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back to article DVLA under scrutiny over penalty notice dating game

The Department of Transport is to look at allegations that the DVLA has been breaking the law in its treatment of off-road penalty notices, and that it is hiding behind "client privilege" to refuse to answer questions about its conduct. The allegations surfaced a few months back when motorbike courier James Collins noticed that …

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SORN scam

I recently received a fixed penalty for not declaring SORN on a vehicle despite having done so on the DVLA website.

Normally I just tick the box and send it back in the post, but lured by the chance of winning a brand new SEAT car, I used their site.

£82 in road tax and fixed penalty later, never again.

(presumably there wasn't even a car to win either)

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Bronze badge

SORN Scam - OR NOT?

I do not understand Neil's claim. When submitted online you get an immediate confirmation page to print. I don't bother as I keep that on scren till the confirmation email arrives 30s later. It tells you to save that. And of course you get a postal confirmation a few days later.

Is Neil saying DVLA/Court did not accept their own confirmation - or if there was no confirmation did Neil check it had gone through?

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another scam

A friend of mine is notorious for killing cars due to no obvious fault of his own.

Earlier this year they took him to court for failing to notify them of a car he had scrapped. He had copies of all the paperwork, so went to court. DVLA presented their evidence first.

Then he presented the judge with copies of the paperwork - their reply letter to the notification.

DVLA spokesperson said "Oh yes, I've got that too". Case dismissed.

Fast forward one month, he receives another court summons for a previous car he'd scrapped - but 3 years ago. Nobody keeps paperwork that long! He does now, but had to pay the penalty this time.

I wonder if its because he lives in Swansea, and someone in the DVLA has a grudge against him?

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Unhappy

Always print the confirmation

... and keep it.

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Joke

I was expecting....

.... an article on how the DVLA staff were using their powers to arrange romantic dates with people caught speeding... ah wel....

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The law is too complicated...

The law is too complicated for even the government to follow...

(Or maybe that should be the tangle of laws is too complicated)

They've only themselves to blame.

Sam

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M
Go

Whoa

This could be immense! The DVLA have been playing fast and loose for years with our data so fcuk 'em.

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Paris Hilton

Sorry, I don't understand

How can the penalty notice carry any date other than when it was printed? Are they to leave the section blank? Or have "insert date here"? And what bearing does that have anyway?

I really cannot see what the DVLA has (or anyone else may have) done wrong. The story is simply not clear enough.

Paris, becaus elong words confuse her as well.

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Correction

the cost <strikethough>To government</strikethough> to the tax payer could be immense

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Flame

DVLA is bloated department of incompetence.

As a Summer motorcylist, winter motorist, it's a total PITA to have to SORN each vehicle every 6 months, it's a waste of my time, and a waste of my taxpayers money to have DLVA process this crap.

SORN for Motorcycles should be scraped, as most people have the space to store a motorcycle off-road. That would be a good start as cutting down on the crap that these bueurocrats waste my money processing.

Whilst they are at it, they can scrap Motorcycle tax too, as if they really want to encourage less cars on the roads, that would be a good way (and the £40 it costs to tax my bike, is surely all wasted in administration costs anyway).

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Coat

@Neil

If you'd read further you'd discover that anyone could have entered the draw to win the car without acting online to SORN or re-tax.

I did and taxed mine at my local threatened-with-closure Post Office whilst simultaneously sending 24 packages to all corners of the globe to cause maximum annoyance to the crinkly customers.

Mine's the one with a large collection of "proof of posting" notices in the pockets.

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Coat

Precedent

Forgot to post this:

http://news.scotsman.com/trafficwardensandparkingregulations/City-parking-fines-ruled-illegal.2838041.jp

Don't know how to make it a link, sorry.

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Coat

There's a precedent for this date issue.

This happened in Edinburgh a few years ago though they managed to avoid refunding much of the 'revenue'.

Though the date issue was undeniable, they clung to a legal opinion that payment of the fine, rather than challenging it via the established procedure, was an admission of guilt.

I expect that the same argument will be relevant in this case though, as the article says, any additional fines or recovery fees charged as a result of the original offence may be refundable.

It's all a bit murky and underhand, hence the pickpocket...

