(page updated 1 July 2019)
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MERSEY GATEWAY PENALTIES - STAGE 4 - TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CENTRE - RECOVERY ORDERS
This page describes the stage after the Charge Certificate where Merseyflow have applied to the Traffic Enforcement Centre for a 'Recovery Order'. There is also a version of this information that was prepared in May as a document which covers the whole of the TEC process.
What The Forms Look Like
Try To Protect Your Car
Dealing With Recovery Orders - Filling in the TE forms
Other Options If You Can Not Fill In TE forms
What Happens If You Fail To Stop Recovery Orders.
What The Forms Look Like
TE3 Recovery orders
TE7 Out of time application
TE9 Witness statement
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Drivers are regarded as easy victims and there are MILLIONS of penalties issued that would overwhelm the County Court system. So they have a special County court with no judges- the Northampton Bulk Business Centre that automatically registers debts against drivers. The part of the court that deals with parking and tolls is known as the 'Traffic Enforcement Centre'. They do not normally have hearings.
If you need to speak to them then the court has a help line on 0300 123 1059.
If after 14 days from service of the Charge Certificate, it is unpaid, Halton Council can apply to the Traffic Enforcement Centre to recover the unpaid charge, as if it were payable under a County Court Order. Note that only Halton Council are allowed to do this, but we believe that they have illegally delegated this to one company or other.
Though they have to wait 14 days, it seems that for the earlier ones they waited nearly two months before asking the TEC to authorise the issue of an "Order for recovery of unpaid penalty charge", otherwise known as a TE3.
The minimum gap between receipt of a charge certificate and receipt of the Recovery Order will be about 18 days.
For each crossing the amount payable is now £68 (including £8 for the court's fee) plus the unpaid toll. Note that there may be no unpaid toll as the toll may have been already paid, but paid late.
The TE3 gives another chance to pay and warns you that "If you do nothing your possessions may be removed and sold to pay this charge." So do NOT ignore it.
If you have received a TE3 form, then you should also have been sent TE9 'Witness Statement' forms. These are very important.
Many people that reach the next stage- STAGE FIVE - The Bailiffs may not have received the T3 recovery order, but are still urged by us to if possible complete the TE9 and TE7 forms.
The amount demanded is an extortionate amount for an illegal toll and you may well have got more than one recovery order. The section below shows what to do if you can't pay or decide not to pay.
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Try to protect your car
If you have reached this stage then there is a risk, that whatever you do, the 'debt' enforcers are called in. Unless they can bully or trick you into letting them into your home, the main risk is that they will clamp your car. You have to do something about this risk BEFORE the 'debt' enforcers pay a visit. So have a look at trying to prevent them taking your car and consider transferring the ownership of your car.
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Dealing With Recovery Orders - FILLING IN THE TE9
THE FOLLOWING ALSO APPLIES TO ANYONE WHO HAS REACHED THE LATER STAGE WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN SENT A 'NOTICE OF ENFORCEMENT' AND ARE BEING CHASED BY BAILIFFS.
DO NOT BE PUT OFF BY THE LENGTH OF THESE INSTRUCTIONS. THE SYSTEM HAS BEEN DESIGNED TO PUT PEOPLE OFF FROM FIGHTING THEM. THEY WANT YOU TO PAY, HOWEVER MUCH HARDSHIP IT CAUSES. DO NOT GIVE IN.
Most people will have received at least two sets of TE forms and some people will receive a lot more. We believe that the TEC used to allow the return of just one TE9 (listing all the related PCNs. Whatever used to apply, the TEC now insist on the return of individual forms for each PCN.
The TE9 is a 'Witness Statement' that you can complete. It has various boxes that you can tick.
Tick any box that genuinely applies and send the form back.
You can either do this by post or you can get an electronic copy of the TE9 form from here. Note that if you use the web address that is shown on the TE3 form (www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/tec.htm) it will not work.
Download and save the form. The form can (in theory) be typed on without printing it out. If this does not work, then either print it out or contact them and ask for paper copies of the forms.
You need a TE9 plus TE7 for EVERY PCN, so if you are doing this electronically as you complete each form, you will have to save it as a different file name - such as giving it the number of the PCN. The form needs to be 'signed', you can do this by just typing your name, but if you can then do it in italics or a different font.
If you have either completed the forms electronically or have scanned them after completing them manually then you can then email them to- firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have not got the forms and are not able to download the form then either ring the TEC help line on 0300 123 1059 (there is usually a long wait before you can speak to someone) or email them at email@example.com. Give them your address and ask for a copy of the TE9, it is likely that if you did not already have a TE9 then you are late, so you will also need to ask them for a TE7 'Out of Time' form. You will need to ask for a TE9 plus TE7 for EVERY PCN.
Note that if you get the TE9 form from the TEC then it is a slightly different form from the one that you might have received at the same time as the TE3. The TEC version says 'Dart Charge' which is not meant for the Mersey Gateway but the Traffic Enforcement Centre has not got a form for the Mersey Gateway.
The boxes available to tick on the TE9 form are-
"I did not receive the Penalty Charge Notice."
I made representations about the penalty charge to the Charging Authority concerned, within 28 days of the service of the Penalty Charge Notice, but did not receive a rejection notice.
I appealed to an adjudicator against the Charging Authority's decision to reject my representation, within 28 days of service of the Rejection notice, but have either:
Had no response to the appeal,
The appeal had not been determined by the time that the charge certificate had been served, or
The appeal was determined in my favour.
The penalty charge has been paid in full.
