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Paid Marston for HMCTS Historic Debt team Tv licence Fine we knew nowt about - can we get our moneyback?

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In a nutshell,

we ended up forking out £415 to Marstons for a 'debt' that wasn't owed,

out of fear of it escalating

and not being able to prove otherwise.

 

After a recent visit from the bailiffs

- even though my boyfriend paid up

- we are now wondering if there is a way to get the money back?

 

My boyfriend received a letter of enforcement to my house (where he now lives) about 3 months ago,

saying he owed £350 for a debt that he had no idea about.

 

He ignored it (unknown to me at the time),

then he got another letter with the fee up to £415,

I told him to deal with it,

out of fear of bailiffs knocking on my door.

 

He called them up and they told him to contact the historic debt office.

 

It appeared he was fined in 2013 for nonpayment of a TV licence,

as a court decision (he had left the property) was made in his absence and fined him.

 

As we didn't know how he could have proved he didn't have a TV,

and had no idea that we could have appealed this,

to get them off our backs

and to stop the charges going up,

my boyfriend just paid the fine.

 

He did it in two installments as we don't have much money.

We thought that it was over,

 

then yesterday we got a knock at 10am on Sunday morning from Marston bailiffs,

saying he still owed money,

and they were putting even more charges on top.

 

He showed them the bank statement of the final payment,

and they said they would check it out and went away.

 

It has made me really angry that even after paying money that wasn't owed,

they still came round harassing us.

 

I have no idea if they will be back,

but I have since found out that the fine was invalid anyway.

 

I am wondering what we can do about this?

I want to fight them now,

it is so unfair that this is happening

and they got money out of us that they shouldn't have done,

just because we were scared.

 

Thanks for any help/advice.

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its not only proving he had no TV

its proving he did not have the capability of viewing live TV on any device.

 

dx


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But isn't the issue more that if he wasn't at the address to receive the court order,

then if a fine is imposed for something that the person did not know about, it is invalid?

 

So essentially, he shouldn't have to prove anything other than that he had moved out of that address, and therefore never knew about the fine?

 

This information below is from another website:

 

"Court fines, HMCTS Historic Debt team.

 

You received an unexpected demand about an old court fine.

 

HM Court Service introduced a policy in 2017 reviving old unpaid court fines and started tracing debtors to recover them.

 

If you received an unexpected demand about a fine you knew nothing about, the law says the proceedings are invalid.

Section 14 of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 states:

 

14 Proceedings invalid where accused did not know of them.

 

(1)Where a summons has been issued under section 1 above and a magistrates’ court has begun to try the information to which the summons relates, then, if—

 

(a)the accused, at any time during or after the trial, makes a statutory declaration that he did not know of the summons or the proceedings until a date specified in the declaration, being a date after the court has begun to try the information; and

 

(b)within 21 days of that date the declaration is served on the designated officer for the court, without prejudice to the validity of the information, the summons and all subsequent proceedings shall be void.

 

(2)For the purposes of subsection (1) above a statutory declaration shall be deemed to be duly served on the designated officer if it is delivered to him, or left at his office, or is sent in a registered letter or by the recorded delivery service addressed to him at his office.

 

(3)If on the application of the accused it appears to a magistrates’ court (which for this purpose may be composed of a single justice) that it was not reasonable to expect the accused to serve such a statutory declaration as is mentioned in subsection (1) above within the period allowed by that subsection, the court may accept service of such a declaration by the accused after that period has expired; and a statutory declaration accepted under this subsection shall be deemed to have been served as required by that subsection."

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There are two issues here. There is the problem of this new attempt to collect money from you which you say you have already paid. There is also the issue of apparently an invalid debt.

 

I'm afraid that I think that you won't find that the question of the invalid debt is a matter for Marston. In fact you will be far more difficult than that because you will have to deal with the TV licensing authorities and the courts.

 

More pressing problem is this new visit today. Although the Enforcement Agent has gone away, you have no idea if that is the end of the matter. Have you received any correspondence about this? Was any notice that with you? I would suggest that you call Marston urgently and speak their customer service department and tell them exactly what has happened and also be prepared to supply them with evidence of your payment.

 

Are you sure that this isn't a second separate matter?


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Thank you BankFodder for your response.

 

"Are you sure that this isn't a second separate matter?"

 

Absolutely sure.

 

They informed my boyfriend of the full debt (£415) and told him that he had set up a 'payment plan' with them, but had only paid half it.

