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    • ok well next time never use email esp when entering into what seems like pointless letter tennis on your behalf.?when you had no real need to reply to them in any manner or form.   it only encourages them you are a mug and gives them a free way to intimidate and harass you by email.   get some kind of records from saas/slc on what they believe is your current status as they do still do the Adminmost of these loans .      
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    • Apologies I hadn't seen that uploads need to be in PDF.   I have received the attached letter from STA which I assume is a standard letter as I've never spoken to them on the phone. I'm not sure what they mean by 're-commence recovery action'? Do I just continue to ignore them?   I have been in contact with the Uni who insist I need to pay the fees as I left the course after the first three weeks. They have not provided any evidence/documents that I signed an agreement to pay the fees or that I acknowledged that fees would be due if the course was left early. They referred me to their website which undoubtedly has changed since I was there.    I appreciate I shouldn't reply to STA however I'm not sure how to proceed with this overall.   I've read the claim form page and I'm not clear if I can request a copy of a credit agreement from the Uni as I'm not sure if its standard for a University to have required a credit agreement to be signed?    I'm not really clear what happens next and at what point I need to act. I've read about lots of different cases (fee related and non fee related) but can't find information on a case that is similar to mine. Do I wait until the Uni begins a formal action? I am concerned as I don't want the amount to increase from the already significant amount they are demanding.     Many thanks for any help you can offer.  staletter.pdf
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Magistrates Court fines...Section 14 Statutory Declaration...do I need to attend court in person?


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In September 2016, the government set up the HMCTS Historic Debt Team as a pilot scheme to recover outstanding court fines that had remained unpaid for a period of up to 10 years. In many cases, the reason for the fines not being recovered had been due to individuals moving address etc.

 

In March 2017, the government announced that since its launch, the HMCTS National Compliance and Enforcement Service had recovered ‘significant sums’ and as a consequence; the Historic Debt Team expanded their tracing activities to recover outstanding court fines over 10 years old.

 

Every day I receive at least half a dozen enquiries about an 'historic' fine and with far better computer technology at the courts, it is actually very easy to make enquiries about the fine etc and in many cases, an application can be made to the court for a Section 14 Statutory Declaration.

 

Should I pay or make a Section 14 Statutory Declaration?

 

Given that the majority of court fines from the HMCTS Historic Debt Team may go back many years, many people have little or no supporting documentation available and are naturally worried about the prospect of applying for a Section 14 Statutory Declaration and instead, decide to pay the amount requested in order to conclude the matter. This is perfectly understandable.

 

Is there a time limit for making a Section 14 Statutory Declaration:

 

An application for a Section 14 Statutory Declaration must be made within 21 days of you becoming aware of the court fine.

 

PS: And despite inaccurate internet advice, it is not 21 days from becoming aware that a Statutory Declaration is on option !!

 

Can I send a sworn Section 14 Statutory Declaration to the court (or the Historic Debt Team) by recorded delivery?

 

No you cannot...most Magistrates court will reject your application and advise you that you must make an appointment and attend court in person ......(continued on the following post).

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The following was taken from an internet site where a debtor had sought advice after being encouraged to send a Section 14 Statutory Declaration to the court by Recorded Delivery. His sworn forms were returned to him and he received the following letter. From enquiries that I receive, these letters are now becoming very common indeed.

 

Dear Mr X

 

If you were unaware of the court proceedings and did not receive the court summons/ single justice procedure, you may be entitled to make a Statutory Declaration. However, please note that you only have 21 days from the date you first became aware of the proceedings to make a Statutory Declaration. If the court decides that it was not reasonable to expect you to make the declaration within this period, it may accept a late declaration made ‘Out of time’.

 

You can make a declaration at your local Magistrates’ Court and must attend in person to make the declaration. It cannot be done in your absence. Please contact your local Magistrates’ Court to make a prior appointment.

 

If you make a declaration which you know or believe to be untrue, you could be convicted of perjury, a criminal offence punished with imprisonment of up to two years.

 

Any financial impositions and penalty points remain valid and enforcement of financial impositions will continue until a declaration has been made.

 

Please be advised that in order to apply for a valid Statutory Declaration, this has to be booked at your local Magistrates Court or at a Solicitor’s.

 

The attached form does not have a Magistrates’ Court stamp or a new case number and is not signed by a Magistrate.

