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SteveWTW

Rail company is threatening to prosecute in magistrates court - anyone recommend a good solicitor?

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Hi

 

South West trains are threatening to take me to magistrates court for fare evasion and I'd like to hire the best solicitor possible who specialises in these types of cases. Does such a thing exist? Does anyone have any recommendations?

 

Any help appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

Steve

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no need

 

tell us about the incident.

 

dx


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Byelaw (strict liability) offence? (Byelaw 17 or 18?)

Intent to avoid a fare (s5.3a RRA 1889)?

 

CAG rules preclude advising on any particular solicitor, and as one poster has already alluded to : the details will help determine if a solicitor could help make a difference : what happened, what are you summonsed for, and what outcome are you aiming for?

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Without knowing the circumstances a solicitor will end up costing a lot more than paying the fare as ordered by any court. Unless of course you are completely innocent but the inspector is a thicko bighead who thinks he knows everything.

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Hi

 

South West trains are threatening to take me to magistrates court for fare evasion and I'd like to hire the best solicitor possible who specialises in these types of cases. Does such a thing exist? Does anyone have any recommendations?

 

Any help appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

Steve

 

As I understand it, the policy of CAG is not to recommend any particular commercial enterprise. A google search for 'Rail fare evasion solicitor' will give you the answer you seek, but do be prepared to spend a hell of a lot more than is usually necessary with no guarantee that you will avoid a conviction.

 

As others have said, provide aclear and honest explanation of what happened and what you have actually been charged with may well result in you getting a lot of useful suggestion from people on here with much experience of this kind of work.

 

( and free of charge too. )

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Ok, the following are the key facts about my situation

 

1) I mistakenly sat on a first class seat on a packed London commuter train with a standard oyster card ticket which was valid for the journey in standard class. I made a genuine error in sitting in the seat.

 

2) I was asked for my first class ticket by a South West Trains Revenue Protection Officer. I said I didn’t realise I was in first class and I apologised that I didn’t have a first class ticket. I handed him my annual rail pass (purchased in Jan 2013 for £1950 for Southern trains and not valid for that journey) and my oyster card valid in standard class for that journey. He confirmed that the oyster card was valid.

 

3) He didn’t caution me about my rights (under the PACE regulations, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, I understand that he is required to do so). My understanding is that he must follow the PACE regulations if he believes that that I may have committed a criminal offence and if his evidence (eg my answers to his questions) is to be admissible in court (Note that I am being prosecuted under criminal law, not a bye-law). However, he asked me a series of questions (why are you in first class? do you have the means to pay? what is your name and address? What is your date of birth?). I answered honestly and co-operated throughout.

 

4) He then confiscated both tickets. When I asked, he refused to tell me why he was allowed to take them and the procedure for getting them back. He simply said ‘I am allowed to do so. You may or may not hear from us.’ I asked him why he was taking my season ticket - he simply said that he was allowed to do so. I understand that he is allowed to confiscate tickets as evidence but I don’t know if there is a procedure that he must follow when he does this.

 

5) He issued me with a slip of paper headed British Rail (with the British Rail logo) and titled “Excess/Travel Ticket” as a receipt for the ticket withdrawal. British Rail ceased to be a legal entity in 2000. It did not include the date; the time; his name or number; my name or any of my details; the season ticket card details; or the reason for the withdrawal. It simply says: withdrawn - oyster card (with number) and season ticket; the train route number’. The boxes don’t even correspond to the information filled in.

 

6) He wrote out on his notepad my physical description and he asked me to sign against this if I wished to, which I did. I understand that, under the PACE regulations, he is obliged to record everything in Q&A format, read the statement through with me, ask me to sign, inform me that the facts will be recorded and that I may be prosecuted and ask me again “do you understand?”. He did none of this.

 

7) I have been told by the SWT Prosecutions Dept that I will receive a court summons to the Magistrates Court. I phoned the Senior Prosecutions Officer at SWT. He read a verbatim statement (I presume from the ticket inspector) of what happened which I had never been shown at the time and which I did not sign and some of the facts of which I do not agree with.

 

I'm taking this very seriously and am preparing a strong a defence as possible. Hence the request for a good solicitor.

 

Thanks in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide.

 

Steve

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the taking of the season ticket seems not correct

 

as for being infirst class etc etc

 

there are numerous threads on here regarding the same.

