Monday, July 26, 2004

Er… there’s a law against it!

Earlier this month, as recounted on this Blog, I received a happy little missive from the DVLA demanding £80 for being late taxing my car. This is of course a new impost by the regulatory authorities who have long failed to enforce the law, resulting in an estimated 1,000,000 untaxed and uninsured vehicles on the road.

Now conscious of the scale of money slipping from their grasp, the authorities therefore decided to get a grip of the situation - not by actually getting out on the streets and picking up the tax evaders, but by creating a new charge for everyone, if they fail to get to the post office on time.
Anyhow, by an almost comical set of circumstances, I was late in getting my tax, but not least because the car spent two weeks in the garage being repaired, which delayed me getting an MOT.

Having sent a letter to the DVLA, explaining the circumstances, together with the documents and a cheque, I received almost by return of post, a tax disc, suitably backdated, which is what I asked them to do.

For one moment, I thought, sense had prevailed. But, oh no. I had reckoned without the mind of the bureaucrat… especially when there is a chance of easy money.

In the post I have received another letter, this one from a Mrs P Woolley, Enforcement Manager, pointing out that although I have paid my full tax, I still owe them another £80 for being late - or £40 if I cough up quick. If the car was going to be off the road – which indeed it was – I should have sent a SORN declaration (notwithstanding that I did not know it was going to be off the road).

Anyhow, it may come as a surprise to some, but there is a law against this sort of thing. It is called The Bill of Rights of 1689. And it is still in force. Accordingly, I have sent my own happy little note to the said Mrs P Woolley, which I reproduce below. I will let you know how I get on.

Mrs P Woolley
Enforcement Manager
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
Continuous Registration Centre
3rd Floor Riverside House
Riverside Way
Northampton, NN1 5WW
24 July 2004


I write with reference to your letter of 21 July and your demand that I make a payment of £40/80 to the DVLA as a penalty for late payment of vehicle excise duty.

In response, may I refer you to the Bill of Rights 1689, this being an Act "Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown". I am sure you are aware that this states, inter alia, "That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void".

You may also be aware that the Bill of Rights remains on the statute book and has not been repealed, and is therefore still in force. Furthermore, in the absence of any specific subsequent Act, directly and specifically repealing the above-quoted provision, you may not rely on the principle of implied repeal, the Bill being a constitutional Act.

On this basis, given that I have not yet been convicted in respect of any matter relating to the payment or non-payment of vehicle excise duty, any demand for payment of a penalty is, as set out by the Bill, "illegal and void".

Unless you are able to cite me a valid authority, by which you can demonstrate unequivocally that your demand is in fact legal, therefore, I am advised that I am in no way obligated to comply with your demand.

Yours faithfully,

Richard North (Dr)


At 11:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting Dr North...... I wonder what the ramifacations are across the board here for all government forfitures before trial even in high profile cases. I would imagine that a subject would then be allowed to use his/her asset base to finance a defence for court action.

Shaun Bourke.

At 9:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

go for it dad!!!! :)


At 1:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like Mrs P Wooley has moved to Alhambra House in Glasgow, unless her collection of payments has enabled her to reside in two places! And yes, you can guess that I too am the lucky recipient of one of her letters. Do they actually talk to the DVLA to find out if you've got a vehicle taxed or not? It doesn't look like it, anyway. It's an outrage! Local post offices are dying out and the ones in which you can get a tax disc have opening hours no reasonable working wo/man can make and if you miss the Saturday morning slot twice, because the police are around every corner trying to catch you travelling at 5 mph faster than the sign says, you end up with one of Mrs Wooley's letters. Thank you very much indeed! What makes me think I would have been better off not paying my road tax for the last 20 years.
Anyway, have you researched whether the 168..? act is not ammended by the Road Vehicles Regulations 2002?
Hope you succeed!

At 8:13 pm, Blogger Paul said...

I'm all for the vehicle database system as a means to catch road tax evaders but they certainly could run it a lot better. I think rather than sending out an extortionate fine the second you are overdue, they should send out a reminder after a week and then fine you if you haven't done anything about it after 2 weeks. I'm sure the world isn't going to fall apart if you drive around in an untaxed car for 2 weeks!