 

Kind regards

 

xxxxx xxxxxx

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Take for example bailiff enforcement. The primary legislation is Schedule 12 of the Tribunal Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 which outlines the procedure that must be followed by an enforcement agent. However, Schedule 12 cannot be read in isolation; it needs to be read in conjunction with (for example); the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013, the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations etc, etc.

 

With Magistrate court fines and statutory declarations, the primary legislation is the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 but this too cannot be read in isolation and must be read in conjunction with the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR) which are amended twice yearly.

 

The CrimPR outline the practice and procedure that must be followed by Solicitors, Magistrates, District Judges, Justice’ Clerks etc.

 

It's important to understand that the Rules are not guidance. Compliance is compulsory and the word “must” in the Rules means must. There have been a number of amendments in the last few years to the procedure that must be followed by the courts when dealing with requests for a Statutory Declaration.

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The CrimPR was amended a while ago to provide a procedure for dealing with section 14 statutory declarations.

 

Previously, the CrimPR had merely referred to section 14 statutory declarations, but had not set out the procedure that should be followed (by the court). It was the HMCTS Criminal Procedure Rule Committee that proposed the amendment.

 

The Criminal Procedure Rule Committee are permitted under Sections 68 to 72 of the Courts Act 2003 to make rules that govern the practice and procedure of the criminal courts.

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For the avoidance of doubt, a Section 14 Statutory Declaration may be made outside of the 21 day period (i.e. Out of Time). A reason for the lateness must be provided and the Magistrate is require to consider the 'reason' for lateness and may or may not accept the declaration.

 

For over two years now I have been informing the public on here and elsewhere of the changes that were imposed by the courts for dealing with Section 14 Statutory Declarations. The changes were imposed in response to Sir Brian Levenson's 'Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings'.

 

I have REPEATEDLY informed the public that wherever possible, courts require a defendant to attend court IN PERSON to hear their Section 14 Statutory Declaration.

 

I have also REPEATEDLY informed the public that their Section 14 Statutory Declaration MUST be supported by a notice indicating whether they will be wishing to plead guilty or not guilty to the charge.

 

I have also REPEATEDLY stated that the defendant must also provide with his Section 14 application a statement of his assets and liabilities.

 

If the defendant indicates that he wishes to plead guilty to the charge, his statutory declaration will be dealt with first, and straight afterwards, the Magistrate will then hear the case against him and when setting the level of fine, he will rely upon the information provided by the defendant on his statement of assets and liabilities. It is that simple...and in all the many cases that I have provided assistance, it works well.

 

If is plainly obvious that the changes imposed suit both the defendant and the court:

 

In relation to the defendant, if he indicated his preference to plead guilty to the charge, he need only attend one hearing.

 

In relation to HMCTS, with the Magistrate dealing with both the Section 14 Statutory Declaration AND the charge against the defendant at the same time is in keeping with the 'Better Case Management' initiative which is designed to elicit an early guilty please and reduce the number of hearings per case.

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Yes, yes but we all know that what is written can be interpreted in different ways.

Then there is the point that the court can reject an application if it sees fit, and what is actually being said is that unless you attend and clarify your statement it will be.

It may be that the court will do this as a matter of course.

 

It is also true that BA has a vast provable experience in these matters and as far a giving advice is concerned, it is what works that counts.

 

Surely what is important is getting the right result for the debtor and not any point scoring exercise.

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I do think that given the number of stat decs which the court must receive, and their variability in both honesty and legibility, it is within the powers of the court to ask that representation be made in person.

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As I pointed out earlier, there is a huge beneficial interest on the defendant attending court in person for the statutory declaration.

 

The court will first deal with the Section 14 Statutory Declaration application and if accepted, the previous conviction will be voided.

 

Secondly, the court will then hear the case against him straight afterwards (therefore avoiding the need for the defendant to attend a second hearing).

 

Thirdly, the court will then set a new fine. In every case, this will be set at a significantly lower figure. This is because; if the defendant had failed to enter an initial plea and the case had been heard in the defendant's absence (which would apply in all cases), the court can assume that the defendant is guilty and the fine would be set at the higher end of the Sentencing Guidelines. This is very unfair indeed on defendants in receipt of benefits or on a low income.

 

There is a legal requirement that every defendant must provide a Statement of Assets and Liabilities to assist the court in setting the correct level of fine.

