TV Licensing Prosecutions: Forms and Template Letters

Forms and template letters which may assist you if you have been or are being prosecuted for TV licensing.

Listed below are forms and template letters which may assist you if you have been or are being prosecuted for TV licensing.

The template letters are for information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice – you may also wish to seek legal advice or representation.

When using the template letters, be sure to delete the sections of the template that we have highlighted in yellow and insert your own relevant details.

TEMPLATE 1: APPLICATION TO RE-OPEN THE CASE UNDER S.142 MAGISTRATES COURT ACT 1980 – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

If you have been found guilty, without going to Court, of not paying your TV Licence, you can use this template if;

(1)You knew you had been charged with the offence (ie. you received a Single Justice Procedure Notice in the post telling you that you were being charged with the offence of TV Licence fee evasion)

BUT

(2)You did not respond in time (ie. if you missed the 21-day deadline for entering your guilty or not guilty plea).

This template letter can be used after you have been convicted by the Court in your absence (ie. after the Court has found you guilty and issued you a fine).

The Magistrates have discretion to re-open a conviction and/or sentence where it is in the interests of justice to do so. The term ‘the interests of justice’ does not have a precise definition but if you believe there has been some sort of error or mistake in the prosecution or that the Magistrates were not aware of relevant circumstances relating to your case, you should email the Magistrates Court using this template. The Magistrates will then decide on your application either on paper or list your case for a hearing.

If your conviction is re-opened by the Magistrates, you will then be required to plead guilty or not guilty. You may consider using Template 2 below requesting TV Licensing to withdraw the charges against you if you think there are reasons why it is not in the public interest to prosecute you.

NB: If you were completely unaware that you were being prosecuted and never received the Single Justice Procedure Notice (ie. you only found out after you had been convicted), you should complete the ‘Statutory declaration of ignorance of proceedings’ form instead (see Template 6 below).

TEMPLATE 2: LETTER REQUESTING WITHDRAWAL OF CHARGES – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

You can write to TV Licensing requesting they withdraw charges against you at any stage of your case.

There are two stages in the decision to prosecute.

  1. The first stage is the evidential test. The prosecutor must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for non-payment of the licence fee.
  2. The second stage is the public interest test. Where there is sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution, the prosecutor must go on to consider whether a prosecution is required in the public interest. A prosecution will usually take place unless the prosecutor is satisfied that there are public interest factors tending against prosecution which outweigh those tending in favour.

TV Licensing are required to consider whether bringing a prosecution is in the public interest. Section 7 of its Prosecution Policy outlines the factors which a prosecutor can take into account when deciding whether or not to bring a prosecution. Template 2 allows you to set out the factors relevant in your case, that do not favour prosecution and to set out why the factors favouring prosecution are not relevant.

Factors in favour of prosecution       

  • You have previously been warned or prosecuted for a TV Licensing offence
  • A search warrant had to be obtained to enter your property and gather evidence
  • You are watching a colour TV while only paying for a black and white licence
  • There is evidence to suggest that you are deliberately not paying your licence
  • You are watching television that requires a licence when you have previously informed TV Licensing that you do not need a licence
  • You have publicly stated that you intend to watch television without a licence or encouraged others to do so
  • TV Licensing believe that prosecuting you now will deter you (prevent you) from watching television without a licence again in the future
  • There is some other reasons which makes you particularly culpable for the offence
  • There is evidence to show that your  landlord is responsible for the TV licence at the premises

Factors not in favour of prosecution

  • You bought an appropriate licence in a timely fashion after TV Licensing visited you
  • The court would likely impose only a nominal (minimal) penalty if you were convicted
  • The offence was committed due to a genuine mistake or misunderstanding
  • You are under the age of 18
  • You are suffering from serious mental or physical ill health
  • You are considered vulnerable due to personal circumstances (which may invluve physical or mental ill health, learning difficulties, domestic hostility or abuse, or exceptional and severe financial hardship)
  • You are eligible for a concessionary TV Licence (for example, if you live in sheltered or residential care accommodation, or you are blind or severely sight impaired)
  • You were a genuine visitor to the house visited by TV Licensing
  • The matter can be dealt with through an ‘out of court disposal’ – to TV Licensing, they will generally offer you the opportunity to purchase a licence as an ‘out of court disposal’

You can send this letter before you plead guilty or are convicted if you consider that if you believe there are public interest reasons why you should not be prosecuted, or, you have recently purchased a licence and this has not been taken into account. You can also send it after you have been convicted if you are also applying to have your case re-opened using a s142 application (see template 1) or a Statutory Declaration (see template 6).