At 1:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a bad try Dr. North. Looks like you've done a fair bit of investigating. I'm afraid that this defence would not be viable though as this fine is both a 'State of Affairs' and 'Strict Liability' offence, therefore making an allowance for such instances. In addition, the judiciary has the power to use statutory interpretation to use or preclude any statute that they want. In addition, I would refer you to readings from 'Statutes in Action' which highlights repeals and part repeals. You should be aware also that subsequent Acts are able to ammend previous laws without express repeals. If you would like to pursue some sort of defence, i would urge you to make use of the far reaching Human Rights Act 1998 - The provisions within this Act for privacy and rights of fair trials are something that can be used in black letter law. Whether they will work in practice is yet to be seen - the privacy issues in relation to speed camera fines are now being discussed in the ECJ (who will give their opinio on the legalities of such things in due course).

I hope that this has been of some assistance.
Kind regards,
Steven Baynes (Barrister)

At 10:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting enough I too have received one of these fraudulent attempts to obtain money by deception. In my case I retaxed the vehicle in time.One month later having bought a new car I declared sorn at a local P.O. later sending my tax disc back to DVLA and receiving a partial refund.

Now I have had the standard letter, demanding money and threatening legal action.

I DO still have the transaction receipts from the PO, plus the refund paid into my bank will provide some degree of audit trail.

To my mind there is an absolute case that the Data protection act has been broken, the information they are holding is definitely NOT accurate, but im also wondering whether I can push a case for fraudulently obtaining money through deception, or demanding money with menaces or possibly extortion or malicious prosecution.

It is my current plan to track down an individual, then make a formal complaint to the police, bringing about as much embarrassment and negative publicity as possible.

I am guessing that Mrs P Woolley is probably a generic name added to these letters and is unlikely exist.

Thoughts anyone?

At 3:04 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further to my last post. Visited the local DVLA offices, who were quite helpful. Mrs Woolley IS a real person who is Head of the whole Enforcement operation - she works out of Swansea



At 5:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further still - talked to my old man, who once had a dispute with a company of a similar nature and his solicitor wrote a letter suggesting that this was either

A ) a deliberate attempt to fraudulently obtain monies and therefore subject to the theft act or

B ) an error due to inadequate record keeping and subject to the companies act.

The solicitors letter stated that failure to answer satisfactorarily would result in my father presenting his evidence to CID at a specific time and place.

So is the DVLA subject to laws on inadequate record keeping? Anyone with any ideas?

At 3:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steven Baynes (Barrister) is wrong and maybe its time we had MOT's for Barristers as well as Doctors.

This approach dose work and I have the cancelled cheque on my office wall. see here

good luck

At 4:07 pm, Blogger Paul said...

Well done and good luck! When, rather than if, you prove successful, what's the betting the fatherless, sexually self sufficient little s****s who lord it over us, will repeal the ancient law?
I'm reminded of the attempts to get around the original poll tax when purchasing a few shares in a Cornish tin min was said to make you exempt from paying same.
Ancient laws never replealed etc.

Remember NO government is better than this government :-)

At 9:35 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good stuff.

We need to know the final outcome of your battle(s).

At 6:48 pm, Blogger Steve Black said...

The reason that the barrister is wrong is simply because he is brainwashed, it was done by when he went to law school they say, note there is no written english constitution, this is a pack of lies it has been done deliberatly to allow our gov.'s to use all kinds of tactics to undermine the bill of rights coronation oath magnacarta, Blackstones commentries clearly remarks that our WRITTEN CONSTITUTION stands entire. This is the official law lords bible, but they are deliberatly trying to claim that Magna, Bill of Rights are old This is not so. the only way to change our Bill of Rights is to have a civil war! To the barrister when you have finished your career you may like to do some independant research please do it now there is much at stake. Also look at
And SPREAD THE WORD we do not want a civil war but we cannot alow us to become a dictatorship.
Steve Black

At 11:12 pm, Anonymous kcsefalvay said...

