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Sweeney Todd

DVLA Late Licensing Penalty

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Hi,

 

2 years ago my car blew up on my on the motorway. I SORNed the car and bought a new one. I eventually sold the car for scrap in April of last year and sent the DVLA the notification slip.

 

I have now been advised that they are fining me £80 (£40 if I pay quickly) because they say that they didn't receive the notification. They are saying that I have to pay the fine or provide a copy of a DVLA acknowledgment letter that the DVLA apparently sent to me 4 weeks after the sale.

 

This was over a year ago and if I receied the letter, I don't recall, I wouldn't have kept it for this length of time on the chance that they may have failed to maintain accurate records.

 

I obviously feel aggrieved at this and, if truth be told, this penalty is a lot of money to me that i can't really afford to pay.

 

I tried writing to them, providing copies of email exchanges confirming the sale of the vehicle last year and showing monies paid into a Paypal account, but today received a letter which reads:

 

Thank you for your response concerning the late licesing penalty imposed upon you for failing to relicense your vehicle as required1.

 

Although you have indicated that you are no longer the keeper of the vehicle, the Department has not received notification of this2. When the department is advised that the keeper of the vehicle has changed we send an acknowledgement letter within 4 weeks of notification. It is a matter for you to pursue this letter. Details on this process can be found on the V5C. If you can provide an acknowledgement letter that was issued prior to the Late Licensing penalty then no further action will be taken.

 

However, on the information before us you are still liable for the £80 penalty. Only payments received by 06/07/2009 are at the reduced rate of £40.00.

 

Please pay this penalty by cheque or postal orders made payable to 'DVLA', writing the vehicle registration mark on the back. The payment together with this letter should then be returned to the above address. Payments cannot be made by instalments. If you wish to pay by debit / credit card please phone the above number.

 

Should you need to contact us, please quote the registration mark of the vehicle.

 

Yours sincerely

Mrs P Woolley

Enforcement Manager

 

1 As stated in Section 7A of Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1995 (as amended)

2 Contrary to Regulation 22 to 24 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002.

 

My intended reply, which I would appreciate feedback on is:

 

Dear Mrs Woolley

 

I write with reference to your letter dated 19 June 2009 (copy attached).

 

I would kindly ask that you reconsider this matter and your intention to impose a penalty upon me.

 

 

As per my previous correspondence, I submitted the correct documentation to DVLA in April of 2008 and I have also provided you with correspondence confirming the sale of the vehicle and payment by the new owner. Whilst I appreciate that a letter may or may not have been sent to me when I sold the vehicle, I do not believe that anyone would be expected to retain a copy of such a letter for a period of over 12 months on the chance that DVLA may fail to maintain accurate records.

 

 

I would therefore like to advise that I formally dispute this penalty and would kindly ask that the penalty be waived. If you are not able or willing to do so, I would be grateful if you would kindly advise me of the correct procedure to appeal this charge.

 

 

I intend to defend this penalty charge rigorously, as I believe that the error has been made at DVLA in failing to update the records correctly upon receipt of my change of ownership notification.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

Sweeney Todd"

 

I would appreciate any feedback or input before I send the letter.

 

Many thanks

Sweeney

Edited by Sweeney Todd

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I would not send that letter. I think it would be a mistake to ask how to appeal. It puts you on the defensive.

Just write back stating that you fulfilled your legal obligations by sending them the notification of change of keeper, and point out to them that there is no legislation that requires you to persue any acknowledgement letter. Also say that if they disagree that you wish the matter to be dealt with by a Court.

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I agree with gwc. You should be very firm and direct in stating you complied with the law in notifying them correctly. Should they disagree they will have to pursue the matter to court.

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I'd ignore them altogther. If you feel that you must reply then simply state that you dispute the penalty on will not be paying it - A very simple and 'to the point' one liner should do it. If the matter comes to court you will be handing them an advantage if you openly discuss your defence with them before hand. They have no appeals process so end of story - from our perspective there is no reason to debate the matter with them and you have no legal obligation under the law to do so. The DVLA seems to operate this [problem] by pressuring people into submission. If you refuse to communicate with them then all they can do is send a summons.

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I'm uncomfortable with ignoring them because then you get into the old DCA phone call rigmarole.

 

Taking peoples advice on board, do people think that this looks ok?

 

Dear Mrs Woolley

 

I write with reference to your letter dated 19 June 2009 (copy attached).

 

As per my previous correspondence, I submitted the correct documentation to DVLA in April of 2008 and I have again provided you with correspondence confirming the sale of the vehicle and payment by the new owner in my recent correspondence which you have acknowledged receipt of.