 

They informed of the same amount of money that they thought he owed,

that he had actually paid in the second instalment

(actually, he had paid Marston £10 more by accident, so they in fact owe him £10 back, in the least!).

 

This is only the one 'debt'

and yes, I am pretty sure Marstons don't care if it was never a debt he should have had in the first place.

 

The only correspondence received were the two letters of enforcement, showing the £350 and then the £415.

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In that case I suggest that you get on to Marston customer service tomorrow and tell them what has happened and also be prepared to provide them with whatever evidence is needed to show that this is a duplicate of a debt which has already been paid.

 

Follow-up anything you agree with them in writing to them – sending it recorded delivery. Once you get Marston to agree that there is some error and that it is a duplicate debt, insist that Marston send you confirmation of this in writing. Asked them how long it will take and include that in your confirmation letter to them.

 

It's very important to keep a paper trail


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In a nutshell, we ended up forking out £415 to Marstons for a 'debt' that wasn't owed.

 

My boyfriend received a letter of enforcement to my house (where he now lives) about 3 months ago, saying he owed £350 for a debt that he had no idea about.

 

He ignored it (unknown to me at the time), then he got another letter with the fee up to £415. He called them up and they told him to contact the historic debt office.

 

It appeared he was fined in 2013 for nonpayment of a TV licence, as a court decision (he had left the property) was made in his absence and fined him. As we didn't know how he could have proved he didn't have a TV, and had no idea that we could have appealed this, to get them off our backs and to stop the charges going up, my boyfriend just paid the fine. He did it in two installments as we don't have much money.

 

I have since found out that the fine was invalid anyway. Thanks for any help/advice.

 

You mention in your initial post that your partner 'forked out' £415 for a debt that 'was not owed' and further that you have since found out that 'the fine was invalid.

 

As I see it, the fine was indeed owed and was not invalid at all.

 

This is a very common situation indeed. At some stage around 2013 (or slightly earlier,) your partner would have received a personal visit from a TV Licence Enquiry Agent.

 

During that visit, the enquiry agent would have interviewed your partner about the existence (or more to the point, the none existence) of a TV Licence. The enquiry agent would usually attempt to get the individual to purchase a NEW TV licence and a direct debit form would be completed.

 

Your partner would have been asked to complete and sign a TVL178 Form. By signing this form, your partner would have been agreeing that he had been viewing a TV without a valid licence. That document is used as a 'Prosecution' statement by TV Licensing in order to prosecute your partner (for using a TV without a licence).

 

From what you have written, your partner appears to have been unaware that he had been prosecuted as he had moved address. That does not make the fine invalid.

 

If your partner had genuinely been unaware that he had been convicted, then he could have applied to the Magistrates Court for a Statutory Declaration. Unfortunately, the regulations regarding such applications are very specific indeed and provide that a person may apply for a Section 14 Statutory Declaration within 21 days of becoming aware of the fine. Your partner became aware of what this fine related to when he contacted the HMCTS Historic Debt Team.

 

1). When did your partner contact the Historic Debt Team?

 

2). When he spoke with the Historic Debt Team, was he given the date of the conviction?

 

3). Most importantly, was your partner told how much the fine had been for?

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After a recent visit from the bailiffs - even though my boyfriend paid up - we are now wondering if there is a way to get the money back?

 

My boyfriend received a letter of enforcement to my house (where he now lives) about 3 months ago, saying he owed £350 for a debt that he had no idea about.

 

He ignored it (unknown to me at the time), then he got another letter with the fee up to £415, I told him to deal with it, my boyfriend just paid the fine. He did it in two installments as we don't have much money.

 

The amounts do not seem correct.

 

Assuming that the initial letter (to request £350) was from Marston's and entitled 'Notice of Enforcement', then that amount would have included a Compliance fee of £75.

 

You mention that your partner made payment in two instalments.

 

1). How much did he pay in each instalment?

 

2). When did he make these payments?

 

3). Were the payments made to Marston's or to the court?

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If your partner had genuinely been unaware that he had been convicted, then he could have applied to the Magistrates Court for a Statutory Declaration. Unfortunately, the regulations regarding such applications are very specific indeed and provide that a person may apply for a Section 14 Statutory Declaration within

 

1). When did your partner contact the Historic Debt Team?

 

2). When he spoke with the Historic Debt Team, was he given the date of the conviction?

 

3). Most importantly, was your partner told how much the fine had been for?

 

Thanks for this very helpful response.

