Court Fines and Statutory Declarations

Every day, we receive enquiries from the public about a letter or visit from a bailiff in relation to a magistrate court fine that they knew nothing about. Usually, the reason had been because all documentation had been sent to a previous address. This is a very common problem with road traffic offences such as speeding etc and is usually due to motorist’s failing to update their driving licence and log book (V5C) after moving house.

Driving licence suspended.

If the court fine had related to speeding, there can be more serious problems because usually,  in addition to the fine, the court will order that points be deducted from the motorists driving licence. DVLA will write to the motorist at the address held on their records to request the return of the driving licence so that the points can be recorded. If the motorist fails to return the licence within 30 days…..DVLA suspend the driving licence. This can seriously impact on the motorists insurance policy and unfortunately, this is a very common problem.

How can I correct this mistake?

If you had no knowledge of the court fine, then you can submit a Statutory Declaration to the Magistrates Court. The applicable legislation is Section 14 of the Magistrates Court Act 1980. Once accepted, the warrant will be revoked and the original conviction rendered void. It is  important to be aware that a Statutory Declaration will not cancel the initial charge against you.

Is there a time limit to file a Statutory Declaration?

Yes, an application for a  statutory declaration must be made within 21 days of you becoming aware of the court fine.  In most cases, this period of time would be from when you received a letter or  personal visit from a bailiff/enforcement agent. In some cases, Magistrates may allow a statutory declaration to be made outside of the 21 day limit.

How do I find out which court to apply to for a Statutory Declaration?

This is by far the most common enquiry  that we receive. If you have difficulty ascertaining which court had convicted you in your absence,  and which court you need to apply to for a Statutory Declaration, please do not hesitate to contact us (details below) as we have a lot of experience in this subject.

Can I send my Statutory Declaration to the court by post?

Although legislation allows for a sworn statutory declaration to be sent to the Magistrate’s Court by post, the fact remains that almost all Magistrate’s Courts  insist that an appointment is made for you to attend court in person and we would certainly recommend that you do so.

Magistrate Court want me to attend in person for a Statutory Declaration?

The way in which Magistrates Courts deal with Section 14  Statutory Declaration  applications has undergone recent amendments. The position now, is that the court should re-hear the case against you as soon as possible. Accordingly, before considering your application, the court will require that you indicate whether you intend to plead guilty or not guilty to the charge against you. It is also a mandatory requirement that details of your income and expenditure and assets be provided.

What will happen at the Statutory Declaration hearing?

If your Statutory Declaration is accepted, and you had advised the court of your intention to plead guilty to the charge against you, the  Magistrates will consider your Statutory Declaration, and then proceed to hear the case against you at the same time.

Will the court fine be reduced?

Almost certainly. Before setting a new fine, your income and expenditure will be considered and will assist the court in seeing the level of fine. It is important to be aware that by entering a guilty plea, the new court fine should be reduced by one third.

I want to plead ‘not guilty’ to the offence.

If a not guilty plea is entered, the court must re-list the case for a new trial as soon as possible.

If your conviction had been for using a TV without a valid licence, then in most cases, a ‘not guilty’ plea would not be applicable. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Note from Bailiff Advice.

If you have received a letter or visit from either Marston Holdings, Collectica Ltd, Swift Credit Services  or Excel Enforcement Ltd, in relation to a court fine that you had not known about or if you require guidance  with a Statutory Declaration, you can email a question to us using our popular Question page. Alternatively, you can contact us by phone. Details are on our Contact page.

PS: A simple overview of the new Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 can be read here