Jump to content


Court Summons - failure to pay rail fare help needed!


style="text-align: center;">  

Thread Locked

because no one has posted on it for the last 3823 days.

If you need to add something to this thread then

 

Please click the "Report " link

 

at the bottom of one of the posts.

 

If you want to post a new story then

Please

Start your own new thread

That way you will attract more attention to your story and get more visitors and more help 

 

Thanks

Recommended Posts

Hi guys,

 

I'm in some need of help at the moment, and as I have been ringing around solicitors they are not willing to

give me any advice due to the cost of this case.

 

I have been summonsed to court following a failure to pay for a rail fare. Let me give you some brief details regarding this.

 

22nd March, I was running late for work and as I approached the ticket machine it was not working properly and only taking card payments and I had cash. As a result of this, the queue to the ticket window was longer than normal and so I spotted a member of staff and asked him if I could get on the train and pay for a ticket there. He said yes, the conductor will come down the carriage. So i stood at one end of the train to wait for the conductor but he never came. Finally as I got off the train, I saw someone who appeared to be another member of staff, who I then approached to ask where I can purchase a ticket from, who then pulled me to one side and questioned me after caution.

 

Eventually, after finding out where I can purchase a ticket, I did eventually pay for my train fare for that day at a cost of £2.00

 

After several letters back and forth, I have received a summons saying that I failed to pay my correct fare of £2.00 therefore:

 

Contravening Bye law 18 (1)

 

Now there is also the inspectors statement and some of this I find contradicting and incorrect. One of the questions asked is if i had not been pulled to one side, would i have avoided payment for the fare. and it says that my response is that, "probably yes, if i knew where the ticket office or machine was I would pay for one". If i recall I do not remember saying yes, I said no and that sentence to me seems to contradict itself which makes no sense at all.

 

Now, my argument is, under Bye law 18 (3) iii. It does say that no person shall be in breach of (1) or (2) if they are authorised to travel on the train without a valid ticket. To me, asking a member of staff to board the train without one in order for me to pay sure comes under this? Can I use this as a defence? clearly by asking someone if I can board and waiting at one end of the train so the conductor can clearly see me and again after getting off the train approaching another member shows that I did not intend to avoid payment. I also paid for my ticket for that day and sent them to the company which I also kept a photocopy of again showing that I did not intend to avoid payment.

 

What are my options? Do I try and settle out of court, or stick to my guns and go with it - although bear in mind I am a law student and therefore I do not want this to affect me becoming a solicitor.

 

Any advice would be great

 

Cheers

Link to post
Share on other sites

yep write a grovelling letter as per the other threads here

 

dont waffle or cloud the issue

 

offer to pay all resonable costs etc etc

 

you should be fine, but everycase is diff

 

do some reading in this forum

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello there. I expect the guys will be along later with further advice for you, as and when their day jobs permit. They will advise whether mentioning you're a law student is a good idea or not, because it could cause someone bloody-minded at the TOC to want to make an example of you. Also, you say you were working on the day; are you studying part-time?

 

You may find that it's your responsiblity to seek out a conductor on the train and offer payment, regardless of what the member of staff told you.

 

As dx says, you may need to write a grovelling letter regardless of how you feel about this.

 

Hopefully, you will receive other advice soon.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies, I suppose if I have to write a grovelling letter then I may have to do that

 

@honeybee13 - What I meant in terms of being a law student is, If i do fight this at court and end up being convicted, is it likely to impact me on becoming a solicitor.

I will not write to them saying I am a law student.

 

I think part of the problem being is that I rarely used trains at the time until i started my job, and so I wouldn't know where to seek out the conductor.

I study full time and started a job that offered suitable hours in the evening.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello again. Please don't take my word as gospel on the law student thing, we have people here who know far more about TOC rules than I do. Please leave it a bit longer and see if they can help you with your draft letter.

 

Of course, as dx said, there are plenty of similar threads for you to read while you're waiting.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree with sending a grovelling letter & paying costs, you have correctly identified the defence to the charge (18/iii).