To say that British constitution is 'unwritten' is, strictly, incorrect, since most of what is of constitutional effect in Britain is, in some way or another, written down somewhere. However, Britain doesn't have a single body of law that is the sole source of constitution (in contrary to most European civil law jurisdictions, e.g. Germany, which has the Grundgesetz, or Hungary, which has the Bill XX/1949.). The term mostly used for the British constitution is 'uncodified', which does not imply unwrittenness, but simultaneously explains absence of a single constitutional act.
Instead, it has several major sources of constitutional law. First, the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights (which Mr. Black was kind enough to mention), the Statutes of Westminster and the Acts of Union (which he wasn't). Then, there are so-called constitutional conventions (which are mostly unwritten), and various checks between branches of government.
Blackstone does not refer to a 'written' British constitution in this sense a single time, so Mr. Black has the burden of proof for this claim. Besides, without indulging into ad hominem arguments, your clear view of legal reality seems to be eclipsed by your political conviction, a quite bad start for a civil war.

At 5:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone give me a little advise? I am being taken to court for keeping a car without tax. I made a SORN but whilst I was away my tenant took the car shopping and it was spotted out. I only learnt of the offense when DVLA wrote to me some months later. Should I just pay up? Or do I have a reasonable defense? After all I did not even know about it!

At 5:12 pm, Anonymous Phil said...

She's after me too! I sent a letter appealing to her better nature and they claimed never to have received it. This time I have sent a copy by recorded delivery after the £80 court action letter appeared on my doorstep. Lets hope this does something. Phil

At 10:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I taxed my car and then one month later bought a new car. i filled out form V14 to reclaim the tax. I can't remember if I signed the bottom part to declare sorn. I too have now recieved a £40 fine plus arrears of duty with no prior warning. But surley when you fill in the form to get a tax refund ths DVLA should send out 1 reminder letter to be fair.

At 9:42 pm, Anonymous Daryl said...

Dr north - quality site - its true there are way more of us than there are of them...

Anyhoo, i am currently facing court after i denied all knowledge of my SORN-declared car being 'in-use' in my residential steet in Epsom, Surrey. Myself I'm from the North East but i live in Epsom through my occupation. Here is my tale of woe...

My Peugeot 205 engine blew itself up and i bought a replacement Pug, intending to transplant most of the good bits from the old one to the new. Time/Money/etc constrained such actions to a minimum, well to a non-existent actually. I left the car in a private car park which belonged to my then-rented property for a couple of months. I subsequently moved house, but left the car where it was until such convinient time came to move it - this 'convinient' time was nudged along by a disgruntled ex-landlord. He was a nice guy, and i duly moved it into my new street for a week.

Now in my opinion, some snobby cutain-twitching busy body has shopped me to the law (that of the DVLA) and the inimitable Mrs P Wooley ever-so-politely prescribed me a fine for £87. Skint and reticent, i politley denied the car had ever been parked there, and cited that i had always followed the law, hence my SORN declaration some months previous. Ra ra bloody ra. Mrs Wooley then wrote again to thank me for my letter but to point out i was still liable for the fine of £87. I wrote back to her stating that i was at a loss to explain why the remains of my old car should ever have even been connected to my new house as it had NEVER BEEN near to it.
(It is worth mentioning here that when the engine went pop, it went POP. i.e. that car would not move until a new engine had been installed. So to suggest the car was 'in use' was preposterous...)

To stop this becoming a boring tale, my final retort pointed to the fact that my new residential street operates restricted parking during day-time hours. Now had an officer of the law, or a traffic warden informed the DVLA, he/she would also have administered a penalty charge for illegal parking, probably before even noticing the lack of tax disc.
In my eyes this suggests a curtain-twitcher is to blame for the unwanted DVLA correspondance. However, today, the same day my housemate lost his job(!), i get a sletter stating a summons will be following shortly.

Given my circumstances - can anyone advise me of the best course of action, bearing in mind i DO NOT want to pay a fine for my (now scrapped) beloved 205GTi? Also if said saint could explain my legal position I would be most grateful. i am an acoutic consultant by trade so any musical/noise/vibration issues you may have i will eagerly help with free of charge!!