 

Whilst I appreciate that a letter may or may not have been sent to me when I sold the vehicle, I do not believe that anyone would be expected to retain a copy of such a letter for a period of over 12 months on the chance that DVLA may fail to maintain accurate records. Likewise, there is no legislation requiring me to persue an acknowledgment letter.

 

I fulfilled my legal obligations in advising DVLA of the change of ownership in April 2008. As such, I intend to defend this penalty charge rigorously, as I believe that the error has been made at DVLA in failing to update the records correctly upon receipt of my change of ownership notification.

 

If you still intend to pursue me on this matter, then I would kindly ask that the matter by handled by the courts.

 

Yours sincerely,

Sweeney Todd

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I'm uncomfortable with ignoring them because then you get into the old DCA phone call rigmarole.

 

Taking peoples advice on board, do people think that this looks ok?

 

Dear Mrs Woolley

 

I write with reference to your letter dated 19 June 2009 (copy attached).

 

As per my previous correspondence, I submitted the correct documentation to DVLA in April of 2008 and I have again provided you with correspondence confirming the sale of the vehicle and payment by the new owner in my recent correspondence which you have acknowledged receipt of.

 

Whilst I appreciate that a letter may or may not have been sent to me when I sold the vehicle, I do not believe that anyone would be expected to retain a copy of such a letter for a period of over 12 months on the chance that DVLA may fail to maintain accurate records. Likewise, there is no legislation requiring me to persue an acknowledgment letter.

 

I fulfilled my legal obligations in advising DVLA of the change of ownership in April 2008. As such, I intend to defend this penalty charge rigorously, as I believe that the error has been made at DVLA in failing to update the records correctly upon receipt of my change of ownership notification.

 

If you still intend to pursue me on this matter, then I would kindly ask that the matter by handled by the courts.

 

Yours sincerely,

Sweeney Todd

pursue

acknowledgement

 

Otherwise fine

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Thanks, Pat. Quite embarrassing spelling mistakes, but I appreciate you pointing them out otherwise it would have most likely have gone out with them in place.

 

I will post the letter tomorrow and advise on developments.

 

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Sweeny Todd,

It’s a good letter in so much as it gets your valid points across but you are potentially revealing the defence that you will be using in court. This will place you at a considerable disadvantage should the matter reach the court stage. I’ll try and elaborate on these points.

From your comments so far you seem happy to go to court and defend your corner. With that in mind you need to adopt a stance which is in line with that type of ‘end game’. Openly discussing your evidence with you accuser is certainly not the way to do that. On top of that your response gives out the wrong ‘vibe’ – it’s too defensive – you’re trying to justify every aspect of the case to them. They will read this as weakness on your part and they’ll continue with their bullying / hounding type tactics. Sorry to be so brutal but this is how this works in the legal / not so legal world.

You need to turn the tables so to speak. The risk with the DVLA’s approach is that you can make them look completely unreasonable when the matter reaches court. On top of that you can demonstrate the bully-boy tactics of the DVLA and their debt collector henchmen. In my particular case they have sent me a ‘Debt Recovery Notice’ when in fact no debt yet exists as my case has yet to be proven in a court of law – that potentially is an attempt to gain money through a deception. Technically what the Debt Collecting Agency is trying to do it make to accept the out of court settlement – that is all the DVLA were trying to make you do with their letters thus far. You must remember that these letters from the DVLA and DCA’s are purely ‘offers to settle out of court’ – you have no obligation to either accept their offer or to enter into a dialogue regarding the offer.

If the DCA telephone you then simply state that you are not accepting the offer of settlement which they made in their letter to you. Technically at that point they should go away. Specify that you are recording the telephone conversation. If they try any method of talking you into paying the £80 settlement then they will in effect be giving you unqualified / unsolicited legal advice which in itself could carry a potential penalty for them. Make sure that you take the name of the person who is calling you – always do this at the start of the conversation. Ask if the DCA is a member of any professional body. Also ask who their regulator is.

In the end it is the DVLA themselves who will have to decide if they take the matter to court. It stands to reason that they will judge each case on its own merits. If they have had little or no communication from you then they are just going to be engulfed in the ‘fog of war’ – they won’t have a clue as to the reasons for your non-submission to their tactics. This makes their case against you much higher risk (from their perspective) for several reasons.

