I am not, by nature, an angry person. Indeed, I pass most days with a fairly cheery demeanour because I’m a very lucky individual who has a reasonably good standard of living, a good level of education and a moral compass, a healthy family and a nice home. These are things I take time out to appreciate every day, along with the collection of old chod that I lovingly refer to as my car collection.
But today, I’m angry. I’m angry because a Government department (namely the DVLA) thinks it has the right to ride roughshod over the little man, and I’ve been on the receiving end. Unlike thousands of other victims of what I consider to be extortion, however, I have decided to fight this one – not because the thirty-five quid the DVLA are trying to pry off me would make the difference between food in the fridge or not, but because for many less fortunate people, who may indeed be too worried or scared to defend themselves, it could.
Here’s the background. Back in March, I sold a lovely old Peugeot 205 to a friend. Let’s call him Richard Gunn, as quite a few of you will probably know who he is anyway. As usual, I sent off the V5C to the DVLA as soon as I sold the car, as I have done hundreds of times before and will do hundreds of times again, I’m sure.
I thought nothing more of it until two weeks ago, when I received a demand to pay a fine of fifty-five pounds, reduced to thirty-five if I coughed up quickly, for ‘Failure to Notify Disposal of a Vehicle’. My V5C, it seems, had disappeared either in the post, or possibly under a huge heap of other envelopes at DVLA HQ – after all, March is the busiest month of the year for our friends in Swansea. Just saying…
I filled in the appeal form, giving the date of transfer and new keeper details as requested, assuming this would explain that the V5C had simply got lost in the post, and by keeping the new keeper details I was, indeed, being a responsible motorist. But no.
Yesterday, I received a standard letter, apparently ‘sent without signature’ from the DVLA saying this wasn’t good enough, and that it was incumbent on me to ensure they’d received the V5C. As such, I had just seven days to pay them the smaller of the two amounts, 14 days if I wanted to go for the larger fine, or if not face court proceedings.
So, DVLA, I think I’ll see you in court – nobody likes a bully, least of all me. Unless, of course, you take note of my letter (pasted below) and realise that this practice is downright unfair.
I’m happy to be corrected or hear a different view if anyone has one, so please have a read of the letter below, and let me know what you think. Meantime, I’ll let you know how I get on…
DVLA – Enforcement Centre
Further to your ‘sent unsigned’ letter dated July 10 and regarding your incorrect allegation that I failed to notify the DVLA of the disposal of my Peugeot 205, Dxxx xxx, in March 2014, I write to reiterate the fact that I have no intention of paying this fine, nor any subsequent ‘fine’ that may be pursued on your behalf by a debt collection agency until my case has been represented before a UK court, as is my right as a British Citizen.
As mentioned in my initial appeal, I complied with the wording on the V5C and returned the completed form to you with the new keeper’s details immediately upon selling the vehicle. It is my understanding that failure to notify disposal is considered under UK law to be a criminal offence, and in order to successfully prosecute an individual for such a crime it is incumbent upon the prosecution, and not the defence, to prove that a criminal offence has actually been committed.
If the DVLA can therefore prove I did not fill in, return and send in the V5C pertaining to this vehicle with the new keeper’s details, then like any well-meaning British Citizen I will pay my fine. However, as I know that I took reasonable steps to return the documentation to you, and indeed immediately supplied the new keeper details to you when you did request them, I think any reasonably minded individual would believe I had no criminal intent and indeed had done what was required of me by law in terms of notifying the DVLA.
Interestingly, I note in your correspondence to me that the DVLA ‘issues a letter within 4 weeks of notification’ and that it is a matter for me to pursue this letter. I find that intriguing, as nowhere on the V5C does it say it is my duty to pursue such a letter. If this is the standard by which the DVLA expects the public to conform, might I suggest you state as much on the official documentation so we can take active steps to pursue the letter once we’ve returned the V5C ?
Below are some further legal points I would ask you to consider before determining whether or not to continue pursuing a fine for non-notification.
The Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002
‘Change of keeper: registration document issued in Great Britain on or after 24th March 1997 and the new keeper not a vehicle trader
22. (2) The registered keeper of the vehicle –
(a) if the registration document issued in respect of the vehicle is in his possession, shall deliver to the new keeper that part of the document marked as the part which is to be given to the new keeper; and
(b) shall forthwith deliver the remainder of the registration document to the Secretary of State, duly completed to include the following –
(i) the name and address of the new keeper;
(ii) the date on which the vehicle was sold or transferred to the new keeper;
(iii) a declaration signed by the registered keeper that the details given in accordance with paragraph (i) are correct to the best of his knowledge and that the details given in accordance with paragraph (ii) are correct; and
(iv) a declaration signed by the new keeper that the details given in accordance with paragraphs (i) and (ii) are correct.”
Interpretation Act 1978
7 References to service by post
‘Where an Act authorises or requires any document to be served by post (whether the expression ‘serve” or the expression ‘give” or ‘send” or any other expression is used) then, unless the contrary intention appears, the service is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post.”
As stated in my appeal, I used Royal Mail first class post to ‘deliver” the V5 document which complies with both regulations above.
The DVLA states that I have no defence because I did not receive confirmation from them, yet nowhere on any official paperwork do you declare this confirmation letter from the DVLA is a legal requirement.
As stated in Human Rights Act 1998, Schedule 1, Article 6, section 2
‘Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law. ”
I have no proof of posting the V5 document because I sent it via Royal Mail first class post. The law clearly (as above) states that this is an acceptable way in which to deliver a document, and by using a standard postage stamp I cannot produce a receipt.
I also believe that I should not have to prove that I posted the V5 document and if this matter does indeed go to court it should be down to the DVLA to prove that I did not.
Furthermore, my immediate willingness to provide the new keeper details on request clearly illustrates that I kept an appropriate record of the transfer of ownership (as I do when I sell any vehicle), and am not trying to withhold information from the DVLA.
I look forward to receiving your comments on this matter and would ask that this case is not passed on to an automated debt collection agency as despite previous experience of the DVLA’s reluctance to engage in correspondence regarding alleged ownership offences, I am very keen to continue the dialogue until a fair resolution is reached, be that through direct correspondence or in front of a court of law.
Without prejudice, I should also add that as a national motoring journalist with 20 years’ experience, I will also be looking closely at the DVLA’s reaction to this case and sharing the outcome among numerous outlets within the classic vehicle community, as I believe this issue has the potential to be a highly contentious subject of debate which, despite the DVLA issuing automated fines and strongly worded letters for many years, has perhaps not had the media exposure it has deserved since its inception.