Your Sincerely
Daryl Thompson

At 6:00 am, Anonymous Andy said...

Dr North - What was the outcome of your reply to Mrs Woolley?

At 12:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you tried to ring the number on the letter?
...It doesn't work! ...!

At 9:13 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A whole lot of lies on here.

Why can't one of you be honest about how long your vehicle was unlicenced for?

The penalties are automatically issued after 2 months, so to say you missed the post office two weeks running, is a total lie.

I also notice that Dr North never gave any details of how his wonderful response resulted in the penalty being withdrawn? Did you cough up in the end?

At 2:35 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...


On 28/02/06 I was in a car accident which wrote off my car, I sent the salvage details and new owner details to the DVLA a week later as required.

2 weeks ago, I received a court summons for the £80 that the DVLA is fining me for not declaring SORN for the car, that was written off and sold and all details sent to the DVLA. If it goes to court, £20.00 court charges will be added.

I have been given the opportunity to defend this claim, which I have done and also enclosed a copy of my charges, which I have set at £45.00 p.h. (I do get this rate normally as I am a self employed programmer). I have also advised the court that I will be charging the DVLA £22.50 for filling in the defense forms as they took me 1/2 an hour of working time.

I sent an invoice to the DVLA for the amount and my business charges documentation, as well as a quote for attending court - including hourly charge, not to forget travel expenses too

I received an email from the DVLA requesting what my licence plate was, even though it is clearly stated in all correspondance, of which I have invoiced them again for providing, as well as providing the information - how silly is that btw.

I have photocopies of all the docs I sent to the DVLA originally, including new owners registration,accident report etc. So am quite happy to go to court against the DVLA and will win. I will also quite happily take the DVLA to court if they refuse payment of my invoices.

I for one do not believe in the SORN law as it is ludicrous, by asking law-abiding citizens to declare vehicles off-road, even though they are clearly off the road is tantamount to asking a person to go to a police station and state that they have commited no crimes today. Whatever happened to innocent till proven guilty?

An SORN application may be free, but think of the time it takes to complete, buy a stamp and pop it in the postbox. In my opinion anyone declaring SORN should bill the DVLA for the postage and time taken out to fill in the form and post, or give to a post office clerk.


At 2:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...


There are a few laws you can utilise:

1) Innocent till proven guilty - this is a tenet of the law, the burden of proof lies on the prosecutor.

2) Various trade description acts - for example, if you bought a fridge freezer from hotpoint in 1998 there is no law in which you have to report to hotpoint or any other organisation when it stops working outside of the warranty.
Plus this raises the question, do the DVLA provide a lifetime warranty on cars then, if they argue oagainst the trade description acts.

3) Road tax itself - what does it cover? For example you may want to go down the A1, but it is in a state of disrepair , does this mean road tax is invalid as they are not providing a service?

4) related to above, say you have a swing for the kids in your garden, do you have to pay tax for it? When they grow up/stop using it, do you have to declare said swing out of use?

5) This is the clincher - most tax is voluntary (which the government don't want you to know about), Income tax is voluntary, so is car tax etc. VAT is the one that gets me, as it is compulsary.

Hope that all helps

At 4:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My car was written off in an accident. The insurance company told me to send them all the vehicle documents. They said I could get a refund for the tax disc. They notified us on the 28th of April and came to pick up the car on the 2nd of May. Since I wanted to reclaim as much tax as possible (whole months only allowed), I told my wife to apply for a refund. The tear off section at the bottom of the form says that SORN does not apply if the vehicle is to be scrapped. So, she didn't fill it in. We have now been fined £80 for not renewing the tax disc. And asked to repay £29. No explanation is given for this.
I'm guessing that we are being asked to return £29 because SORN was not declared for 3 days before the car was picked up?
Even if the form should have been filled in to declare SORN, common sense should have told them that a refund is being sought because the vehicle is no longer in use!

At 4:26 pm, Anonymous Unknown said...

This is a fault of your insurance company, they've obviously failed to notify the DVLA you no longer have the vehicle.