 

Thirdly, by entering a 'guilty' plea, the defendant qualifies for a one third reduction in the new fine.

 

Taking the above into consideration, I am at a complete loss to understand why our 'new' poster; Punchier would be wanting to put obstacles forward that do not in any way assist the naive debtor.

 

On the point of a Magistrates Court stating that a Section 14 Statutory Declaration requires a personal attendance, I can only assume that this may be an internal policy or even practice direction and this would be why the following letter is now becoming commonplace:

 

"Dear Mr X

 

If you were unaware of the court proceedings and did not receive the court summons/ single justice procedure, you may be entitled to make a Statutory Declaration. However, please note that you only have 21 days from the date you first became aware of the proceedings to make a Statutory Declaration. If the court decides that it was not reasonable to expect you to make the declaration within this period, it may accept a late declaration made ‘Out of time’.

 

You can make a declaration at your local Magistrates’ Court and must attend in person to make the declaration. It cannot be done in your absence. Please contact your local Magistrates’ Court to make a prior appointment.

 

If you make a declaration which you know or believe to be untrue, you could be convicted of perjury, a criminal offence punished with imprisonment of up to two years.

 

Any financial impositions and penalty points remain valid and enforcement of financial impositions will continue until a declaration has been made.

 

Please be advised that in order to apply for a valid Statutory Declaration, this has to be booked at your local Magistrates Court or at a Solicitor’s.

 

The attached form does not have a Magistrates’ Court stamp or a new case number and is not signed by a Magistrate.

 

Kind regards

 

xxxxxx xxxx

Admin Officer

South East London Justice Area | HMCTS | Bromley & Bexley Magistrates Court | 1 London Road | Kent | BR1 1RA

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1 - there is no requirement under the CrimPR to make an appointment to attend in person to serve a stat dec

 

2 - a stat dec can be served beyond the 21 day limit

 

I have now twice published a copy of a letter that is frequently being sent to debtors by courts around the country when they receive a Section 14 Statutory Declaration by Registered post.

 

"Dear Mr X

 

You can make a declaration at your local Magistrates’ Court and must attend in person to make the declaration.

 

It cannot be done in your absence. Please contact your local Magistrates’ Court to make a prior appointment.

 

Please be advised that in order to apply for a valid Statutory Declaration, this has to be booked at your local Magistrates Court or at a Solicitor’s.

 

Kind regards

 

South East London Justice Area | HMCTS | Bromley & Bexley Magistrates Court | 1 London Road | Kent | BR1 1RA

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For the avoidance of doubt, page 3 of HM Courts & Tribunals Service Statement of Assets and Other Financial Circumstances (MC100) states the following:

 

https://formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/mc100-eng.pdf

 

This is an official request from the Designated Officer. Every defendant who is prosecuted for an offence needs to provide financial information when asked.

 

It is an offence not to provide the court with a statement of assets and other financial circumstances following an official request.

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Nope. This is the court replying using its own powers, not the Maj act 1980. It is saying that it will not proceed unless the application is made in person, the court can do this in the case of an application by mail.

 

To be honest i had expected something along thee lines would happen as soon as I saw various websites advising debtors to use SDs without ensuring they met the parameters required. There is a reason why the court included the section about contempt of court. They must be inundated.

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As I pointed out earlier, there is a huge beneficial interest on the defendant attending court in person for the statutory declaration.

 

The court will first deal with the Section 14 Statutory Declaration application and if accepted, the previous conviction will be voided.

 

Secondly, the court will then hear the case against him straight afterwards (therefore avoiding the need for the defendant to attend a second hearing).

 

Thirdly, the court will then set a new fine. In every case, this will be set at a significantly lower figure. This is because; if the defendant had failed to enter an initial plea and the case had been heard in the defendant's absence (which would apply in all cases), the court can assume that the defendant is guilty and the fine would be set at the higher end of the Sentencing Guidelines. This is very unfair indeed on defendants in receipt of benefits or on a low income.

 

Can I just clarify the position, the above is the procedure that applies in cases where a defendant when making his Section 14 Statutory Declaration indicates his intention to plead guilty to the charge (and in which case, the case against him will dealt with on the same day straight after the court have considered his Section 14 Statutory Declaration.

 

PS: In most of the cases that I have assisted in, the defaulter pleads guilty and the matter is dealt with very swiftly and on the same day.