 

letter time me thinks.

 

p'haps OJ will comment on the ticket part

never heard of that.

 

dx


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He didn’t caution me about my rights (under the PACE regulations, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, I understand that he is required to do so). My understanding is that he must follow the PACE regulations if he believes that that I may have committed a criminal offence and if his evidence (eg my answers to his questions) is to be admissible in court (Note that I am being prosecuted under criminal law, not a bye-law). However, he asked me a series of questions (why are you in first class? do you have the means to pay? what is your name and address? What is your date of birth?). I answered honestly and co-operated throughout.

 

 

It is not always necessary to caution a suspect in order to bring a prosecution. (examples: Fail to pay penalty fare, fail to pay parking charge, speeding offences etc.)

 

From reading through your post it does not appear that you have yet received a Summons, so what basis do you have for determining what legislation you are being prosecuted under?

 

A Byelaw offence is prosecuted in a criminal Court, but conviction is not recordable.

 

 

He then confiscated both tickets. When I asked, he refused to tell me why he was allowed to take them and the procedure for getting them back. He simply said ‘I am allowed to do so. You may or may not hear from us.’ I asked him why he was taking my season ticket - he simply said that he was allowed to do so. I understand that he is allowed to confiscate tickets as evidence but I don’t know if there is a procedure that he must follow when he does this.

 

 

All tickets remain the property of the rail company at all times and in cases where a traveller is found to be 'misusing' a season ticket it should be withdrawn and submitted with the inspector's report. It appears from your post that the inspector followed procedure by issuing a receipt for the ticket he had withdrawn

 

 

He issued me with a slip of paper headed British Rail (with the British Rail logo) and titled “Excess/Travel Ticket” as a receipt for the ticket withdrawal. British Rail ceased to be a legal entity in 2000. It did not include the date; the time; his name or number; my name or any of my details; the season ticket card details; or the reason for the withdrawal. It simply says: withdrawn - oyster card (with number) and season ticket; the train route number’. The boxes don’t even correspond to the information filled in.

 

 

There is no legal reason why a BR 4407 Pad cannot be used in this way so far as I am aware, though it does seem a little old-fashioned. The National Rail logo is still in use today and although British Rail ceased to exist as the national rail trading name in 1997 its remaining functions are now invested in BRB (Residuary) Ltd.

 

It appears that the relevant details are recorded on it to make it a receipt for the ticket withdrawn

 

 

He wrote out on his notepad my physical description and he asked me to sign against this if I wished to, which I did. I understand that, under the PACE regulations, he is obliged to record everything in Q&A format, read the statement through with me, ask me to sign, inform me that the facts will be recorded and that I may be prosecuted and ask me again “do you understand?”. He did none of this.

 

 

If you were not interviewed under caution, as your opening paragraph makes clear, the P.A.C.E (84) Codes of Practice are not relevant.

 

 

I have been told by the SWT Prosecutions Dept that I will receive a court summons to the Magistrates Court. I phoned the Senior Prosecutions Officer at SWT. He read a verbatim statement (I presume from the ticket inspector) of what happened which I had never been shown at the time and which I did not sign and some of the facts of which I do not agree with.

 

 

What charge were you told you will be summonsed to answer?

 

If it is that you did travel in a First Class carriage without holding a First Class ticket contrary to National Railway Byelaw 19 [2005] that is a strict liability matter

 

The statement is the statement of the inspector, compiled from his contemporaneous notes. It seems that he gave you an opportunity to sign the notes he had made, which is permissible whether under caution or not and secures a copy of your signature, which might be used to show that you were the person that he spoke to.

 

You could not be asked to sign his statement if you were not interviewed under caution and no statement taken from you.

 

 

You can say that you do not agree the statement is a true account of what happened, but will have to make clear what parts you are challenging and why you suggest that your version of events discredits the inspector's evidence.

 

If the TOC do not accept this I can see the matter going to trial unless you can achieve an alternative resolution.

 

If you have already received a letter from SWT and have the relevant case reference allocated to this incident, this is a case where it might be appropriate to write to the TOC and ask whether the matter may be resolved by administrative process rather than a summons to Court.

Edited by Old-CodJA

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Ok, the following are the key facts about my situation

 

1) I mistakenly sat on a first class seat on a packed London commuter train with a standard oyster card ticket which was valid for the journey in standard class. I made a genuine error in sitting in the seat.

