Leading lawyers for fare evasion seeking to avoid a criminal conviction
Over the years we have dealt with a vast number of clients who have been prosecuted for relatively minor offences but for whom the consequences of a conviction are enormous. We regularly act for professionals and have many years experience of representing doctors, medical professionals, other lawyers, teachers, FCA regulated professionals, and high net worth individuals.
Often defendants attend court assuming that they must enter a guilty plea and then deal with the potentially far reaching consequences. They may feel that they have to plead guilty quite simply because they are guilty. Even when there appears to be evidence of guilt, it may be possible to argue against prosecution and ask for a view to be taken on the basis of public interest grounds.
Transport For London (TFL) has an aggressive prosecution policy when it comes to fare evasion. At Olliers we regularly see cases of clients being summoned to court over unpaid fares for very low amounts. The most common cases involving fare evasion involve the use of another person’s Oyster Card to obtain the benefit of reduced or free travel. Other examples include travelling on a ticket which does not cover the entire journey, not tapping in or simply being without a valid ticket for the journey.
Detailed and sympathetic representations should be considered by TFL and other rail authorities in all situations where the defence make such representations. They can make the difference between a conviction, perhaps for a minor offence, but with unintended yet life altering consequences and no conviction at all.
What is fare evasion?
A person might be accused of travelling with intent to avoid paying a fare if they:
- Did not purchase a ticket and subsequently travel without a ticket;
- Intentionally avoid a ticket inspector;
- Travel on a ticket issued to another person such as a student Oyster Card, Freedom Pass or other type of discounted travel card;
- Intentionally travel further than the ticket allows them to;
- Deliberately pass through ticket barriers without paying; or
- Travel in a first-class carriage, when only purchasing a standard ticket.
What happens if you’re accused of fare evasion?
Transport for London and other rail authorities usually write to an individual suspected of fare evasion, asking them to respond to the allegation. They will then consider whether to prosecute. If they do decide to prosecute, you should receive a summons or postal requisition in the post, providing a date when the matter will be heard at court. Often these cases are dealt with by way of Single Justice Procedure (SJP). The documentation will ask whether a person intends to plead guilty or not guilty and will usually provide an option to enter your plea by post.
In some cases where longer term fare evasion is alleged, for example using a Freedom Pass over an extended period of time, Transport for London may seek to conduct a voluntary interview under caution. We always advise seeking legal representation for such interview and Olliers are able to attend such interview with you.
Will I obtain a criminal record for fare evasion?
If you are charged with evading a TfL fare, it is a “strict liability” offence. That means your intention makes no difference, for example, if you say you made a mistake and you intended to pay. If you plead guilty or are found guilty it will result in a criminal record.
TfL prosecutes under railway bye-laws. Convictions under bye-laws are not recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC) and so will not normally show up on a standard DBS Check. However, they may still show on an enhanced disclosure.
If you were travelling on a non-TfL rail service, you are likely to be prosecuted under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889. To successfully prosecute, the rail company will need to prove that you intended to avoid paying the fare. So, if you have a ticket for at least part of your journey or offered to pay the fare when you were stopped, it would help your case. However, some rail companies do prosecute under railway bye-laws.
A criminal conviction can negatively impact on employment opportunities, particularly for those in regulated sectors or with professional regulators and can impact visa applications to some countries.
How can Olliers Solicitors help me?
Olliers have significant experience of representing those accused of fare evasion. We have a high level of success in disposing of such cases by way of out of court settlements and thus avoiding a criminal record for our clients.
We can assist with the following:
- Consideration of documentation and advice
- Representations to TFL/other fare authorities to settle out of court and thus avoid prosecution
- Attending an interview under caution
We are usually able to agree a fixed fee for this type of work to cover drafting representations to the relevant fare authority and will be able to provide an accurate quotation for your case if you contact us.
Olliers do not undertake such work on a legally aided basis and can only be instructed on a privately funded basis.
- Big thank you to Ruth and Team at Olliers! Fantastic service from them. Ruth was confident, knowledgeable but most importantly very compassionate to the sensitive problems we had. I would have no problem recommending Ruth to anyone. Thank you Ruth for all your help, I sincerely mean that!
- Thank you so much. I turned to Olliers when I was very worried about how to proceed. The team was fantastic and suggested a course of action which was implemented very quickly. The case was resolved in a very short space of time with a fantastic outcome. I am delighted with the outcome and wholeheartedly recommend Olliers. Thank you again.
- 2022 – A client was stopped by a Govia Thameslink ticket inspector after accidentally travelling on a train further than his ticket allowed. He was summonsed to court. A criminal conviction would have had disastrous consequences for him and his wife. This is because the couple were unable to conceive a child and so they were in the process of adopting through the International Adoption Centre. A conviction would have caused serious difficulties in this. Representations were submitted to Govia Thameslink explaining how the consequences of a prosecution would be disproportionate to the harm that the clients offending had caused. After considering our representations the rail provider discontinued the case.
- 2022 – A law student stopped by a TfL ticket inspector for using his younger sisters (childrens 11-15) Oystercard whilst travelling to his part time job. Subsequent investigation by TfL discovered that the pass had been used for similar journeys on a number of occasions. The client was summonsed to court and sent his own letter apologising and asking not to be prosecuted and this was rejected. Following this he instructed Olliers. We submitted a letter of comprehensive representations and were able to convince TfL it was not in the public interest to prosecute him.
- 2022 – Financial Analyst intern travelled by rail further than her ticket allowed her to do so. She was stopped by a South Eastern ticket inspector who discovered her underpayment and she was subsequently summonsed to court. Olliers were able to head off the prosecution by submitting a detailed and persuasive correspondence to the rail provider, convincing them that the matter could be resolved by the payment of the value of the avoided fare plus any legal expenses.
- 2021 – Client convicted of fare evasion in her absence after summons sent to an old address. Submission of a statutory declaration to the court and representations to the rail authority resulted in the case being re-opened by the court and withdrawn by the rail authority. Case was settled out of court by payment of legal costs to the rail authority.
- 2021 – Representations submitted on behalf of a finance professional followed by a PACE interview resulted in case involving a multiple incidents of fare evasion being settled out of court by payment of costs and value of fares avoided.
- 2020 – Representations against prosecution made to TFL following receipt by our medical professional client of a Single Justice Procedure Notice. TFL discontinued case following consideration of representations drafted by Olliers and client avoided court and a criminal conviction.
- 2020– Representations made to rail authority that the matter should be disposed of by way of out of court settlement. Successful outcome meaning client avoided court and a criminal conviction.
Contact our Fare Evasion Lawyers
Please contact our new enquiry team to discuss your case and how Olliers can assist you.