 2017
Messages
1,352
Thank you
Regarding replying to the letter, is it advisable to change my address when sending it? because I won’t the able to receive letters from the initial address I gave before
That sounds sensible. It’s really important now to stay in touch with the railway: if they do offer you an out of court settlement, then you need to respond and pay it: if you don’t, then the case will certainly end up in court. And if the case ends up in court without you knowing about it, then most likely you will be convicted and fined in your absence - and the first you would know would either be when a DBS check came back showing a conviction you didn’t know about, or when bailiffs found you to collect the fine (etc.) plus the bailiff’s fee - even more money to pay! There are ways to unwind a conviction that you didn’t know about, but they are complicated and could end up with you being convicted anyhow.

If you can, it’s also worth setting up Royal Mail post redirection to get post sent to your new address, just in case your change of address request gets missed. See https://www.royalmail.com/personal/receiving-mail/redirection but note that this is not a free service,
 

Hadders

Established Member
Senior Fares Advisor
Joined
27 Apr 2011
Messages
8,934
Thank you
Regarding replying to the letter, is it advisable to change my address when sending it? because I won’t the able to receive letters from the initial address I gave before
Yes, it is essential to tell the train company if your address is changing. I also agree with @Fawkes Cat about arranging for your post to be redirected.
 

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