Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Saturday, 17 August 2013

TV Licence Summons: What To Do?

TV Licence Summons

Imagine that you awake one morning to find a brown envelope on your doormat, which contains a summons to the Magistrates' Court for the offence of using a TV receiver without a licence.

[Note: Since this article was written, the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 now allows for TV licence cases to be dealt with by a single Justice. The information given below still holds true, but a summons (referred to as a Requisition under the new legislation) will only be issued when the case is being dealt with by the full Magistrates' Court instead of under the single Justice arrangements]

Would you know how to proceed in those circumstances?

In today's article we shall explain the general process for anyone living in England or Wales finding them self in that unnerving situation. The legal process in Scotland is slightly different, because virtually all TV licence evasion cases are dealt with by way of fiscal fines.

Before we start a quick disclaimer that, in common with the vast majority of TV Licensing's Court Presenters, we are not lawyers, however, over the years we have accumulated considerable knowledge and experience of how TV Licensing handles its prosecution cases.

It is true to say that since starting this blog we have reviewed and observed literally hundreds of TV Licensing cases. We have also offered winning advice to several defendants, including Tony who we blogged about only a few weeks ago.

1. TV Licensing Lay Information Before the Court.
It is an offence under section 363 of the Communications Act 2003 for a person to use or install (e.g. have connected/tuned ready for use) a TV receiver in a property that is not covered by a valid TV licence. It is a summary offence, which means it can only be dealt with by the Magistrates' Court in the first instance.

Since 1st September 2016 it is also an offence for a person to watch or download BBC iPlayer on-demand programmes in a property that is not covered by a valid TV licence.

In order for the Magistrates to issue a summons TV Licensing must lay information before the court that an offence has been committed. This basically means they tell the court they have evidence to charge the accused (hereafter referred to as the "defendant") with an offence, although the court will not actually review or test any evidence at this stage. There is nothing to say that the evidence laid before the court will withstand closer scrutiny.

2. Summons Issued.
After information is laid the court will issue a summons, which is effectively an invitation asking the defendant to respond to the charges in person.

The defendant normally receives the following documents with the summons:
  • Statement of Facts: This is a short summary of the information TV Licensing laid before the court (e.g. "between 1st January 2014 and 10th January 2014 it is claimed that the defendent used a colour television receiver without a valid TV licence, contrary to section 363 of the Communications Act 2003").
  • Plea Form: The defendant can complete this to indicate whether they plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Statement of Means: The defendant completes this form with details of their income and outgoings, which the court uses to assess the level of any financial penalty it imposes.
  • TVL178 Record of Interview form: Usually a copy of the famous TVL178 Record of Interview (self-incrimination) form is included. The defendant should closely examine this form and compare it with the copy they should have received when TV Licensing visited the property. See our earlier post for more information on this document.
  • Proof by Written Statement: This is a statement by the TV Licensing visiting officer, which will be tendered in evidence unless the defendant pleads not guilty and asks for the goon to appear as a witness in person.
Under section 127 of the Magistrates' Court Act 1980 the court can only issue a summons if the prosecution lays information within 6 months of the commission of the alleged offence. If TV Licensing take longer than that the case cannot proceed.

If the defendant fails to respond to summons the case will be heard by the Magistrates in their absence and they will be found guilty by default. The majority of TV licence cases end this way, with the court making judgments against defendants that fail to respond to summons. For this reason it is very important that the defendant responds to summons.

3. Response to Summons.
This is where strategy comes into play, as the defendant will have to weigh up the most appropriate way to respond given their circumstances.

If, having thoroughly considered the circumstances, the defendant believes they've been caught "bang to rights", then the best option is to plead guilty from the outset. A defendant choosing this option does not have to attend court and the case will usually be dealt with in their absence. The court will convict them solely on the basis of their guilty plea and will not consider any other evidence, however weak, that TV Licensing may have presented.

If, on the other hand, the defendant wishes to challenge TV Licensing's representation of the facts, then they should plead not guilty. A defendant choosing this option does not have to attend the initial hearing, but will obviously need to attend for trial at a later date. If the case gets as far as trial then the defence will have the opportunity to test the quality of TV Licensing's evidence, which might be enough to discourage them from proceeding with the case. For whatever reason, TV Licensing are sometimes very reluctant to have their evidence and witnesses tested in court.

There may be circumstances where a guilty defendant takes the strategic option of pleading not guilty. That might seem a strange suggestion, but there are two possible advantages to the defendant by doing this:
  • TV Licensing may well make procedural errors, which result in the case being dismissed or the Magistrates ruling in the defendant's favour.
  • TV Licensing, who are known to take shortcuts, may decide to withdraw the case instead of risking closer scrutiny of their evidence at trial.
4. Pleading Guilty.
If the defendant decides to plead guilty then it is best to do so early, as the court will give a discount on the penalty they impose. The defendant has the option of attending the hearing, but most choose to have the case heard in their absence.

The court will usually impose a financial penalty on the guilty defendant. The starting point for any fine is determined from the defendant's completed Statement of Means form, but the Magistrates can vary this to take into account any mitigating or aggravating factors. The Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines give details of the current recommended fine levels. In addition to the fine, the defendant will normally have to pay TV Licensing's prosecution costs (currently around £120) and the Victim Surcharge (the greater of £20 or 10% of any fine imposed). We are pleased to report that the latest edition of the Sentencing Guidelines now recommends a conditional discharge for offences of low culpability and harm (e.g. a person who accidentally receives TV programmes without a licence for a short period of time).