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To clarify the position, a person may indeed plead not guilty (although in most cases I believe this is not the case).

 

If the fine had been for an unpaid TV Licence (which accounts for 10% of all court fines) it is usually the case that a 'not guilty' please is inadvisable.

 

If a defaulters enters a 'guilty plea', then common sense alone would tell you that he is guaranteed to have his new fine set at a significantly lower rate. This is because; he would qualify for a one third discount for entering an early plea (and thereby avoiding the need for a further hearing).

Edited by honeybee13
Removing reference to assisting and mention of TV licensing clients.
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Ideally, that is what the courts are wanting to achieve as it avoids the costs of another hearing. also, the amendment itself provides that the court itself must proceed with a new trial as soon as possible (in other words, without delay).

 

There are occasions where it is not possible of the case to be reheard on the same day.

Edited by honeybee13
Removing reference to case
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I have not in actual fact referred to any specific CrimPR rules (there are many of them). Debtors and the public are not interested in links to legislation. They are interested in having the position explained to them (as I have done).

 

For reasons that are unexplained, you appear to be putting obstacles forward to discourage debtors from attending a Statutory Declaration hearing. I really don't understand why?

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With better technology in the courts, this information is now easily to hand and in most cases, is obtained within a day or so of making the enquiry. It really is very simple to obtain this information. There is nothing difficult about it at all (even for court fines going back 10 years or more).

 

PS: As I have mentioned very often, 10% of all court fines are for non payment of a TV Licence fine. In such cases, a 'non guilty' plea is very rarely ever appropriate (and if entered, would mean that the debtor would be in a worse position financially). If an 'non guilty' plea is entered, the defendant would not qualify at his or her new trial from a one third discount (for an early not guilty plea).

Edited by honeybee13
Reference to clients removed
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A TV Licence court fine is unlike all others. This is because; the Prosecutor (TV Licensing) must attend the hearing and provide in the court bundle a copy of the sworn statement from the defendant (referred to as the Prosecution Statement.....TVL178).

 

This is a signed statement by the defendant (witnessed by the TV Licence Enquiry Agent) obtained at the time of the visit from confirming that they had been viewed a TV without a TV Licence (in other words, that they are guilty of the offence of viewing a TV without a valid licence.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, by signing the TVL 178, the defendant has already confirmed their guilt so should certainly not indicate to the court their preference to plead not guilty. To do so, could lead to them being accused of perjury.

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I have already answered this question a few times and once again, you need to rely upon the letters that are being sent by HMCTS to debtors (a copy of which is below).

 

If you consider that the advice from HMCTS is incorrect, then surely you should be taking your concerns to them (and not here). After all, the following template did featured on your own forum a few weeks ago !!! Why you have not challenged it?

 

If you do get a response from HMCTS, please do let us know. Until then, I would not want to mislead fine defaulters myself into taking another course of action, and in particular a course of action that could lead to further delay for the defaulter and the risk of enforcement action recommencing.

 

 

"Dear Mr X

 

If you were unaware of the court proceedings and did not receive the court summons/ single justice procedure, you may be entitled to make a Statutory Declaration. However, please note that you only have 21 days from the date you first became aware of the proceedings to make a Statutory Declaration. If the court decides that it was not reasonable to expect you to make the declaration within this period, it may accept a late declaration made ‘Out of time’.

 

You can make a declaration at your local Magistrates’ Court and must attend in person to make the declaration. It cannot be done in your absence. Please contact your local Magistrates’ Court to make a prior appointment.

 

If you make a declaration which you know or believe to be untrue, you could be convicted of perjury, a criminal offence punished with imprisonment of up to two years.

 

Any financial impositions and penalty points remain valid and enforcement of financial impositions will continue until a declaration has been made.

 

Please be advised that in order to apply for a valid Statutory Declaration, this has to be booked at your local Magistrates Court or at a Solicitor’s.

 

The attached form does not have a Magistrates’ Court stamp or a new case number and is not signed by a Magistrate.

 

Kind regards

 

xxxxxx xxxx

Admin Officer

South East London Justice Area | HMCTS | Bromley & Bexley Magistrates Court | 1 London Road | Kent | BR1 1RA

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Given the fact that a letter has been received from HMCS saying this, it seems reasonable advice to be giving.

 

In light of that, i would be giving that as advice certainly. You don't ignore letter from the Maj's court.

