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  1. #1

    Default Fixed Penalty Notice - Court Process

    Hi

    I am abit confused as to how a fixed penalty notice is dealt with once it goes to court? The reason I ask is that I received a visit from Drakes baiffs the other day for what turned out to be a FPN whihch I received almost a year ago. On receipt of the FPN I sent back the slip asking for a court hearing as I wanted to dispute it but didn't hear anything more about it. Foolishly in hindsight I thought 'oh well let sleeping dogs lie' and didn't chase for a hearing date. I then get a visit from bailiffs.

    What troubles me is that they had a 'distress warrant' from the court and when I asked the court what was going on they gave me a list of dates that they have supposedly written to me about this, but I have not received any letters from anyone about this. So what I want to know is what is the procedure when an unpaid FPN goes to the magistrates court. Surely they would have had to advise me of this and wouldn't I have had the opportunity to attend? Can anyone advise me what I should do now (apart from complain bitterely whihc I am in the process of doing)?

    Thanks

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Fixed Penalty Notice - Court Process

    With an FPN, if you elect for a court hearing, then the FPN is effectively voided and should be replaced in due course by a summons to a Magistrates' Court.

    A summons can be served in several ways

    a) by hand
    b) by registered or recorded delivery
    c) by first class post.

    If a), then the authorities can produce a witness to the Court that the summons was personally served on Mr X at HH time on DDicon day.

    If b), the the law presumes service regardless of whether you receive it or not

    If c), then it is deemed served 2 says after posting (5 for 2nd class) but this presumption can be rebutted.

    You need to get back in touch with the Court and ask on what date information was laid and when the summons was issued. It sounds like, on the face of it, that they have ignoredicon your election for trial and are simply trying to enforce the FPN fine.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Fixed Penalty Notice - Court Process

    Hi again

    Sorry but this one rumble on and I don't seem to be getting anywhere with it. I wrote a letter of complain to the Fines Enforcement Officer, who totally ignoredicon the fact that I asked for a hearing and just wrote back to me saying 'pay the bailiffs'. So I escalated the matter and wrote to the Court Manager and basically got the same response. Neither one of them even acknowledged the fact that I asked for a hearing or told me why I hadn't been given one. All they would say is pay the bailiffs. Also the letter from the Court Manager completely conflicted with the order of events from the Fines Officer. It now seems that they are back pedalling and that they are no longer claiming that they wrote to me to advise me of what was happening. My question is what do I do now if they won't answer my complaint properly and call off the bailiffs?

    Oh sorry yes one further thing it would seem that what has actually happened is that they have gone straight from issuing a payment reminder to issuing a distress warrant without informing me at all. I have had a look at the Magistrates Court Act 1980 and it says that a Distress Warrant can be issued if you are in default of Court Fines, however how can I be in default of a fine I do not know exists. Just for clarity, obviously I knew the FPN existed but it did not become a court fine until the FPN was registered with the Courts. Do you think this is correct (i.e. I can't be in default if they didn't tell me about it) or am I barking up the wrong tree?

    Thanks


  4. #4

    Default Re: Fixed Penalty Notice - Court Process

    Sorry one last question. I have seen on this forum that Distress warrants from the courts have a 90 day shelf life, is this correct and if so can some one point me in the direction of the relevant legislation. The Ditress warrant in this case was issued in August 2007, so if 90 days is correct it is well out of date.


  5. #5

    Default Re: Fixed Penalty Notice - Court Process

    Hi

    Sorry to be a pain but I just needed to bump this, as this is now becoming increasingly urgent. The distress warrant comes off hold tomorrow, I have spent the morning on the phone trying to sort this out and have tried the CAB the Community Legal Service and various other numbers and noone seems to know anything about this.

    I am now very stressed and starting to panic!!


  6. #6

    Default Re: Fixed Penalty Notice - Court Process

    Normally FPN's would be pursued by the Magistrates Court but as there are almost one million unpaid Magistrate Court Fines the Ministry of Justice has given contracts to 3 companies to pursue these. These are Swift, Philips and Drakes.

    Their fee scale has been set by the Ministry of Justice and varies between different areas of the country.

    Until January this year the Warrant of Distress had a "life" of 90 days. The contracts have been changed and I understand that this period has been extended to 120 days. I have written to the Ministry of Justice for confirmation. In any event this warrant would be 200 days old !!!


  7. #7

    Default Re: Fixed Penalty Notice - Court Process

    Posted on wrong thread

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  8. #8

    Default Re: Fixed Penalty Notice - Court Process

    Thanks very much for responding Tomtubby.

    I ended up speaking to the manager of the Magistrates Court in question yesterday, who to be fair was nice enough and seemed to be sympathetic, but when I asked him about the 'life span' of the warrant he said it didn't have one and was valid until it was paid(?) Most confusing. I will have a look on the MOJ website this morning and see what I can find. I don't suppose this life span of 90 days (or 120 as the case may be) is contained in any if the relevant legislation. I have checked out most of it but not found anything about validity periods to be honest. So does this mean that the warrant is now invalid and needs to be returned to the Court?

    Someone from the enforcements team at the Court is to call me back today to see what they can do about it for me. I think after speaking to them yesterday they have realised that this is a genuine misunderstanding and that I was not trying to 'fine dodge'. All I want to do is to get it out of the hands of Drakes so I can sort it out with the courts.



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