It doesn't seem right to be able to retain the money when the correct process, I believe it's called The Law, wasn't followed and it's only the rule of law that allows the fine to be levied.

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Gas & others do this as well

When I get the gas bill it offers a prompt payment reduction if I pay within 10 days or something. However the date that I get the bill is often a week after the date printed on it.

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Anonymous Coward

They're Bent Anyway

They have it within their capability to send a penalty notification within days of the due date of SORN, but leave it much longer than that so that they can charge a period of tax in addition to the penalty. So they get to make a bit more money.

You won't get anywhere complaining to UK.gov about that because they want the DVLA to make as much money as possible.

Then there's the whole issue of the right to appeal. In essence you don't have one. They will accept nothing as proof of SORN other than their letter confirming it. So if they (or the Post Office) screw up your SORN application and they don't send out the letter then you haven't applied for SORN. Even if you had video evidence and a witness statement jointly signed by the Queen, the PM and the Arch Bish to say that you had applied for SORN at the Post Office you didn't actually do it because somebody at the Post Office ticked the wrong box or something went wrong at the DVLA.

It's great isn't it? The whole system works on their being infallible, which they say they are and since they are judge, jury and executioner nobody else gets a say.

Never mind. We can comfort ourselves with the thought that they will all be out of a job when the government inevitably outsources them to the lowest bidder and their jobs all get sent to India.

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@Neil Morgan

Ssshh! some of the commentards on here are the same folk who are paid good taxpayers money to write e-gov websites like the one that stitched you up.

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Anonymous Coward

SORN the thin end of the wedge.

When SORN was proposed I could see that this was the thin end of the wedge. The first legislation in the UK which criminalised you for not having the correct paperwork!! It wasn't enough to declare SORN, you have to do it EVERY YEAR. So if you went abroad to work on a 2 year contact and garaged your car or motorcycle, then you had to remember to fill in the SORN declaration the 2nd year. Why was this written into the legislation? SORN was intended to fix the problem of untaxed cars on the road. It should have been enough to make the SORN declaration last as long as the vehicle was off the road. It would be interesting to see how many people are fined for using an untaxed car these days?

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Anonymous Coward

One step ahead

All my sorn penalties and parking tickets, and I have a few, go to my previous address, which I left no forwarding address for, if they want money off me they can track me down and take me to court, where I will tell the judge that I have hardly any money and will get £5 installments. In reality, I could easily afford the penalties, but, in principle, if they want it, they will work damn hard to get it :)

So far, they neither dvla or parking companies have had a penny!

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Jay
Go

@ Sam Liddicott

The Laws around SORN aren't complicated they are remarkably easy to understand.

What seems to have happened is DVLA didn't bother to read them.

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Jay
Go

explaining the non compliance

To clear up any confusion.

The law states you must pay an £80 penalty BUT if you pay within 28 days of being notified (ie served with the penalty notice in accordance with the interpretations act) that a penalty is due the penalty is reduced to £40.

DVLA have mis-interpreted the law to mean you have 28 days to pay from the day they print the penalty, they then take a few days to process the letter through their post rooms and then send it by mailsort 2, a second class service so you receive it a week or so later and have less than 28 days to pay the reduced amount contrary to the law. This makes the DVLA notices non-compliant with the law and in theory worthless.

Hope that clears it up.

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Flame

sorn really pisses me off.

2 morris minors in storage -why do I have to keep telling the morons that they are not taxed? They (should) know that anyway. Listen you DVLA cretins, not taxed = not road legal. I understand that FFS. If they're not taxed I'm not using them. If you find them on the road you can fine me or crush them or whatever. Have you got altzheimers or something? I've got my old fishing rod in the loft-haven't used it since I was a kid. Who do I get permission not to use that from?

I can see no reason, especially with the advent of ANPR, why Sorn exists at all, or at least why there is no option to Sorn indefinitely.

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Tom
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DVLA, what a bunch of retards.

I taxed my car online - on the evening of the day the reminder arrived, which was 14 days before the tax ran out. The tax disc arrived the day after the old one ran out, meaning my car was parked on the road with an out of date disc.

A few days after I got the tax disc I got a penalty notice. Dispite having the confirmation page printed, the confirmation email and the disc its self nobody at the DVLA believed me at first. After several phone calls it was sorted out and I did not have to pay the penalty.