 

I am aware that there is bad advice to ignore court instructions. Take the advice to ignore letters which say payments must be made to the EA and not the court for instance, but as seen following such advice always ends in tears.

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Please try to keep your posts accurate. HMCTS state that the defendant must attend and I would not wish to encourage defaulters into believing that the courts are wrong. With seeing so many similar letters from different courts, it seems clear to me that this is the procedure that seems to be followed in most courts (and it is one that I wholly agree with).

 

Even if a Statutory Declaration were sent by post and accepted......that would merely void the conviction. That is all. It does not cancel the initial charge and as made clear earlier, the court must list the case for a rehearing as soon as possible...and accordingly the defaulter would be required to take time off work.

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If the procedure did not work to the defendants advantage, I would be the first to raise objections of that I can assure you. The way in which I see it (and from the many cases I assist with), there can only be advantages to the defendant in the way in which court manage Section 14 Statutory Declarations and no disadvantages.

 

Even if the court were to accept a Section 14 Statutory Declaration by post, the court MUST arrange for a re-hearing to take place as soon as possible.

 

I am not at all surprised of the stance that is being taken by magistrates courts as sadly, many statutory declarations are not truthful. An example is an enquiry that I had late last week where the court rejected an application. The defendant claimed that she had not known of the conviction and yet, deductions had been made from her benefits for over a year. She had also made two voluntary payments as well. The attachments ended when she came off benefits.

 

Another case is where a debtor received a bailiff visit....paid the fine direct to the court and approx 8 weeks later, enforcement recommenced and she made a false Statutory Declaration to claim that she had only just been made aware of the conviction.

 

What it much more baffling, is the way in which you appear not to want to help a defendant (and usually, a naive defendant at that) with getting a conviction voided and a rehearing of the case dealt with at the same time and with almost certain guarantee that the new fine will be set at a lower rate than previously !!!

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From the Local Government Lawyer website:

 

Section 14 of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 provides that Magistrates Court proceedings shall be void where the defendant makes a statutory declaration of his or her ignorance of those proceedings until after the beginning of the trial.

 

Under new Rule 37.16 there are two possibilities provided for. Firstly where the defendant attends court personally to deliver the statutory declaration and secondly where the defendant delivers it by post or through someone else. In each case the rule requires the court to proceed as soon as possible with a fresh trial.

 

In practice this appears to be immediately after the making of a statutory declaration.

 

I would agree with the lawyers observation (that the courts objective is that the case against the debtor should be re-heard immediately following the granting of the statutory declaration).....and as I see it, this procedure works well.

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It is said on this thread that the court sending a letter to inform a claimant that he should attend to stat dec hearing is contrary to the act, the CPR and just about everything.

I have yet to see where any of these enactment state this.

 

The fact is that an application is not served on the court unless it is correctly sent within the allotted time or within an extension of time as permitted by the court.

It is not only a matter of how it is sent or delivered but it must be sent within 21 days of the person becoming aware of the case. If it is not then there is no service to the court.

 

The debtor will give reasons why a SD is presented and the court will decide; (a) if they believe him, and (b) if late, if an application to extend the 21 days under sub section 3 is appropriate.

It is quite legal to ask the debtor to attend and present his case.

As I said, if he does not attend the court will simply rule that the SD was not correctly served.

 

This, i repeat is not to discuss the statutory declaration or how it is sent, this is to discuss its late presentation.

Original Content:

From the Local Government Lawyer website:

 

Section 14 of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 provides that Magistrates Court proceedings shall be void where the defendant makes a statutory declaration of his or her ignorance of those proceedings until after the beginning of the trial.

 

Under new Rule 37.16 there are two possibilities provided for. Firstly where the defendant attends court personally to deliver the statutory declaration and secondly where the defendant delivers it by post or through someone else. In each case the rule requires the court to proceed as soon as possible with a fresh trial.

 

In practice this appears to be immediately after the making of a statutory declaration.

 

I would agree with the lawyers observation (that the courts objective is that the case against the debtor should be re-heard immediately following the granting of the statutory declaration).....and as I see it, this procedure works well.

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Guest Captain Bluedog

The rule is 24.17 which says nothing about requiring to attend in person. The Magistrates Court Act 1980 s14 says you can send a stat dec by post. The Government's own stat dec template says you can post it.

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