Firstly, by virtue of the fact that they have no official appeals procedure, they cannot use ‘non communication’ as a method to attack you in court. In court you would simply ask the DVLA witness, “Could you please outline the OFFICIAL appeals procedure?” (emphasis on the word ‘official ’) And he / she would reply with, “There isn’t one.” You would then lead the witness into admitting that the only OFFICIAL way of refuting the DVLA allegation is in a court of law. You could therefore claim that you didn’t communicate because you risked revealing your defence before you needed to do so – that is your legal right.

Secondly, if they have had no / little communication from you then it is hard for them to know how you will respond to their allegations in the court room. In some cases people might not even show up and effectively the DVLA get a walkover. However the risk for the DVLA is the people who do show up and, more serious again, are the people who show up with a good defence. This takes the DVLA right out of their ‘comfort zone’ so to speak. Remember that, in the normal course of events, the DVLA acts like it has the power to decide who is guilty and who is innocent and also remember that the DVLA seems to like to decide which statute laws it can freely ignore when dealing with cases from the comfort of their own offices. This ALL changes when the matter comes to court – they now have to PROVE that you are guilty of the offence. The DVLA may say that, ‘All we have to do is look on our computer’ but that quite frankly will get laughed out of court if they approach the case from that angle. Once you present your evidence it will be hard for the DVLA to PROVE that you didn’t meet your obligations since there are just so many cases of the DVLA losing documents or not updating their registers correctly – you will in effect make the DVLA admit that they do indeed make mistakes.

Thirdly, the DVLA will have no idea how to direct their resources in terms of personnel who attend hearings and provide evidence. If they know in advance that your particular case is going to give them a problem then you give them a chance to send staff who may refute your evidence.

My advice is to simply send a letter which states that you refute the allegation which the DVLA is making against you. This shows them that you are getting the mail which they are sending you whilst at the same time making it clear that you will ‘fight them all the way’. Nothing else needs to be written.

Hope this helps,

Nehpets.

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That all makes perfect sense, Nehpets.

 

Would the following be a better letter?

 

Dear Mrs Woolley

 

I write with reference to your letter dated 19 June 2009 (copy attached).

 

As per my previous correspondence, I submitted the correct documentation to DVLA in April of 2008 and I have again provided you with correspondence confirming the sale of the vehicle and payment by the new owner, in my recent letter to you, which you have acknowledged receipt of.

 

I refute the allegation that DVLA are making, namely that the Department were not notified that I was no longer the keeper of the vehicle and request that you amend your records accordingly. I will rigorously defend any claims made by DVLA for a penalty charge to be levied.

 

Yours sincerely,

Sweeney Todd

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That all makes perfect sense, Nehpets.

 

Would the following be a better letter?

 

Dear Mrs Woolley

 

I write with reference to your letter dated 19 June 2009 (copy attached).

 

I refute the allegation that DVLA are making, namely that the Department were not notified that I was no longer the keeper of the vehicle and request that you amend your records accordingly. I will rigorously defend any claims made by DVLA for a penalty charge to be levied.

 

Yours sincerely,

Sweeney Todd

 

I think Nehpets is suggesting it should be as brief as shown above and include nothing that you intend bringing up as part of your defence in court.

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Sweeney Todd,

I would be more inclined to go with Crem’s letter although your own letter is also pretty good and, in my opinion, so much better than your first one.

In my own case I am not even entertaining any further communication with the DVLA – I’ve informed them by phone that I consider that I have committed no offence and I consider that the phone call is the end of the matter.

If I was you and wanted to write the letter then it would look something like this;

Dear Mrs Woolley,

I write with reference to your letter dated 19/6/09 (copy attached).

I have noted the contents of your letter. Unfortunately I am still refuting the allegations which the DVLA is making against me and therefore I am formally declining your offer of out of court settlement regarding this matter.

Regretfully I am unable to enter any further dialogue with the DVLA (or its agents) regarding this matter since it would not be in my best interest to do so.

Best wishes,

Mr S Todd.

In the letter I make no mention of my reasons for denying the charge neither do I mention any previous communications with them (let them ‘join the dots’ if they have the ability) The key with the letters which we have all suggested (in these last few posts) is that we have made it clear that WE are controlling the case and not the DVLA. Effectively you’re telling the DVLA to ‘put up or shut up’.

Nehpets.

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Thanks, guys.

 

I have compromised between the two letters and decided upon the following (primarily Nehpets letter) to send out this weekend.

 

Dear Mrs Woolley

 

 

I write with reference to your letter dated 19 June 2009 (copy attached)

 

 

I have noted the contents of your letter. Unfortunately, as per ,my previous correspondence which you have acknowledged receipt of, I am still refuting the allegations which the DVLA is making against me and, therefore, I am formally declining your offer of out of court settlement regarding this matter.

