A good angle?
Hello again fellow naggers!
Just writing to update the situation since TVL’s most recent reply (as copied in the below post ‘An Inspector Calls’). Well, as you know I asked for your opinions on the amount of compensation I should be seeking and whether or not to take court action. I have taken on board your suggestions and will be seeking legal advice on 2nd January, but until then, I am seeing where I can get by myself (with your help!). I have drawn up a few points as a ‘compensation inventory’ as it were and will pop these in after I tell you about my latest email served over the net (oooh unintentional pun!)
Firstly, this is a copy of TVL’s automated email response:
“Thank you for your email. We will respond to your email within 3 business days. If you are making a complaint we’ll need time to fully investigate it and you will receive a response within 8 working days. If you need to contact us regarding this matter, please include this email’s unique reference number in the body of your reply email.
If you are notifying us of a change of address, please be aware that we will not send a replacement licence, as the current one is still valid until expiry. All future correspondence will be sent to the new address.
TV Licensing Email Team”
Hopefully that will clarify my following email a bit, so I put it in first. And here is the email I sent back (it may be easier to read their latest reply before reading this, but I didn’t want to put these all together as I think my posts get a bit crowded!):
Thank-you for your reply and for looking into my previous emails. I would like to query a point you made regarding the withdrawal of your implied right of access on 17/10/11 and subsequent visit to my property. You state that ***** actioned my request within the allocated time scale and that during that time, I received a visit from one of your representatives as this has been scheduled prior to my email and your records had not been updated at that point. Whilst I understand that TVL are excusing the visit on the basis of a handling period, I would like to highlight the actual wording of the email as saying, more specifically, that you will “respond” to an email within “3 business days”. However, as you can appreciate a response (e.g. a reply) is not the same as updating your records. Regardless of when a response was issued, when emailing a legal notice it would have been sent and received immediately and therefore, should have been effective immediately. Your automated response does not clarify a time period for dealing with requests, but simply for replying to them. You can understand that if a company emailed me with a legal restriction and I did not check my emails for 3 days, the legal restriction would have still been effective regardless of whether or not I had read it. The fact is that you had been informed that I had withdrawn your implied right of access and continued to visit my property. It is not my responsibility to ensure you update your records in a timely manner, but to ensure I have provided you with the relevant information to do so.
Therefore, I maintain that the recent visit from one of your representatives is one of many breaches of a withdrawal of your implied right of access. Whilst I may not be able to verify the name of your representative when my house-mate answered the door, she did see his ID card and will be able to provide me with a statement in court. It may be that he knocked on the wrong door, so again, I kindly ask if your representatives were in the area on 01/12/11 and if it would have been possible that one of them knocked at my door.
The Legal Occupier.”
If I can press my point here, this would make it the second time TVL has ignored my WOIRA and admitted it. Maybe even the third!
OK, so now for my breakdown of compensation. As you all know, the TVL officer threatened me with a search warrant and I count this as further proof of harassment (a search warrant would not have been granted without any evidence to suspect licence fee evasion). Secondly, TVL failed to reply to a few of my emails, the first failure resulting in the breach as they had not updated their records. Thirdly, I count this as one of many breaches and as someone with mental health problems, maintain that the unnecessary stress actually affects a medical condition.
My main angle of course is the trespass, but does this in any way come under the Protection from Harassment Act? The act stipulates that an action is not harassment when done in the interest of preventing or detecting a crime. Watching TV without a licence is, as stated on TVL’s website, ‘a criminal offence’. Therefore, TVL theoretically would be allowed to pursue such measures as long as they can do so lawfully and in line with the act. However, is writing to someone 30 times a year really a reasonable measure? What about threatening them? Their letters, I still maintain, are not ‘enquiries’ as TVL adamantly state, but direct threats for court action (see previous posts). Furthermore, unlawfully entering my property in breach of a WOIRA would count as harassment, wouldn’t it? Or would this solely come under trespass? And if so, what type of trespass?
My other point is that if TVL is acting reasonably, like any ‘authority’ (such as the DVLA), then there must be a point at which their enquiry is initiated and then, satisfied. At what point, as I have asked TVL before, would their enquiry be ‘satisfied’ in the case of a ‘no licence needed’ household? You are not legally obliged to update TVL’s records if you do not need a licence. Therefore, two courses of action are available to you. Saying that a) you do reply, your records will be updated and TVL will not write to you for almost 2 years. They do however reserve the right to use alternative methods of detection and to visit your property. Or b), you ignore them and they continue to threaten you until they send someone round.
OK, so citizen A we shall call him is the do-good, time for everything citizen who has chosen to go along with TVL’s ‘investigation’. He has now replied to say ‘no licence needed’ and has a visit scheduled from one of their sales representatives. At this point, we might see that the investigation has escalated from letter-writing to home-visits, depending on which is more invasive (the latter, I believe). So happy-go-lucky citizen A lets TVL into his house and they have a snoop around. They see no TV set and get no evidence. Citizen A makes them a tea and they leave, chuckling about the weather and the current price of petrol. Is citizen A now crossed off TVL’s books? Enquiry over? Nope. They can come back at a later time. In theory, citizen A could just go out and buy a TV to watch the minute Mr TVL steps off his porch. So when are they coming back? How can citizen A prove his is NOT doing something? Imagine a shop, for instance. Prove you have NOT stolen something? It is not in your bag, but maybe you have hidden it any where else in the world and we will continue to look until we find it. Well, it’s not possible to satisfy such an enquiry. Citizen A is now being watched with a ‘detector van’, having regular visits to his front door and in less than 2 years, will receive another bombardment of communication from TVL. So what can he do?
Well, citizen B thinks he has the answer. He ignores all of TVL’s ‘enquiries’. He writes to withdraw their implied right of access (not always successful as we have proven!) and he sits back to enjoy a hassle-free life. TVL may stop writing to him. They might not visit (!) but they will still spy on him with a ‘detector van’. They are not happy that he does not need nor will he ever need a TV licence and do not trust either citizen A or B to inform them should this change.
So what does citizen C do? Yes, I have just invented said citizen to liven up the mix! Citizen C is rolling in cash and has no time for arguing. He pays for a licence regardless or whether or not he needs one and hey ho, no more TV Licensing pursuing his every action! He is finally free, enquiry satisfied for a whole year of peace…
I hope, without being too sarcastic in my above example, that this shows how TVL’s actions could be shown as being unreasonable and could amount to harassment, where there is no possible option for proving you do not need a licence and for stopping all further contact in any form.
So, sorry again for the exhaustively long post, but once again I’m waiting by my computer for your comments and wise-words (quite literally, so hurry up!)