Go to the station, find the employee & ask them to write a short note confirming they gave you authority to travel, if they decline to do so, obtain their name or identifying staff number. Inform the prosecution that you have the note/ID.

If they still intend to go to court tell them you require that person to attend court & give evidence at the subsequent trial.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The only issue i have with finding the member of staff is that i cannot remember what he looked like, it was over 2 months ago and i think i may have issues on that side.

 

Its funny because my previous letter to them had not been responded to and so i sent a letter a couple days back saying that it has been over 4 weeks since the letter was sent and received no reply and is the case closed. Now im sitting with a summons in front of me.

 

there is a number on the summons for the prosecution department, is it worth giving a call and speaking to the person direct and negotiating from there And if so ... what do i say?

Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as I can see as I walked through the station, there doesnt seem to be any CCTV in the main area, unless they are hidden away somewhere and my eyes are deceiving me

 

I would like to keep this out of court as I wouldn't like any criminal record at all.

Is there a way to write a letter of some sort in order to persuade them to keep this

out of court?

Edited by Slobrob
Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as I can see as I walked through the station, there doesnt seem to be any CCTV in the main area, unless they are hidden away somewhere and my eyes are deceiving me

 

I would like to keep this out of court as I wouldn't like any criminal record at all.

Is there a way to write a letter of some sort in order to persuade them to keep this

out of court?

 

I must say that I am surprised at your attitude, if I was wrongly accused of a crime I would move heaven & earth to prove my case.

However, if you want to avoid court then you should write the usual grovelling letter & offer to pay all their costs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I think it's more of the thought of being convicted, and seems to me like its going to be an uphill struggle in trying to convince the judge as well as the fact as getting anyone to actually represent me.

 

In respect of making a letter, what would I need to include?

Edited by Slobrob
Link to post
Share on other sites

as you know the date of travel

it should be easy for them to check the ticket machine was not accepting cash.

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

Link to post
Share on other sites

You would think that .. just out of curiosity if i plead not guilty and then found guilty of this offence does anyone have an idea of what i am likely to expect given that i have no other convictions

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you were to plead not guilty to the charge as summonsed, the case will be adjourned to trial when you will have to attend.

 

The Rail Company will present their case, the reporting inspector and any other witnesses that may be called by the company will give evidence and you will be given the opportunity to cross examine them. You will then have your opportunity to put your case and call any witnesses that you have. This includes presenting the note from the member of staff that you say gave you permission to board without a ticket if you can obtain it. Following your presentation the Rail Company prosecutor will be permitted to cross examine you.

 

If you are found guilty the maximum penalty may be a fine of up to a maximum of £1000 and if you are charged with intent to avoid a fare contrary to Section 5 of The Regulation of Railways Act (1889) a Court can ultimately consider a custodial sentence. You should not panic over that, it is simply an explanation of fact.

 

In practice, if you are convicted of a first offence the Magistrates will normally consider a fine in the order of £350 and may order you to pay the prosecution costs, compensation of the fare and a £15 victim surcharge.

 

If you are charged with the strict liability offence of breach of Byelaw 18 then the guideline fine for conviction on a first offence is on the same scale, but will normally be a little less because there is no requirement for the prosecution to prove intent.

 

If you can show that you were given authority to board the train without a valid ticket then there should be no case to answer unless there are factors that we have not been told.

 

If you genuinely believe that you have done nothing wrong, you should not plead guilty for expediency. For example, if you were charged with 'intent to avoid a fare' and plead guilty, but say for example 'I plead guilty to not having a ticket but didn't mean not to pay', the Magistrates will be forced to consider that to be equivocal and will not accept a guilty plea.

 

You may wish to write to the prosecution office with an apology and ask if you may be allowed to pay the outstanding fare and all the reasonable costs incurred by the company in order to preserve your good name by resolving this without court action. The Rail Company is not obliged to agree, but if they do it does remove the likelihood of a conviction and court record.

