Covid Court Fine Help

Hi All,

Over a year ago I was socialising in wales with a group of 5 people when the rules prohibited it - I completely take responsibility for this and accept wrongdoing.

The police arrived and took our details to give us a £30 fine.  I offered to pay this fine on the spot but was told I’d receive this in the post.

Fast forward 6-8 months and I received a letter from the Courts for a £1700-2000 fine.  The letter had the incorrect first name on and I called the number to explain the situation.  I explained that I accept wrongdoing and offered to pay the fine etc at the time.  I also checked with friends who said they paid £30 fines months previously.  I explained to the courts that I was happy to pay this fine but never received it like others did.  I was told I could appeal and sent an appeal letter off. 

I have heard nothing more about this but this morning I received a letter from the courts for a £2000 fine which says they have contacted my employers payroll department and it will be deducted from my wages.  As I say I totally accept responsibility and was happy to pay the fine.  I am really worried about this and genuinely can not afford for this to come out of wages to afford to live.  Added to the double standards in the press over the last few months I feel very angry but also seriously stressed about this.

Is there anything I can do about this? I would be more than happy to pay the original fine or an increase of say £100 etc but I really can not afford £2000 and have not had appropriate communication.

Thank you in advance for any advice.
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Replies

  • zx81zx81 Forumite
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    What was the maximum fine for your offence at the time?
  • Jeremy535897Jeremy535897 Forumite
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    Talk to a solicitor.
  • MalMonroeMalMonroe Forumite
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    Hi, this seems crazy. Are you sure that the court letters you are receiving are genuine?

    What I would do in your position would be to contact the police force that issued the Fixed Penalty Notice (I'm assuming that's what you were all given?) and explain everything as you have done in your post. Ask them to explain why the matter for you has escalated to such a high fine when your friends were able to just pay the small fine before now. Also ask if they have any idea why your appeal letter has been ignored.

    I'd send a copy of that to the court as well. By post and by email and I'd phone them too, just for good measure.

    You could also try writing to the press. They love a good story of injustice. Your local newspapers, the local free newspapers, The Guardian, any one you fancy. 

    I'd also have a word with my employer - embarrassing as it may be - if you can explain the situation it may be possible for them to halt any deduction from your salary until the matter is officially and legally sorted out. 

    It's really strange that the courts have taken this action without there having been any hearing or any other communication with you. Courts don't usually go straight to fines without any prior action having been taken or without any judge having imposed the amount. It's all a bit random.

    The police, for this fairly minor offence could actually just have dispersed your small crowd anyway and told you just to all go home. That's what happened in my city - but I'm in England.

    You made a mistake, yes but you know it and owned up to it. Please don't let that put you off fighting for your rights. You offered to pay but were not allowed to. 

    Citizens Advice may also be able to help too with free advice about legal help. 


    N.B.
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  • JCS1JCS1 Forumite
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    MalMonroe said:
    Hi, this seems crazy. Are you sure that the court letters you are receiving are genuine?

    What I would do in your position would be to contact the police force that issued the Fixed Penalty Notice (I'm assuming that's what you were all given?) and explain everything as you have done in your post. Ask them to explain why the matter for you has escalated to such a high fine when your friends were able to just pay the small fine before now. Also ask if they have any idea why your appeal letter has been ignored.

    I'd send a copy of that to the court as well. By post and by email and I'd phone them too, just for good measure.

    You could also try writing to the press. They love a good story of injustice. Your local newspapers, the local free newspapers, The Guardian, any one you fancy. 

    I'd also have a word with my employer - embarrassing as it may be - if you can explain the situation it may be possible for them to halt any deduction from your salary until the matter is officially and legally sorted out. 

    It's really strange that the courts have taken this action without there having been any hearing or any other communication with you. Courts don't usually go straight to fines without any prior action having been taken or without any judge having imposed the amount. It's all a bit random.

    The police, for this fairly minor offence could actually just have dispersed your small crowd anyway and told you just to all go home. That's what happened in my city - but I'm in England.

    You made a mistake, yes but you know it and owned up to it. Please don't let that put you off fighting for your rights. You offered to pay but were not allowed to. 

    Citizens Advice may also be able to help too with free advice about legal help. 

    If there is an attachment of earnings, the employer has to legally apply it.  They cannot pick and choose if they apply it or not!
  • Nebulous2Nebulous2 Forumite
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    Where were you socialising? 

    I'm not sure about Wales, but there were much higher fines for people who organised an event than for those attending it. 
  • edited 9 January at 9:06AM
    onashoestringonashoestring Forumite
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    edited 9 January at 9:06AM
    Was this your first / only Health Protection fixed penalty notice issued ? If you received more than one , the amount increases with each subsequent fine .

    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/wsi/2020/1219/part/8/made
  • ciderboy2009ciderboy2009 Forumite
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    I would suggest that you go into the court and find out exactly what is going on asap.  In particuar you need to know why the amount is so high - it sounds like this has gone to court as you didn't respond to the original FPN and charges have been added as it's proceeded.

    It's odd that you've received some of the letters from the court but not all of them but it's possible that the initial letters were sent to a different address and your actual address was only identified when they attempted to enforce.

    If this is the case then you would probably be able to complete a statutory declaration which would normally take the case back to the beginning again.

    The important thing is not to wait to hear back from the court - chase them every week if necessary to find out what's going on.

  • sherambersheramber Forumite
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    Were you  the organiser ?
  • joseffoliver97joseffoliver97 Forumite
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    Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply so far. A couple of things -

    Socialising in Cardiff, Wales.
    I was not the organiser.
    This was my first and only fine.

  • MattMattMattUKMattMattMattUK Forumite
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    Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply so far. A couple of things -

    Socialising in Cardiff, Wales.
    I was not the organiser.
    This was my first and only fine.
    It would seem from the information you have provided that the fine should not be as large as it is. If it were merely unpaid there would have been enforcement action taken, but the total cost would be lower, you would also have received correspondence from the courts long before a judgement was issued against you. Fines for that amount were only for event organisers, or repeat offenders.

    Can you post pictures of the correspondence you have received with personal details redacted?
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