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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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my daughter in law mistakenly used her Young Persons Railcard

Customer Question

my daughter in law mistakenly used her Young Persons Railcard on 26.5.13 not realising it was out of date. Got to Waterloo and went to station operative as ticket wouldn't workHe examined her ticket said it was out of date - she had to sign a form. She then received a form to sign admitting travelling without a ticket. She signed and returned the form but also sent a letter to explain did buy ticket and what had happened as form said they would decide whether to prosecute or not. this is first time and date not clearly visible. She admitted mistake and agreed to pay fine -you can not pay fine with letter have to phone - she phoned twice to pay fine but they would not accept they said letter being considered - another letter received today to say they are taking her to Magistrates court tones of letters very threatening - out of proportion
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alice H replied 4 years ago.
Hello and welcome to Just Answer.

My name is Alex and I'm happy to help with your question today.

Could you be a little more specific as to what you would like to know?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

what can we do to pay this fine and avoid going to the magistrates court

Expert:  Alice H replied 4 years ago.

It's very unlikely the company will now accept the penalty fare as the proceedings have been issued.

Usually the matter will now proceed to plea - your daughter has the option to plead guilty and receive a reduced penalty and reduced costs. Or she can plead not guilty on the basis that she was not 'intending' to avoid payment of the fare. If her explanation is accepted she will not have a conviction or pay a fine or costs.

Its not to late for your daughter to write to the rail company and offer to pay the penalty fare plus their costs for issuing proceedings. As she is clearly a young person of good character there is a possibility they will accept the offer and not proceed with the case against her.

Happy to discuss further.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for the advice - can I just check the letter from south west trains says "You have been offered to settle this matter by way of a written warning, as you have not come to our attention previously, but it is clear from your correspondence that you do not agree therefore reluctantly stagecoach south western trains limited has no option but to proceed this matter to a resolution at Richmond Magistrates Court at a date in the next three months. The charge is: intent to avoid a fare: I'm afraid having perused your YP card I am satisfied that "intent" is the appropriate charge. It is your responsibility to ensure your YP card is in date yours was several days out of date; further to that you should have purchased a valid ticket PRIOR to commencing any journey on South West trains services. "

Question: should we try writing back and saying that we do agree that an offence was committed and would like to take the written warning (which she already signed and agreed to when she sent the previous letter) and will cover any costs of issuing the proceedings together with any fine. But if they then take this further would this injure her case should they not accept the second letter and take the matter to court?


Expert:  Alice H replied 4 years ago.

I don't think you should say expressly that the offence is admitted just in case they decide to proceed to Court. At least then they won't be able to use the admission at trial if your daughter decides to plead not guilty.

However, I do think its worth writing back to say she is willing to accept the warning and you have been trying to make contact on the telephone. You can certainly make an offer to pay the costs. But just to be clear: there is no need to say she admits the offence - simply agreeing to a warning should be enough.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks so much Alex. Just one last thing we wanted to check in case it does go to court - is it a strict liability offence?


Expert:  Alice H replied 4 years ago.
No - its not strict liability. The offence of fare evasion involves an "intent to avoid payment". If your daughter made and mistake and was not intending to avoid payment then she will have a defence to the allegation.

Sometimes, in rare cases, these offences are charged as fraud if there is an element if 'dishonesty'. This does not seem to be the allegation against your daughter but if it were, her defence would be lack of 'dishonesty', for the reasons you've outlined.