If you have already been convicted, you should tell TV Licensing in this letter that that you are applying to the Court for your case to be re-opened and in the event that it is, you would like TV Licensing to withdraw the case.

 

TEMPLATE 3: SUBJECT ACCESS REQUEST TO TV LICENSING – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

It can be helpful to have as much information as possible about your case from TV Licensing to help you decide what to do next. Sometimes, however, you can misplace some of the documents that you have been sent by TV Licensing which can make this more difficult.

If you do not have any paperwork regarding your TV Licensing prosecution, including the record of your interview with the TV Licensing officer who visited your home or recordings of phone calls you made to the TV Licensing helpline, you may consider sending them a Subject Access Request (SAR). This request asks TV Licensing to send all of the personal data they hold about you, some of which may be helpful for your case. You can use Template 3 to do this. Note that you are required to provide a proof of address and ID when sending this request to TV Licensing.

TV Licensing is obliged to respond to you within 30 days of making the request so you should make sure to send this request as soon as possible.

 

TEMPLATE 4: SUBJECT ACCESS REQUEST TO HMCTS – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

If you think the Court may hold information that is relevant to your case, such as a copy of the plea that you entered, you may consider making a Subject Access Request to HM Courts and Tribunal Service. You can use Template 4 to do so. Consider also if you want to send one to TV Licensing – see Template 3.

HMCTS is obliged to respond to you within 30 days of making the request so you should make sure to send this request as soon as possible.

Magistrates Court Forms

TEMPLATE 5: NOTICE TO APPEAL AGAINST SENTENCE AND / OR CONVICTION – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

If you have been convicted of a TV Licensing offence and had full knowledge of the case against you, you may appeal against the sentence and or the conviction.

If you pleaded guilty, you can apply to appeal your sentence (fine). You will not be able to appeal your conviction. On appeal, the Crown Court can review the fine amount that was imposed if you believe it was not calculated in line with the Sentencing Guidelines for a TV Licensing offence.

If you pleaded not guilty and were convicted, you have the option of appealing both your conviction and sentence. This will involve the matter being re-tried at the Crown Court.

You should note that if you are appealing to the Crown Court and your appeal is not successful, you may have to pay the prosecution costs of the appeal.

The time limit for appealing conviction or sentence is 15 business days – if you miss this deadline you have to ask the Crown Court for permission to appeal and give reasons for the delay on the form along with any supporting evidence.

 

TEMPLATE 6: MAGISTRATES COURT FORM ‘STATUTORY DECLARATION OF IGNORANCE OF PROCEEDINGS’ – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

If you have been found guilty, without going to Court, of not paying your TV Licence, you can fill out this form if:

(1)You did not know that you had been charged with the offence because you never received the Single Justice Procedure Notice telling you so,

AND

(2)You only discovered that you had been charged after the Court had found you guilty, convicted you and issued a fine against you.

This form can be used after you have been convicted by the Court in your absence (ie. after the Court has found you guilty and issued you a fine).

You must make the statutory declaration within 21 days of finding out about your case.

Send the completed ‘Statutory Declaration’ form to the Magistrates’ Court where you were convicted.  You can search for the court’s email address and phone number here. You must make the statutory declaration 21 days after finding out about your case.

If your conviction is set aside after you make this statutory declaration, this does not mean that the case against you has been dropped. TV Licensing may choose to prosecute you again now that you are aware of the case. You may wish to consider writing to TV Licensing requesting the withdrawal of charges (see Template 2 above). You will need to set out the reasons why you want to have the charges against you reconsidered.

NB: If you knew about the charges against you but did not respond in time and then were convicted, you should not use this form. It is only to be used where you did not know anything about the court proceedings until after you have been convicted. You may considered whether you could use Template 1 above (Application to Re-open the Case Under s142 Magistrates’ Court Act 1980) instead.

 

 

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