 

 

Yes, he was very genuinely unaware of the conviction.

 

 

He told me he does remember the visit from the officer before he moved addresses,

but he absolutely did not sign any form.

He just told him to "do one", in a nutshell.

Definitely no form signing.

 

He contacted the historic debt team after the second Marston's letter, which was the beginning of September this year.

 

 

I'm aware we're out of the 21 day limit for a statutory declaration,

but my partner was also diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome by a specialist this summer,

as well as having recent extended time off work with stress for other reasons,

so there are mitigating factors for extending the limit (I hope).

 

The original fine (with costs and 'victim surcharge') was £340,

and the court statement from the HDT says the case was "proved in absence".

 

 

The statement says that on 04/11/2013 he used a TV without a licence at the address.

His last rent payment to that address was in December 2013.

The "proved in absence" date was 19/04/2014.

 

Thanks for any further help.

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so who signed that admittance form when the capita guy knocked on the properties door??? or don't it work like that now?


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No one.

He did not sign a form.

He said something to the guy along the lines of

"why would I pay for a licence to watch and support the likes of Jimmy Saville?"

And then told him to do one.

 

The form was not produced.

So, unless the guy actually signed it unlawfully himself??

Or the court went ahead without that form?

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Thanks for this very helpful response.

 

He told me he does remember the visit from the officer before he moved addresses, but he absolutely did not sign any form. He just told him to "do one", in a nutshell.

Definitely no form signing.

 

He contacted the historic debt team after the second Marston's letter, which was the beginning of September this year. The original fine (with costs and 'victim surcharge') was £340, and the court statement from the HDT says the case was "proved in absence".

 

So the amount before the debt was passed to Marston's was for £340. A compliance fee of £75 would have been added when the Notice of Enforcement was sent bringing the amount due to £425. A lot depends on precisley WHEN your partner made payment of the sum of £425.

 

Given your comment that payment had been made in 2 instalments, I would suspect that payment in full had not been made by the date given on the Notice of Enforcement (by when full payment must be made).

 

If correct, then it is likely that the account had been passed to an enforcement agent to enforce. If so, then unfortunately, your partner would be liable for the enforcement fee of £235.

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.. ^^


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The amounts do not seem correct.

 

Assuming that the initial letter (to request £350) was from Marston's and entitled 'Notice of Enforcement', then that amount would have included a Compliance fee of £75.

 

You mention that your partner made payment in two instalments.

 

1). How much did he pay in each instalment?

 

2). When did he make these payments?

 

3). Were the payments made to Marston's or to the court?

 

Yes sorrry - as per other other post, the original fine was actually £340 - so then the second letter with the £415 fee would have been correct with £75 added.

 

He made a payment to them in early September of around £135, then after his next pay day at the end of September he paid them the final amount (he actually overpaid by £10 by accident!). These payments were to Marston's, not the court.

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No one.

He did not sign a form. He said something to the guy along the lines of "why would I pay for a licence to watch and support the likes of Jimmy Saville?"

And then told him to do one.

 

The form was not produced. So, unless the guy actually signed it unlawfully himself?? Or the court went ahead without that form?

 

The 'prosecution statement' is a vitally important document and I would be very surprised indeed if a TV Licence Enquiry Agent would forge a signature on such an important document. If your partner is really intend on making a Regulation 14 Statutory Declaration, then he really must approach the Historic Debt Team for a copy of the documentation provided to the court by TV Licensing.

 

PS: From the many enquiries that I have assisted with on the same subject, it is sadly the case that the vast majority of people signing the TVL178 do so in the mistaken belief that they are signing to agree a direct debit.

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Yes sorrry - as per other other post, the original fine was actually £340 - so then the second letter with the £415 fee would have been correct with £75 added.

 

He made a payment to them in early September of around £135, then after his next pay day at the end of September he paid them the final amount (he actually overpaid by £10 by accident!). These payments were to Marston's, not the court.

 

Thank you so much for your detailed replies. From what you have written, it is clear that your partner had not paid the debt in full by the date given on the Notice of Enforcement and I would therefore expect that the debt had indeed been passed to an enforcement agent to enforce. if so, when that visit was made, an enforcement fee of £235 became payable.

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So the amount before the debt was passed to Marston's was for £340. A compliance fee of £75 would have been added when the Notice of Enforcement was sent bringing the amount due to £425. A lot depends on precisley WHEN your partner made payment of the sum of £425.

