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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71043
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My fiancé received a letter from Swift Debt recovery

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My fiancé received a letter from Swift Debt recovery last week, initiated by the magistrates court to recover a debt of £2900.
After speaking to them on the phone today, we have ascertained that the debt is relating to an untaxed vehicle that is registered in his name. This vehicle has been parked on (what we believed) private property for over 2 years in South Wales (we moved to London in April 2013), however it is being claimed that it has been spotted 'on road' in Sept 2013 and Sept 2014- the £2900 relates to those 2 'offences' and back duty.
The car has been parked in the customer car park of his fathers business (hence why we assumed this was private property) and it turns out that is where it has been spotted.
We appreciate we made an error in not declaring it off-road, however such a high charge seems ludicrous as it hadn't been moved for a long time! What is our liability here?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
It may well actually be fairly accurate.
Did he get a summons to go to court?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

He didn't receive a summons as we had moved from South Wales to London, they may well have sent one to a previous address but it wasn't received.

The first we heard of it was last week when the recovery letter came to our current London address.

Did he tell the DVLA of the new address?
Or change of ownership of the vehicle?
I suppose there is no redirection on the post?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No change in ownership.

No change in address in the DVLA. We lived with my fiancés father before we moved, who still lives at & owns that address- he has always passed us on post (or opened it himself if we weren't due home) and he claims not to have received mail relating to this.

OK. That is not as bad as it could be.
The reason it has racked up to this sum is that the matter has been before the court, led to a trial and conviction in absence and been passed onto bailiffs who have added their own fees. Judging from the sum probably about £1500 or thereabouts was the fine and court costs. The rest would be bailiff charges.
Whether bailiff charges are excessive or not is always a valid question. They have been known to over charge.
If he didn't get the summons though and the person who opens his post at the address the DVLA have for him will confirm that nothing was sent then he can always make a statutory declaration to that effect. If that is accepted then it will take the matter back to the issue of the original summons and he can plead guilty and pay at the reduced rate. However, he needs to act immediately.
He can obviously only do this if indeed a summons was not received. People go to prison for filing false statutory declarations.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok. So the next steps are:

1: ensuring the DVLA has the address we used to live at (his dads)

2: making sure his father is absolutely clear that he did not receive a summons

3: his father has to make a statutory declaration to that effect

4: go through the court case from the beginning

1 Yes, but unless he has varied it they will.
2 Yes, that is the most important thing.
3 No, he has to make a stat dec. he is the registered keeper. His father can attend to give supporting evidence.
4 Not sure what you mean?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Great ok,

by 4. I mean, they will send another summons and we will have to begin the court process from the start?

Yes, that could happen but he can just plead guilty and pay at a vastly reduced rate.
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