 

2) I was asked for my first class ticket by a South West Trains Revenue Protection Officer. I said I didn’t realise I was in first class and I apologised that I didn’t have a first class ticket. I handed him my annual rail pass (purchased in Jan 2013 for £1950 for Southern trains and not valid for that journey) and my oyster card valid in standard class for that journey. He confirmed that the oyster card was valid.

 

3) He didn’t caution me about my rights (under the PACE regulations, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, I understand that he is required to do so). My understanding is that he must follow the PACE regulations if he believes that that I may have committed a criminal offence and if his evidence (eg my answers to his questions) is to be admissible in court (Note that I am being prosecuted under criminal law, not a bye-law). However, he asked me a series of questions (why are you in first class? do you have the means to pay? what is your name and address? What is your date of birth?). I answered honestly and co-operated throughout.

 

4) He then confiscated both tickets. When I asked, he refused to tell me why he was allowed to take them and the procedure for getting them back. He simply said ‘I am allowed to do so. You may or may not hear from us.’ I asked him why he was taking my season ticket - he simply said that he was allowed to do so. I understand that he is allowed to confiscate tickets as evidence but I don’t know if there is a procedure that he must follow when he does this.

 

5) He issued me with a slip of paper headed British Rail (with the British Rail logo) and titled “Excess/Travel Ticket” as a receipt for the ticket withdrawal. British Rail ceased to be a legal entity in 2000. It did not include the date; the time; his name or number; my name or any of my details; the season ticket card details; or the reason for the withdrawal. It simply says: withdrawn - oyster card (with number) and season ticket; the train route number’. The boxes don’t even correspond to the information filled in.

 

6) He wrote out on his notepad my physical description and he asked me to sign against this if I wished to, which I did. I understand that, under the PACE regulations, he is obliged to record everything in Q&A format, read the statement through with me, ask me to sign, inform me that the facts will be recorded and that I may be prosecuted and ask me again “do you understand?”. He did none of this.

 

7) I have been told by the SWT Prosecutions Dept that I will receive a court summons to the Magistrates Court. I phoned the Senior Prosecutions Officer at SWT. He read a verbatim statement (I presume from the ticket inspector) of what happened which I had never been shown at the time and which I did not sign and some of the facts of which I do not agree with.

 

I'm taking this very seriously and am preparing a strong a defence as possible. Hence the request for a good solicitor.

 

Thanks in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide.

 

Steve

 

Hi Steve, how did this case get resolved?

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As I've said before, this is all about profit and no different to parking tickets.

 

 

All tickets remain the property of the rail company at all times and in cases where a traveller is found to be 'misusing' a season ticket it should be withdrawn and submitted with the inspector's report. It appears from your post that the inspector followed procedure by issuing a receipt for the ticket he had withdrawn
Anyone in the wrong section etc should be first off, given a chance to pay for the section or seat they are occupying and any further action, should it be necessary, come as secondary.

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As I've said before, this is all about profit and no different to parking tickets.

 

 

Anyone in the wrong section etc should be first off, given a chance to pay for the section or seat they are occupying and any further action, should it be necessary, come as secondary.

 

If anything, SWT would be losing out in proceeding to court as they'll only get a contribution of their costs if they prove the case. They certainly wouldn't profit from it! Completely different to parking tickets.

 

Reference the charge....it's an offence of strict liability being a Byelaw, and no offer need be made to a customer about an upgrade to that class of accommodation.

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From my experience, though this does appearing to be changing, the TOCs are out to prove a point and teach a lesson. Their primary aim isn't simply to seek massive financial rewards. SWT won't consider the cost/benefit analysis of taking this to court until its further down the line and will be out to prosecute - or at the least threaten to prosecute in the short term.

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From my experience, though this does appearing to be changing, the TOCs are out to prove a point and teach a lesson. Their primary aim isn't simply to seek massive financial rewards. SWT won't consider the cost/benefit analysis of taking this to court until its further down the line and will be out to prosecute - or at the least threaten to prosecute in the short term.

 

Indeed. The TOC doesn't profit directly from a prosecution.

 

They may gain a secondary gain when word gets around that they are prosecuting, or when people see a poster at the station of the list of names of successful prosecutions .... who might then reconsider "chancing it"

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