Their reason for the initial delay - apparently it was my fault for leaving it too late to send the paperwork back to them and I should have allowed for postage delays when mail has to travel long distance. When I explained I had renewed the tax disc online and that even if I had of posted it distance would not be an issuse as I can see the DVLA building, in Morriston, from my house (I would have to lean out of the bathroom window but I could if I wanted to). Some muttering about, "Well it takes time for mail to get across Swansea as well you know" and that was that.

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every three months

We had four cars off road at once (well two cars a pickup and a morothome).

We SORNed the lot every three months as the rules were changed to insist that you must ensure th sorn is conrifmed two weeks before the vehicle is due to go off road- - well that is how they interpret the rules when fining you.

We started every six months but moved to every three months as the DVLA lose one in every five SORN notifications (even though we pay for registered delivery and keep the slips and print the delivery confirmation screens). If they lose two concurrently we get a fine which we go through the process of contesting.

So, my *strong* advice is to SORN every few months - it *massively* increases DVLA paperwork but reduces the risk you take over thjier incompetence.

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RW
Alien

The solution is called "a postmark"

I used to work in a government department which had fairly strict statutory restrictions on its efforts. One was that notices of a certain type had to be mailed by a certain date, and the interpretation section of the act specified that "to mail" means to deliver into the hands of Canada Post. One (typically stupid) manager thrust these important notices into an mail bag of the government's in-house mail system just before the deadline.

The courts rightly held that the requirement had not been satisfied and that this particular batch of notices was therefore deemed not to have been sent in accordance with the law.

Funny thing, but we seem to take the law more seriously out here in the colonies than in the motherland.

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Anonymous Coward

DVLA - funnily enough they are looking for me too

Sold my rather knackered Megane to a scrap dealer back in 2004, they guy signed the bottom of the paperwork and I posted my bit off.

I decided to check the license number about 2 years ago, and lo and behold it's still showing as an untaxed vehicle.

So not only has my paperwork gone walkabout, the scrappy apparently hasn't informed them of it's destruction (and believe me, it must must have been destroyed, the headlamp bulbs were the only thing worth more than 2p on it).

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Anonymous Coward

dvla

I just received the confirmation of sale of my old car from the DVLA despite having sold it in May and immediately putting the slip in the post, though the post box was 2 miles from the DVLA office so maybe I should allow for the delay in that.

As for the online system, I did try to get a replacement licence for my old falling apart paper one only when I rang they said there was a problem. Their approach it seemed was if there's a problem I'll get in touch with them if they ignore it for long enough. Their solution was to print off the online form post it to me to sign and post back to them, you couldn't make it up. They also tried to fine my wife for late renewal on a car she'd taxed online, after she'd rung them up to complain where the tax disc was when she hadn't received it.

I'm convinced that their systems were designed by the same sadistic bastard that set up their automated phone menu's

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Anonymous Coward

@sorn really pisses me off.

Isn't it funny, you're not doing anything wrong, yet you get a fine for not TELLING THEM you're not doing anything wrong.

The whole of the UK is like this now.

I can't wait till that lot are voted out.

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Anonymous Coward

they're part of the government

It's the DVLA, a government department, if they have broken the law they will get away with it, they may have to correct their actions for the future but no one is going to lose their job over it and nor will the agency be fined.

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Unhappy

DVLA employees

Another group to add to the growing list of collaborators & criminals to be put up against the wall before long...

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SORN you couldn't make it up

SORN a scheme to make it a crime to not regularly inform the government that you are not going to commit some other crime....

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legal privilege ?

What the blazes is that ? The right to not tell a victim why he's being shafted ?

Ridiculous. There is no such thing as "legal privilege" in a democracy. The law is the same for everyone.

Oh wait, we're talking about the UK ? Sorry, my bad.

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Coat

Government department?

<pedant>

The DVLA is actually an "executive agency", not a government department (the clue is in the name, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). This makes it responsible to the Department of Transport, but it is actually at arms length from direct ministerial control. The DoT and Parliment make policy and statute, and the management structure of the executive determines how this policy will be carried out (at least in theory).

This makes it interesting in the case of some of the security leaks from executive agencies, as in theory, the management of the agency should resign as being responsible, not the ministers.

</pedant>

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