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Unaware of Magistrate's Court Fine.....the importance of attending a Statutory Declaration hearing


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The following story has been heavily reported in the media this week:

 

 

 

A 20-year-old student has been fined a staggering £562 for a £2.20 journey after she was caught with the wrong ticket.

 

Parys Lanlehin was caught using a return train ticket on the wrong day - and going in the wrong direction - on June 4, 2014.

 

The University of Nottingham student was issued with a £20 penalty ticket on the Nottingham to Beeston train, but the court heard it was never paid.

 

Lanlehin, of Walthamstow, London, then signed a declaration stating she was unaware of legal proceedings taking place in Nottingham at Stratford Magistrates Court.

 

On Wednesday, the student was found guilty of boarding a train without a valid ticket after she failed to attend the case at Nottingham Magistrates Court.

 

She was fined £220 with £300 prosecution costs and a £22 government surcharge.

She was also ordered to pay the £20 penalty, which had been imposed when she was caught on the train.

 

Magistrates gave Lanlehin two weeks to pay and issued a collection order, which could lead to bailiffs removing items from her home to cover the payment.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/29/university-student-forced-to-pay-562-for-220-train-journey-after/
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It would seem from 'reading between the lines' that this lady only became aware of this court fine a short while ago. She then submitted a Statutory Declaration to the court on the basis that she had not received the summons and other documentation. It is not known whether she posted the Statutory Declaration to the court (not to be advised) or whether she attended court personally.

 

If she had of attended court, and indicating that she was 'not guilty', then the court would have provided her with a date to hear the case against her. It would seem that she failed to attend this hearing. This was a very foolish thing for her to have done and I fear that the courts will not be at all sympathetic if she attempts to file another Statutory Declaration.

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Seeing as she is obviously now aware of the fine then I cannot see how another SD could be filed. I imagine however that documentation is going to an "old" address & agree that not to attend a hearing is a bit daft considering she already had an inkling of what happens next.

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Silly girl - apparently the offence took place over two years ago!

 

I also read about this one in The Independent, mentioned alongside the story above.

 

"Earlier this year a passenger on a train in south Devon was fined almost £800 after he was caught without a ticket which would normally have cost him £2.70."

 

Apparently fare evasion costs the rail industry an estimated £240 million each year, so it's hardly surprising evaders get hefty fines.

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In some perverse way I am pleased that this particular fine has received so much media attention. In the vast majority of cases, these offences relate to students and it would greatly assist if Universities and Colleges highlighted these fines to their students. This can achieved by a Newsletter via their University portals or by posters at the Student Union etc (or better still..both).

 

That is a great deal going on in the 'background' regarding this particular offence. But the bottom line, is that it will be vitally important that an early 'plea' is entered but even more important, that a Means Form is completed.

 

The starting point for this offence is planned at being £60 and reduced to £40 if a 'guilty' plea is entered and a Means Enquiry Form completed demonstrating 'low income'.

 

If no plea is entered, or a Means Enquiry completed, the fine will remain as it is at present at £220.

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In this particular example, I'm surprised there is no explanation as to why the offender was given a penalty fare. Non-payment of a penalty fare is a civil offence, rather than a criminal one, though there appears to remain an issue with TOC's threatening criminal sanctions in letters chasing offenders for non-payment. The DfT is trying hard to stamp out this practice.

 

Given they were not given a penalty fare, but the TOC chose to pursue a criminal route, it makes one think there may be more to this than meets the eye.

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In this particular example, I'm surprised there is no explanation as to why the offender was given a penalty fare. Non-payment of a penalty fare is a civil offence, rather than a criminal one, though there appears to remain an issue with TOC's threatening criminal sanctions in letters chasing offenders for non-payment. The DfT is trying hard to stamp out this practice..

 

 

The press article does explain the reason why she was given a penalty charge. When caught, she produced a return ticket with a wrong date. The ticket produced was also for the wrong direction.

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Sounds like fare evasion which is criminal, possibly because she was intentionally travelling on someone else's ticket.

 

They may still issue a penalty fare notice but pursue the evasion via the magistrates court, if found guilty the civil fine is refunded.

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DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

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Sorry BA crossed posts.

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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The press article does explain the reason why she was given a penalty charge. When caught, she produced a return ticket with a wrong date. The ticket produced was also for the wrong direction.

 

Clear evasion then, hence the criminal route being taken. It would be interesting to see if there are figures for the number of penalty fares as opposed to a criminal route being taken.

 

You mentioned there's a lot going on in the background regarding this offence. Is there anything we can look up, or any links you can supply? It doesn't surprise me, as I know there was a large consultation just over a year ago, and when the results of that were implemented it was said the government would review it very regularly.

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Clear evasion then, hence the criminal route being taken. It would be interesting to see if there are figures for the number of penalty fares as opposed to a criminal route being taken.

 

You mentioned there's a lot going on in the background regarding this offence. Is there anything we can look up, or any links you can supply? It doesn't surprise me, as I know there was a large consultation just over a year ago, and when the results of that were implemented it was said the government would review it very regularly.

 

I do not have the up to date figures on how many fines are issued for this offence. A search on the FOI website (WhatdoTheyKnow) may produce results.

 

The ongoing review of this offence is not in any way connected with the 'One Year Review' of the enforcement regulations.

 

I will see whether I can find some up to date figures.

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I do not have the up to date figures on how many fines are issued for this offence. A search on the FOI website (WhatdoTheyKnow) may produce results.

 

The ongoing review of this offence is not in any way connected with the 'One Year Review' of the enforcement regulations.

 

I will see whether I can find some up to date figures.

 

Thanks for looking for up to date figures.

 

I appreciate this is not connected with the one year review for enforcement. There was, nevertheless, a review last February (16 months ago) regarding fare evasion and possible penalties.

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I appreciate this is not connected with the one year review for enforcement. There was, nevertheless, a review last February (16 months ago) regarding fare evasion and possible penalties.

 

Thank you CD I was not aware of it. Do you have a link?

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DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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Sorry the edit got me. Is the above the consultation in question ?

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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Sorry the edit got me. Is the above the consultation in question ?

 

Yes, one and the same as the link in the article in post 15. The article explains things reasonably well, as well as having the link. Well found - it was not a widely publicised consultation I don't think.

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