If payment has not been received after 21 days, we may register the charge with the Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC) at Northampton County Court to recover the unpaid charge. The TEC is part of the County Court based at Northampton that deals with the registration of debts from England and Wales for all unpaid Penalty Charge Notices. See Her Majesty's Courts Service website for more details.
After the TEC has sent confirmation to the council that they may proceed to recover the charge, we have 15 days to prepare and serve the following forms on you:
- Order for the Recovery of Unpaid Penalty Charge
- Witness Statement
Once you have received an Order for Recovery
Once you have received an Order for Recovery you can either:
- pay the outstanding amount which will consist of the penalty charge and a court registration fee of £7 to the us within 21 days, or
- complete the Witness Statement and return it to the TEC.
The 'Witness Statement' form
The Witness Statement is a legal declaration to say that you did not receive either:
- a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)
- a Notice to Owner (NTO)
- a Notice of Rejection (NOR) from us
- a Notice of Refusal from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal
- or that you paid the penalty charge within 28 days of receiving it
You must then send the completed Witness Statement to the Traffic Enforcement Centre. Please do not send the form to us as we cannot accept this directly.
If you complete a Witness Statement it does not mean that the Penalty Charge Notice is cancelled. The process allows us to re-issue the documentation that you have confirmed not to have received, or refer the case to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal for guidance.
Please be aware that it is a criminal offence to make a false Witness Statement and proceedings for 'contempt of court' may be brought against you if you make a false statement without an honest belief in its truth.
Grounds to make a Witness Statement
There are 4 grounds on which a Witness Statement may be made:
- I did not receive the 'Notice to Owner' - If you did not receive a 'Notice to Owner', you will not have had an opportunity to make formal representations against the issue of the Penalty Charge Notice. If a valid Witness Statement is made on this ground, we will reissue a 'Notice to Owner'.
- I made representations about the penalty charge but did not receive a rejection notice - If you made representation after receiving the 'Notice to Owner' that were rejected by the council, but you did not receive our response in the form of a Notice of Rejection of Representations, you could not have exercised your right to appeal. If a valid Witness Statement is made on this ground, we will treat the case as a formal appeal and forward all documentation to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. Liability for the penalty charge will then be decided by an adjudicator.
- I appealed to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal but have had no response to my appeal - If you made a formal appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal but did not receive notification of the outcome, you might have missed the opportunity to pay the full penalty charge. If a valid Witness Statement is made on this ground, the case will be regarded as a formal appeal. If we haven't already done so, we will forward all documentation to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. Liability for the penalty charge will then be decided by an adjudicator.
- I paid the penalty charge notice in full within 28 days - You must provide details of the date payment was made, the method of payment i.e. cash, cheque, debit/credit card and who the payment was made to, and you may be asked to provide proof of payment on request. If a valid Witness Statement is made on this ground and the council disputes the statement the case will be referred to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal for a decision to be made by an adjudicator.
When the TEC receive a Witness Statement
When the TEC receives your Witness Statement it will place the penalty charge on hold, and send authority to us to do the same.
We will then make a decision on how the case will be processed.
If you don't pay or make a Witness Statement
If the outstanding amount has not been paid and a Witness Statement has not been filed after 21 days from service of the Order for Recovery, we can request authority from the TEC to use a certificated Enforcement Agent to recover the outstanding penalty charge. Service is deemed to have been made three days after posting of the Order for Recovery.
This is done with a legal document called a Warrant of Distress.
The Enforcement Agent will send out a request for payment to the person whose name is on the warrant. If no payment is made, the Enforcement Agent can remove the vehicle or goods to recover the unpaid charge. The outstanding amount will also now include the Enforcement Agent's additional costs.
If you were not aware of this outstanding penalty charge and now the Enforcement Agent has contacted you
After the issue of a warrant you may still make a Witness Statement but to do so you will need to request and complete an Out of Time Witness Statement Form from the TEC, explaining your reasons for making a late Witness Statement., providing evidence of this if necessary.
The TEC will then ask us if we are willing to accept a late Witness Statement. If the late Witness Statement is accepted then the Order for Recovery and Warrant of Distress will be revoked, and dealt with accordingly. If we decide to reject the late Witness Statement then the case will go before a Court Officer at Northampton County Court who will decide whether our reasons for rejecting the late Witness Statement are valid.
If the court decides in our favour then the Warrant can be pursued. If the court decides to allow the late Witness Statement then it is treated in the same way as a Witness Statement that is made within time.
If you do not agree with the court's decision
You may apply to review the Court Officer's decision. Once your application is processed by the TEC, the case is transferred to your local county court for a hearing before a District Judge. The District Judge will only consider whether there is good reason to file the Witness Statement out of time and will not consider whether the penalty charge notice should have been issued.