 

You don't say which station that you travelled from, but these days they are all covered by CCTV and staff levels are pretty minimal on all shifts, so if you know the approximate time that you were at the station, the day and date, it is very easy to show who was on duty.

 

Self-service ticket machines are computer monitored for availability and the records will show when any machine was out of order and the same applies to staffed booking offices.

 

It is a matter for you, but as SRPO said, you have correctly identified a defence to the breach of Byelaw 18.1 or 18.2 charges if you were given permission. It seems that you will need to be able to convince the court that was the case and the most certain way of doing that is identification of the member of staff concerned and the note confirming your claim.

 

Hope that helps

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that Old-CodJA,

 

Train station in question is Sheffield

 

I understand the self-service machines are monitored, as the machine accepted both card and cash payments, the yellow light flashing indicated it was only accepting card payments only. Will the records show this?

 

In relation to CCTV, my concern is that I have been informed that the likelihood of them having the recording 2 months ago is unlikely, as they tend to only keep the recording for only a month or so and there's nothing in the summons the prosecution will provide evidence of CCTV. This leaves the issue with trying to obtain a note from the member of staff I asked before boarding the train, even if I can find out who I did speak to I feel there is a slim chance of me gaining one either as he could say he does not remember me or another excuse and I didn't think of getting a note from him at the time as I clearly never expected me to be in this position I am in right now.

 

What I am trying to work out is the kind of questions or objections that the prosecution are likely to come up with in trying to convict me.

 

Is there anything that may go in my favour? For example, can i explain the fact that I never avoided the allegation made and that I had entered correspondence with them, as I had not heard back from them in over 4 weeks regarding the charges and costs they wanted me to pay which i replied disputing, I decided to do the honest thing and send a further letter asking whether or not my case was closed only to end up with a summons a day later - I would have expected at least one more letter from them explaining that if I didn't pay I would be summonsed to court.

 

Again, the fact that I approached the person who I now know to be a revenue inspector offering to pay and asking where I can buy one at the earliest opportunity but she wasn't co-operative and only intent on questioning me and getting the answers she needed.

 

In addition, I did eventually pay for my ticket for that day after I had finished work as I was already running 15 mins late of my first day I went to work and once finished, acting in honesty I purchased a ticket for the day, I could have simply went home and not paid for the ticket at all.

 

Is the Judge going to take into consideration regarding the break down of correspondence from the prosecution and a not so co-operative inspector?

 

The only evidence presented on the summons is the statement from the inspector, If I plead not guilty and court is adjourned for trial at a later date, is further evidence allowed to be submitted?

Edited by Slobrob
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

1. Train station in question is Sheffield

 

2. Can i explain the fact that I never avoided the allegation made and that I had entered correspondence with them, as I had not heard back from them in over 4 weeks regarding the charges and costs they wanted me to pay which i replied disputing, I decided to do the honest thing and send a further letter asking whether or not my case was closed only to end up with a summons a day later

 

3. I would have expected at least one more letter from them explaining that if I didn't pay I would be summonsed to court.

 

4. Again, the fact that I approached the person who I now know to be a revenue inspector offering to pay and asking where I can buy one at the earliest opportunity but she wasn't co-operative and only intent on questioning me and getting the answers she needed.

 

5. In addition, I did eventually pay for my ticket for that day after I had finished work as I was already running 15 mins late of my first day I went to work and once finished, acting in honesty I purchased a ticket for the day, I could have simply went home and not paid for the ticket at all.

 

6. Is the Judge going to take into consideration regarding the break down of correspondence from the prosecution and a not so co-operative inspector?

 

7. The only evidence presented on the summons is the statement from the inspector, If I plead not guilty and court is adjourned for trial at a later date, is further evidence allowed to be submitted?

 

 

Taking your points in order:

 

1. Sheffield is a very big station. There are at least 10 booking office windows and ticket machines at both entrances. You might struggle to convince a court that there wasn't an opportunity to pay before travelling, because the rail company are likely to say that all the machines were not failing to accept payment at the same time and the number of windows available mean that queues are not very long. I'm not saying there wasn't a queue, but you have asked what you might be asked to counter. This is where proving your claim that you were given permission is so important.