 

 

Regretfully, I am unable to enter any further dialogue with the DVLA (or it's agents) regarding this matter since it would not be in my best interest to do so.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

Sweeney Todd

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OK. Have now received the following:

 

Dear Sweeney Todd

Thank you for your response concerning the late licensing penalty imposed upon you for failing to relicense your vehicle as required. Your comments have been noted.

 

It has been a legal requirement since January 1998 that the registered keeper of a vehicle must ensure that it is, at all times, either currently licensed or that a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) is made. Under Continuous Registration (CR) introduced in January 2004, the registered keeper will remain responsible for re-licensing, or the declaration of SORN until DVLA has been formally notified of the vehicle's transfer, destruction, export or theft and they have a receipt from DVLA acknowledging their disposal notification.

 

In your case a disposal notification for this vehicle was not received at DVLA and therefore the vehicle remained registered in your name. The requirement to notify disposal of a vehicle is contained within Regulation 22-24 of the Road vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002.

 

The Agency issues an acknowledgement letter on receipt of disposal notifications and SORN declarations. Information on disposal of a vehicle is available on the Vehicle registration Certificate (V5C). If a keeper cannor provide a copy of a valid acknowledgement letter issued by DVLA for a SORN or disposal notice, dated prior to 12/05/09 he/she has no defence against the enforcement action. An acknowledgement letter issued after the commencement of enforcement proceedings would not be accepted as mitigation.

 

The mitigation you submitted is noted, but does not materially alter the outcome of your case of constitute a defence. Consequently, you are still liable for the £80. As you are declining to make this payment, your case is being referred to a debt collection agency for further action.

 

Yours sincerely,

Mrs C Haynes

Enforcement Officer

 

Anyone got some advice on what I should do, say or what my rights are, as I have no doubt that a DCA will be contacting me.

 

Incidently, I received a disposal acknowledgement letter today (dated 2 July 09), on the back of my correspondence, which actually states 'You may want to keep this letter for your records'.

 

Any help gratefully received.

Edited by Sweeney Todd

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Because you are in dispute it is unlawful for this to passed to DCA. They are not allowed to do it. If they do and when they do you can then report them.

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If you are contacted by a DCA tell them that you dispute any liability and demand they return the matter to their client.

 

I find it interesting that in their letter they have the arrogance to claim the ability to make a decision to what constitutes a defence. That would be a decision for a Court to make.

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I find it interesting that in their letter they have the arrogance to claim the ability to make a decision to what constitutes a defence. That would be a decision for a Court to make.

I knew their letter made me angry I just couldn't figure out exactly what it was that set off the triggers but, yeah, that is it. The fact that they are trying to reference themselves as plaintiff, judge and jury.

 

So, assuming DCA write to me first, should I reply by letter saying that I am disputing liability and insisting that they return the matter to DVLA, or should I just ignore them?

 

Also? Should I not write to DVLA and state that as the liability is disputed, then they are not in a position to refer the matter to a DCA?

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So, assuming DCA write to me first, should I reply by letter saying that I am disputing liability and insisting that they return the matter to DVLA, or should I just ignore them?

 

Also? Should I not write to DVLA and state that as the liability is disputed, then they are not in a position to refer the matter to a DCA?

 

I would do both.

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In my opinion the Enforcement Officer’s letter to you may constitute unsolicited and unqualified legal advice. You should now make a formal complaint on that matter. At no point (in the letter) does the Enforcement Officer clarify that she is not legally qualified to give out such legal advice. At no point does she state that the letter is merely her own opinions (even if those opinions are simply reflecting DVLA policy on the matter). In my opinion this is done with one purpose in mind – to try and intimidate you.

 

Secondly I would suggest that certain parts of the advice which she provides to you may be factually incorrect. There is obviously a possibility that this is done deliberately in order to mislead you over your legal rights. In the second part of the second paragraph Mrs C Haynes states the following;

 

Under Continuous Registration (CR) introduced in January 2004, the registered keeper will remain responsible for re-licensing, or the declaration of SORN until DVLA has been formally notified of the vehicle's transfer, destruction, export or theft and they have a receipt from DVLA acknowledging their disposal notification.”

 

Mrs C Haynes appears to have added her own piece of legislation to the Road Vehicles (Registration And Licensing) Regulations of 2002!! The sentence I refer to is that final part of paragraph two;

 

“and they have a receipt from DVLA acknowledging their disposal notification.”