The box that is most likely to apply is that you (as the registered keeper of the vehicle) did not receive the PCNs, possibly because you had a shared postal address, or your partner may not have shown it to you or you have moved address or you may have been away from home long term. Obviously if you have previously been in contact with Merseyflow about the PCN, then you must have received it and you can not say that you did not receive it.
Unfortunately a lot of people may not be able to remember whether they received a PCN and if so then what they did about it.
It is possible that you think you have made a representation to Merseyflow (by post or online) but there is nothing recorded. When you make a representation there is no sure way of proving that you did (or tried to) make a representation as Merseyflow's systems are poor and they do not send you any acknowledgement when you make a representation.
There is another possibility, but there is no box on the form for it. You may NOT have received the Charge Certificate before you got the TE3. The Regulations say that you should have been 'served' with the Charge certificate, if you did not receive one then say so on the form.
You must return the TE9 as soon as you can. If it is delayed beyond the date marked in a box on the front of the TE3 form then you also need to complete the TE7 'Out of time' form and say why you are submitting the forms late.
When you send off the TE forms then inform Merseyflow. If the recovery has not yet reached the bailiffs stage then it should stop that from happening. IF IT HAS REACHED THE BAILIFF STAGE THEN IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU INFORM MERSEYFLOW AND ASK THEM TO SUSPEND THE BAILFF ACTION.
We suggest that you inform Merseyflow by Email- firstname.lastname@example.org .
IF ANY OF THE BOXES ON THE TE9 APPLY AND YOU CAN TICK THEM, THEN THE WHOLE RECOVERY PROCESS IS STOPPED. The TEC will tell Merseyflow to cancel the recovery order and charge certificate.
MERSEYFLOW WILL THEN USUALLY RE-ISSUE THE PCNS. You can either promptly pay the £22 for each PCN or challenge them by making a representation. Note that any representation that you made before will now be dead, so if you are making a representation then you will need to make a fresh one.
If you are returning the TE9 form late, then you will need to do TE7s
If you are returning the TE9 form late, then you also need to fill in and return the TE7 form 'Application to file a statement out of time/ extension of time'.
As with the TE9 form, you can either do this by post or you can get an electronic copy of the TE7 form from here.
Download and save the form and you should then be able to type in the boxes and save the completed version and then email both the TE7 and TE9 to the TEC.
Note that one version of the TE7 form that the TEC may send you says it is for "parking". If so then use that as there is no TE7 form specifically for Mersey Gateway penalties.
Possible reasons for doing the return late include "I was on holiday when the TE3 arrived." "I was working away from home when the TE3 arrived." "I was looking after a sick relative and so was away from home when the TE3 arrived."
If you are submitting the TE9 form late and therefore also have to return the TE7, then the TE3 is NOT automatically cancelled. Instead the 'court' refer the TE7 to Merseyflow who will decide whether to accept the reason that you have given for the late submission. We believe that it is really Halton Council that should be considering this, and that what Merseyflow are doing is illegal.
Until around the end of April 2019 this particular illegality did not matter as it seemed that Merseyflow accepted all reasons given for lateness and stopped the recovery action.
As with TE9s that were returned on time, though the recovery action stops, Merseyflow will usually reissue the PCN.
IN EARLY MAY, MERSEYFLOW AIDED BY THE TEC STARTED TURNING DOWN MANY OF THE TE7 OUT OF TIME APPLICATIONS, APPARENTLY AT RANDOM.
SO GO IN TO AS MUCH DETAIL AS YOU CAN. IN PARTICULAR IF YOU DID NOT RECEIVE THE TE3 RECOVERY ORDER AND TE9 WITNESS STATEMENT, THEN STRESS THAT IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO SUBMIT THE TE9s ON TIME AS YOU NEVER RECEIVED THE FORMS.
If you have submitted TE forms and some of them have been rejected then see our STAGE SIX advice.
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OTHER OPTIONS IF YOU CAN NOT FILL IN TE9 or TE7
If you are not able to submit the TE forms then there are a few other options. You might be able to pay, you might decide to wait till the next stage (Bailiffs) and deal with them as best you can or try these other options-
TELL THEM IF YOU ARE VULNERABLE- This normally comes into play at the Bailiff stage, but there is no need to wait till then. Check on this part of our advice on Bailiffs to see if you might be classed as vulnerable and if so then follow the advice on the link.
MAKE A 'REPRESENTATION TO MERSEYFLOW- If you believe that either you did not see any previous forms or were not able to deal with them (for instance you may have been suffering from some illness that made it difficult or impossible to deal with this then you could make a 'representation' how to do this.
Merseyflow are not required to consider such a late representation, and from May 2019 or earlier it seems that whatever the circumstances Merseyflow are being ruthless and rejecting all late representations, so there is probably no longer any point doing this.
DISCUSS IT WITH MERSEYFLOW- There may be special circumstances (apart from vulnerability) or you may think that there has been an error and there should not have been a penalty issued to you. Or you might want to see if they will accept a payment less than what is demanded in the Recovery Order.
We recommend that you use email or visit, as Merseyflow may not give reliable answers if you phone them and may ignore letters. Their contact details are: by Email- email@example.com, OR phone 01928 878 878, OR write to or visit the Walk-in centre at Howard Court, Manor Park, Runcorn, WA7 1SJ.
In these circumstances we recommend that you copy any email to your MP - (Contact details for MPs).
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What Happens If You Fail To Stop Recovery Orders
If you do NOT return the TE9 form OR return it late without a completed TE7 form OR what you say in the Witness statement or plea to Merseyflow is turned down, then the 'debt' will be passed to recovery agents, usually known as 'bailiffs'. They will issue a 'Notice of Enforcement', see STAGE FIVE - The Bailiffs
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