 

2. From what you say it seems the company may have sent you a notice of an unpaid fare and it probably said administration charges had been added?

 

3. It may seem harsh, but factually, they don't have to write giving a chance to pay the fare at all. If the rail company believe that they have enough evidence to prove an offence they could just issue a summons.

 

4. A lot depends on where this took place. If it was at the exit from trains at your destination, it is possible that the staff were conducting a station exit revenue check and if so, they will probably be able to show that an opportunity to pay the fare was available to you before that point. If not, their case wouldn't seem to be so strong.

 

5. Buying the ticket later doesn't make any difference to any charge the rail company might allege.

a) If they have claimed you breached a Byelaw, the offence is strict liability, they are saying you failed to comply with the rule at the time of travel.

b) If the summons says 'intent to avoid a fare', the Act says 'If any person travels, or attempts to travel on a railway without having previously paid his fare...' and so purchasing a ticket after being reported does not cancel the charge.

 

6. It doesn't alter the charge. The court will only be concerned with whether or not the rail company can show that you are guilty of the offence that they allege. If you can show evidence that the inspector has lied, or acted maliciously in any way, that would be important, but there does need to be evidence, not just an opinion that you and he/she disagreed.

 

7. If you plead not guilty and the case is adjourned to trial, the court will ask how many witnesses the rail company will produce and how many you might call. It may be that they will rely on just the inspector's statement, but they may also call witnesses to confirm that the booking office was open, the status of machines etc.

 

Please bear in mind that the foregoing is only my opinion based on what you have told us thus far, but I hope it has helped.

 

.

Edited by Old-CodJA
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that, it seems that I do have an uphill struggle in terms of proving my innocence without obtaining a note from the member of staff before I boarded the train, as I said I was acting on the information from that member of staff that I was able to board the train and so I wasn't expecting myself to be in this position otherwise I would have made sure to have some form of statement from him allowing me permission.

 

1. I agree Sheffield is a big station and yes there is about 10 booking windows but that does not mean to say that all 10 booking windows are open at the same time. Surely, one cannot expect to wait in a queue for more than a reasonable time and result in missing the train they need to catch? Also, there must be some sort of service level agreement as to serving customers at the ticket window?

 

3. Yes I believe so, I was seeking some initial advice and was told that the charges put to me were high and therefore should explain this and offer something a bit less. I also included in the responding letter re-iterating what I had said in the first letter and also mentioning Byelaw 18(3) and so that I feel I am in no breach of conditions. I then never heard anything back for over 4 weeks and seemed to me that had I not sent a further letter, I could have possibly got away with it?

 

Regarding point 4, my destination was to meadowhall and I am not sure if you are aware of the layout but the inspector was standing at the platform of the train that I was getting off. I have found out that there is a small ticket office towards meadowhall on the bridge however it is somewhere I could not reach without bypassing the inspector so there was not a way for me to pay for this fare prior to approaching the inspector, although I did not know this at the time hence asking the inspector at the first opportunity.

 

All in all, this is looking fairly grim for me unless I can manage to get a note from the member of staff who said I could board the train and I don't know any way in order to do this, unless you have any suggestions?

Edited by Slobrob
Link to post
Share on other sites

There are 'service level' which train operators should stick to, no doubt a cleverer man than I can look up queuing standards for Sheffield, but 'reasonableness' tests with a strict liability Byelaw are odd.

 

The requirement is simple. If there is an opportunity to get a ticket, then the passenger simply must have a ticket before travel. If there were exceptional queues, then the train operator will notify 'other stations' that some travellers have been allowed on without tickets. Having been to Sheffield, I doubt that such a situation arises, unlike a station such as Tilbury, normally handling less passengers than the two windows and two self service machines can cope with, which every so often will get a whole cruise ship load of non English speaking tourists.