 

The legislation, so far as I can find, does not state that you must obtain “a receipt” from the DVLA after you notify them. Instead the legislation to which Mrs Haynes refers appears to state only that you must “notify” them when the vehicle in question has been disposed of. The addition of the extra line of text appears to be deliberately misleading and indeed potentially pivotal in this case.

 

The Road Vehicles (Registration And Licensing) Regulations of 2002 can be found here;

 

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2002/20022742.htm

 

Scroll down to sections 20 thru 24.

 

 

Ultimately, if we are correct on this matter, the Enforcement Officer appears to be committing fraud. The DVLA are seemingly adding to the regulations in order to create a perception in the defendants mind that they are guilty of the offence and therefore risk the matter being escalated. This is done in an attempt to make the accused pay the £80 out of court settlement.

 

You should keep hold of this letter in case they do decide to take the matter to court.

 

In the meantime I would not enter any further dialogue with the DVLA or the DCA over this matter. If the matter does get passed to a DCA then make a further complaint on the matter (but don’t mention your defence). These are acts of desperation on the part of the DVLA. If the last letter you sent the DVLA was as you set out on this thread then they cannot pass the matter to a DCA anyway. Technically it is not a debt. The DCA cannot pursue you because of your refusal to accept the DVLA’s offer of an out of court settlement. Since you have clearly stated that the out of court settlement has been declined no debt exists – the debt would only come into being at the moment you accepted their offer of settlement.

 

If you really wanted to get you own back then you could write to Mrs C Haynes and request that she makes known to you her legal qualifications which entitle her to give out the legal advice. I’m fairly sure that in the eyes of the law she cannot offset liability on this matter to her employer (in just the same way that you cannot avoid points on your licence if you get caught speeding in your employers car or van). That makes her responsible for her actions.

 

 

Nehpets.

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Interesting post nehpets

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It is, indeed, an interesting post and as you suggest, it is probably best to ignore, although the over-riding temptation is fire back a retort.

 

I will now sit back and wait for the DCA letter to come through and will let you know what it says.

 

Thanks again.

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Sweeney Todd,

 

You’ve actually left the DVLA in quite an awkward situation. Although the Enforcement Officer has stated that the matter will be passed to a debt collection agent one imagines that the DVLA would have a series of procedures which it has to go through before that action can occur. In her haste to intimidate you she has failed to consider the statements you made in your last letter to the DVLA. In that letter you have stated that;

 

A ) You are formally declining their offer of an out of court settlement

 

And

 

B ) You are refuting all allegations which the DVLA has made against you.

 

Therefore, if they have any level of competence, the DVLA will realise that you shut the DCA route off to them. Of course that assumes that the people at the DVLA do their jobs properly! Of course it is entirely possible that the DVLA will DELIBERATELY overlook these points so their DCA henchmen can further intimidate you. This obviously raises a question as to DVLA ethics – are the DVLA actually using the DCA’s for more than simple debt collecting? If the DVLA continually send cases to the DCA’s AFTER defendants have refuted allegations or declined out of court settlement offers then they would be acting wrongly and the DVLA would / should be aware of this.

 

In her letter the Enforcement Officer specifies various things regarding what she feels is an in adequate defence – as others have stated she doesn’t actually have the legal power to make that judgement and that aspect of the matter can only be sorted by a court. Since the DVLA is purely the plaintiff in this matter they cannot make decisions over which cases get passed to DCA’s based on whether they feel that the defendant has a valid defence or not – put simply, if the defendant refutes the allegation then the matter should not be passed to a DCA.

 

ST, I share your anger of this matter. My guess is that the DVLA will pass the matter to a DCA regardless of the fact that you have clearly refuted the allegations made. In my opinion this method is used because there is no other option available to them apart from direct court action. Given that court action seems to be a road which they are unwilling to venture down they have little choice but to ignore certain rules and chance their arm with a DCA approach.

 

Personally I’ve had no further contact from the DCA since I told the DVLA that I was refuting their allegations. Like you say, we’ll wait and see what their next move is.

 

 

Nehpets.

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The offer to pay is not an out of court settlement. They payment you have been asked to make is for a debt/penalty and if heard in Court will be a County Court not Magistrates.

 

Did you ask for your case to be heard at Court? If not maybe you should - but thats only if you want to take that risk as the DJ may come down on your side or may not.

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Unless it has changed since the DVLA requested an interview with me a few weeks ago Mrs Alison Woolley is the head of Customer and Compliance while Mr Steve Alexander is in charge of enforcement and your letter should be addressed to him personally.

 

It is unlikely that there are two Mrs Woolleys a P and an A, high enough up to sign letters. Your case will be handled by an assistant and only the signature comes from the named person.

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