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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71144
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, I wonder if you could help. My wife has a court summons

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Hi, I wonder if you could help. My wife has a court summons for travelling on a train without a valid ticket (after forgetting her railcard). The background is:

-She has a qurterly railcard for travelling into Birmingham
-One day (in November 2013) she forgot her railcard - an only found out when arriving at destination Birmingham
-She requested to pay the penalty fare at the time - but was told that she couldn't and was subsequently sent a demand in the post
-She appealed against the demand sending evidence of her valid railcard
-The train operator responded saying that the evidence was not sufficient (she hadn't included a photo card), and increased the payment demand
-Due to other things going on in life, she neglected to follow this up - and forgot about it.
-She has now been issued with a court summons for travelling without a valid ticket

If convicted, this seems like a very disproportionate punishment for a minor (and first) offence considering there was no intent - just accidentally forgetting her railcard.

What options do we have here? Can she approach the prosecutor, explaining the situation and attempt to settle out of court - i.e. pay costs, any fare due etc. Or is the only option to go to court? The important issue here is to avoid a conviction - since this is very upsetting for her and a criminal record seems completely disproportionate here.

Thanks for your help.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

She can offer to settle out of court. I know of cases where they have accepted these offers. I have to say that I have no idea on what basis they think they can do that as they have no basis in a criminal prosecution but I suppose its a case of not looking a gift horse in the mouth. Usually they are looking for an offer of about £300 and will want evidence she did have a railcard.

You really need to approach them before the day of the case though. There should be a number to call on the original fine.

If they won't negotiate then your only option is to renew the offer at court but your best chance is before the date.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So, even though this is now a criminal prosecution, we can (potentially) negotiate a "deal" between two private parties (i.e. between us and the train operator). Is that correct? If so, we will try that.


In terms of appearing in court, is it worth fighting the case, or just pleading guilty to reduce costs etc. I guess this is not the first time this has happened to someone - are there any precedents here? It just seems very wrong to get a criminal conviction when she had a perfectly valid season ticket - but just forgot it for one day out of many years travelling on the train. Also, could you advise what kind of impact a criminal conviction like this has - e.g. on credit ratings, employment checks etc.



You can. They do sometimes accept them. I cannot see on what basis they think they can but I know that they are accepting them.

If this is Regulation 18 of the Railway Bye Laws then all they have to prove is that she didn't have a ticket to display on the day so unless she did there isn't any point in contesting it.

It is a non recordable offence so its quite unlikely that it would show on CRB although that cannot be guaranteed. Its like a speeding offence though which mostly does not show on PNC.
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