I do wonder where people's argument lies with these penalties, as my V5C tells me that I am responsible for the vehicle until I notify the DVLA otherwise, and then it is up to me to chase up a letter of confirmation. If you gave you certificate to your insurance company, surely you've failed to tell the DVLA you no longer have the vehicle, so why should you not be responsible?

I'd personally be pissed off if I got hit by a car and nobody could trace the driver because people hadn't notified the DVLA that it had changed owner.

At 10:26 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Richard. I only questioned this letter because of the poor production of it. I believed it to be a hoax and therefore set out today to determine if it had any grounding. I now have your response printed out and ready to send.

I will now toast you with a large glass of red tonight.

gratefully yours kay

At 6:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only one to have suffered at the hands of the DVLA. My car failed its MOT and 3 days later I sold it to a person in the motor trade for scrap. I sent the tax disc off to get a refund, along with the V5 document stating that I was no longer the registered keeper of the vehicle. A month later (after I had received the tax refund) I received a notice for non-payment of car tax requiring me to pay £80. I have disputed this as I sent the V5 recorded delivery and on using the Royal Mail's tracking service I have discovered that it did indeed reach its intended destination. I am currently in the middle of sitting my finals and I feel the stress of this is detrimental to my health! Any ideas of what I could say to get them to back down???


At 10:54 pm, Blogger KIWI said...

I failed to re-declare my sorn, and have received the letter of demand for £80..The DVLA have blackmailed me by offering to reduce this ampount in half if I pay by such and such a date...I wrote back telling them I had moved house, etc...No reminder letters arrived, even though I forwarded my mail and my previous landlord has kept all my letters and given them to me...I just received a letter telling me to pay up....What can anyone advise on here?

At 2:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish the spammer above would simply booger off.

At 2:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im sorry, but most of the above comments are complete trash. Read your paper work and u might make sense of it, and road tax, is compulsery to the tool who said it isnt.

If u want my advice, unless you have a decent excuse, just pay the fines, its cheaper then going to court.


At 4:08 pm, Anonymous Marie Taylor said...

Absolutely fascinating -Go for it Mr. North. I wa sjust in the middle of looking for something whilst writing my second letter to Leeds city Council whose agents the bailiffs have snt me a demand for £18 threatening criminal charges, prison and bancruptcy for non payment of a so called debt which is in fact their charge for sending out a bailiff to "look at my house from the outside " to assess my ability to pay a council tax bill from my father's estate ( he died last year). This follows a pre magistrates demand from the bailiff which has been paid. I am claining the fee back from the council as they didnot issue a bill i the first instance. I think the bailiff letter amounts to demanding monies with menaces but maybe the Human Rights Act may be a better route if I don't receive satisfaction from the council. Thanks for the tips in these postings!

At 8:31 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi to all,

Here is a little DVLA story to wet your appetite. I sold a car over a year ago and sent the tear off slip off to DVLA. About a month ago I received one of these failure to notify letters from them demanding £35 from me or £55 if I failed to pay within 2 weeks. I contacted them informing them that I had fulfilled my legal obligation to them by sending off the V5 and hit them with some other legal jargon. This week I got a letter back stating that they are putting the case on hold while they investigate the alleged offence, (presumably what the new owner had committed?)The date of the offence they have now put in writing to me was the date that I was the registered keeper! and they are chasing money from me for failure to notify ? Also I never committed any offence during my ownership of the car and certainly if I had, i'm sure that within the last 18 months I would have heard something from some powers that be? Its a scam people and please do'nt fall for this if you get caught up in it, fight them all the way. They have now got all of their dates wrong and so this would never stand up in court.

At 8:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

statute laws only apply to persons you should find out what the difference is between a person and a human being legally speaking, any way back to the matter you will see that your name is in capital letters this is your legal fictuos name they give you at birth so they can prosecute the person through statute law because statue law can not prosecute a human being of flesh and blood this is what they dont want you to know for alot more indepth inform,ation goto i could go on and let you know how to get away with it but you will find out alot more looking yourself and how to get away with alot more ie,parking fines cause there a contract , council tax,car insurance, car tax, ect

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