 

Given your comment that payment had been made in 2 instalments, I would suspect that payment in full had not been made by the date given on the Notice of Enforcement (by when full payment must be made).

 

If correct, then it is likely that the account had been passed to an enforcement agent to enforce. If so, then unfortunately, your partner would be liable for the enforcement fee of £235.

 

No, when he paid the first instalment in early September, he agreed a payment plan WITH Marstons on the phone.

 

They gave him seven days from after his next payday (25 Sept) to pay the final instalment.

 

He paid this in full within those seven days.

 

There was nothing owing, he has paid according to the plan he had agreed with them.

 

With the visit on Sunday, they were trying to tell my partner that he had not paid the second instalment. He showed them his online bank statement as proof.

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Thank you very much also for your help and replies!

The debt had already gone to the enforcement agency, being Marstons, yes.

 

I keep asking my partner did he sign a form,

and he is saying over and over that he did not.

 

Would we be able to ask the court to produce that form, if it exists?

 

In the Freedom of Information Act, potentially?

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This information below is from another website:

 

"Court fines, HMCTS Historic Debt team. You received an unexpected demand about an old court fine.

 

If you received an unexpected demand about a fine you knew nothing about, the law says the proceedings are invalid.

 

I assume that it is from reading the above comment that you considered that your partner's fine was invalid (which it isn't).

 

For the sake of accuracy, proceedings can only be found to be 'invalid' if a Magistrate Court accept a Section 14 Statutory Declaration.

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No, when he paid the first instalment in early September, he agreed a payment plan WITH Marstons on the phone. They gave him seven days from after his next payday (25 Sept) to pay the final instalment. He paid this in full within those seven days. There was nothing owing, he has paid according to the plan he had agreed with them.

 

Thank you for this further information. I would suggest that your partner call Marston in the morning to ensure that his account is showing as paid in full. Please post back to let us know the response.

 

With regards to the 'Prosecution' statement (TVL178), it should be relatively easily for your partner to make a request to the Historic Debt Team for a copy of the statements presented to the court by TV Licensing.

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I suggest your b/f is the architect of his predicament,

1. the original Court papers was correctly 'served' on his last know (property) address (pres he did not setup a mail redirect on moving nor make a 'stat dec' within req'd timescale, once made aware of Court decision.

Telling a TV Enquiry Officer to 'do one' was ill advised.

Most TV Licence payers dislike those who do not pay Stat fee.

Marstons act only as Agent for TVLA

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The 'prosecution statement' is a vitally important document and I would be very surprised indeed if a TV Licence Enquiry Agent would forge a signature on such an important document. If your partner is really intend on making a Regulation 14 Statutory Declaration, then he really must approach the Historic Debt Team for a copy of the documentation provided to the court by TV Licensing.

 

PS: From the many enquiries that I have assisted with on the same subject, it is sadly the case that the vast majority of people signing the TVL178 do so in the mistaken belief that they are signing to agree a direct debit.

Yes they might, a TVL Goon was prosecuted in South Wales for jut that very thing. There is a track record of TVL/Capita shenanigans on record. Will dig them out.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4262202/BBC-s-TV-licence-bullies-exposed.html

 

[Removed]

 

The second case was dropped.

Edited by dx100uk
Sadly can't carry that link language there is unexceptable in attitude

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I suggest your b/f is the architect of his predicament,

1. the original Court papers was correctly 'served' on his last know (property) address (pres he did not setup a mail redirect on moving nor make a 'stat dec' within req'd timescale, once made aware of Court decision.

Telling a TV Enquiry Officer to 'do one' was ill advised.

Most TV Licence payers dislike those who do not pay Stat fee.

Marstons act only as Agent for TVLA

 

Well, as he has chronic fatigue syndrome and is very ill, I think I'd rather help him. Quite frankly, I don't give a toss if "TV licence payers" dislike those who don't pay the stat fee, that is irrelevant and not a very helpful comment..

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Thank you! Interesting reading. Yes, I couldn't imagine they'd be so innocent as to never risk a little false submission here and there of the paperwork.

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Thank you for this further information. I would suggest that your partner call Marston in the morning to ensure that his account is showing as paid in full. Please post back to let us know the response.

 

With regards to the 'Prosecution' statement (TVL178), it should be relatively easily for your partner to make a request to the Historic Debt Team for a copy of the statements presented to the court by TV Licensing.

 

Cheers, yes I will do. I will get him to contact the HDT for that paperwork, then.

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