 

Instinct suggests that unless you can obtain a statement from a member of rail staff who authorised your ticketless travel, your version wouldbe seen as 'not credible'.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As regards what questions the rail prosecutor will ask, if the charge is Byelaw 18, then there are very few questions likley. The evidence comes from 'the Inspector', you will, before any Court hearing, have a copy of the Inspector's statement.

 

In a trial, the 'prosecution' evidence is presented first, you (or your lawyer) can then cross examine the witness. the most important questions would seem to relate to what happened at Sheffield. It is quite likely that the Inspector will come armed with various types of reports, which will show whether the ticket office machines were in use, and how many tickets were being issued around the time that you boarded a train. It is also probable that the witness will know what the 'schedule 17' requirements are at Sheffield. These are the requirements for what services shall be provided at the station in terms of ticket office opening hours. There are some strange technicalities, most of which are 'not relevant' in this case, for example, if all ten windows were open, more than 5 must be able to sell 'all types' of tickets, whilst less than 5 can sell just local products, interesting perhaps, but as you were only needing a simple ticket, the only issue is 'were any of them open'.

 

After the 'prosecution evidence', the defence, that is you, can give your evidence from the witness box. You can then be examined by the prosecutor, and also by 'the Court'. Their questions will depend on what you say in your 'evidence'.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is little that I can add to Wriggler7's excellent summary except to say that your comment about Meadowhall overlooks the fact that when boarding the train without a ticket, your immediate responsibility was to find someone to pay. That means, seek out the guard, or conductor / train manager, declare your journey and pay the fare.

 

I am familiar with Meadowhall, from memory I believe that most trains from Sheffield arrive on the Tyler Street side of the station and the booking office & main entrance are at the Meadowhall Road side of the station with a walkway across and above the platforms.

 

In my past experience, ticket checks at the exit from trains at Meadowhall are usually carried out at the exits from platforms 3 & 4 which have access directly out into Tyler Street and this is done to check that all travellers have paid their fare before leaving the station.

 

.

Edited by Old-CodJA
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, well I think I have heard enough to realise that it is not worth pursuing and although I believe I am innocent this is going to be too hard to prove in court.

Now my only step is to try and write a letter and see if the prosecution department are willing to settle out of court

 

If I am convicted I am seriously worried this could land me in trouble with the SRA in the future and I do not want this to happen. Any suggestions as to what I should write and try and persuade them in settling out of court?

 

Thanks

Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there anything that may go in my favour? For example, can i explain the fact that I never avoided the allegation made and that I had entered correspondence with them, as I had not heard back from them in over 4 weeks regarding the charges and costs they wanted me to pay which i replied disputing, I decided to do the honest thing and send a further letter asking whether or not my case was closed only to end up with a summons a day later - I would have expected at least one more letter from them explaining that if I didn't pay I would be summonsed to court.

 

Unless I have read your post wrongly, it seems that the rail company have already given you an option of settling out of court, but you seem to have turned it down.

 

What you now have to do is persuade them to reinstate that opportunity, but don't be surprised if they say that their costs have increased as a result of extended correspondence especially seeing that they now appear to have done the prosecution preparation and issued a summons.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I didn't turn it down I just offered to pay a lesser amount that I thought was reasonable. I wasn't denying out-right to pay any charges at all.

However, now that I know that this will affect my future career, I am going to have to settle for paying a higher amount than I anticipated if this is the case, but I am unsure as to how I put this in writing

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I didn't turn it down I just offered to pay a lesser amount that I thought was reasonable. I wasn't denying out-right to pay any charges at all.

However, now that I know that this will affect my future career, I am going to have to settle for paying a higher amount than I anticipated if this is the case, but I am unsure as to how I put this in writing

 

Ring them up as a matter of urgency & ask to pay the settlement, the longer you wait the more chance of them changing their minds.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Called up this morning, offered to settle out of court to to which they agreed to - took card details receipt will be sent out total costs £87 which was less than I expected but nevertheless it is a result. She did say however that she would keep my name on file for 7 years in accordance with the law, although didn't say why.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 Caggers

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Have we helped you ...?


×
×
  • Create New...