5. Pleading Not Guilty.
Whenever possible we would encourage the defendant to plead not guilty, thereby forcing TV Licensing to prove their case. It is only by challenging TV Licensing's evidence or procedures that the defendant has any chance of winning their case.

A defendant who pleads not guilty is entitled to review all of TV Licensing's prosecution evidence prior to trial. A written request for the evidence should be made via the court as soon as the defendant has formally entered a not guilty plea. If the court applies standard directions then TV Licensing will have 28 days to disclose its evidence to the defence. If they fail to make disclosure in accordance with the court's directions the case will be dismissed.

Prior to the trial TV Licensing may inform the defendant of their intention to submit "Proof by Written Evidence", which will be the visiting officer's (goon's) account of how they gathered information for the TVL178 Record of Interview form. The defendant can object to such a request within 7 days of receiving notice. We suggest that it is preferable to have all of TV Licensing's witnesses attend to give evidence in person, because this allows the defence the chance to cross-examine them.

The court will ask the defence whether they wish to call any witnesses at the trial. Notwithstanding the fact they may already be appearing for the prosecution, it is a good idea to call the goon who completed the TVL178 Record of Interview form, as the success of TV Licensing's case invariably hinges on whatever they have written. The defence should call any other reliable witnesses whose evidence casts into doubt TV Licensing's case.

We should mention that TV Licensing will attempt to ascertain the basis of any not guilty plea, so that their Court Presenter can be better prepared when the case comes to trial. The defendant should not explain their reasons for pleading not guilty to TV Licensing.

6. Examining TV Licensing's Evidence.
Once TV Licensing's evidence has been disclosed it should be carefully examined for any factual inaccuracies or contradictions that could weaken their case. If problems are found the defence has two main options - they can either get straight on the phone and challenge TV Licensing before trial or keep quiet and challenge them during the trial. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options.

If the defence challenges TV Licensing on the quality of their evidence before trial then there is a chance they will withdraw the case before it gets that far. The downside of challenging before trial is that the defence has shown their hand and TV Licensing may be able to mitigate the evidential weaknesses that have just been drawn to their attention. Alternatively, if the defence waits until trial it is less likely TV Licensing will be able to rebuff any weaknesses that are drawn to their attention, which is likely to weaken their case.

7. The Trial.
If the case gets as far as trial, then the hearing will proceed as follows:
  • Prosecution opening speech: TV Licensing will summarise their case against the defendant.
  • Prosecution witnesses: TV Licensing will call and examine their witnesses.
  • Cross-examination of prosecution witnesses: The defence will have the opportunity to cross-examine TV Licensing's witnesses.
  • Prosecution re-examination of its witnesses: TV Licensing will have the opportunity to clarify any points from its own witnesses that may have arises during the defence's cross-examination.
  • Submission of no case to answer: The defence has the option of submitting there is no case to answer at this stage (e.g. the prosecution has failed to submit sufficient evidence to prove their case). In the unlikely event that the Magistrates agree the case will be dismissed and the defence can ask for costs to be awarded in its favour.
  • Defendant's evidence: The defendant can choose to give evidence from the witness box. They do not have to, but the court may take into account their failure to do so when determining their guilt or innocence.
  • Expert witnesses: If applicable. Unlike other witnesses who can only deal in fact, expert witnesses can be called upon to give opinion on matters within their technical expertise.
  • Character witnesses: If applicable, character witnesses can be called to support the defendant's good standing. If a character witness is called then TV Licensing has the right to impugn the defendant's supposed good character by mentioning any previous convictions they might have.
  • Defence witnesses: The defence will call and examine their witnesses.
  • Cross-examination of defence witnesses: TV Licensing will have the opportunity to cross-examine the defence witnesses.
  • Defence re-examination of its witnesses: The defence will have the opportunity to clarify any points from its own witnesses that may have arisen during TV Licensing's cross-examination.
  • Defence closing speech: The defence will summarise its key arguments, highlighting any evidence that supports a not guilty verdict.
  • The decision: The Magistrates will retire to weigh up the evidence and consider their decision. After a normally short deliberation they will return to the courtroom and announce their decision. If a not guilty verdict is returned the defence should ask the court to award costs in its favour. If a guilty verdict is returned then the defence will have the opportunity for mitigation before sentence is passed. The sentence is likely to be a slightly steeper fine that if the defendant had pleaded guilty from the outset. The defendant will also have to pay TV Licensing's costs, which will be more expensive having gone to trial.
If the defendant is found guilty at trial then they will almost certainly be ordered to pay a fine, TV Licensing's prosecution costs (which will be greater than if they'd pleaded guilty) and the Victim Surcharge.

If it all goes terribly wrong and the defendant is found guilty there is still the option of appealing the Magistrates' decision. The defendant needs to act quickly as there is only a short time to lodge an appeal.

To conclude, let us leave you with the heartening statistic that less than half of those people TV Licensing catch evading the licence-fee are actually convicted. With a little bit of research and preparation it really is possible to mount a very credible defence.

We hope that you've found the information in this article useful. If you require any further advice please get in touch and we'll be happy to help.

Edit (17/8/13): We should probably mention the unusual situation where a defendant does not receive their summons, so is completely unaware they are facing prosecution and are convicted without their knowledge. In these circumstances the defendant should make a Statutory Declaration (see form on Resources page), which is effectively a sworn statement denying all knowledge of the case. The completed Declaration should then be submitted to the court, which should then overturn the conviction. If there is sufficient time, TV Licensing may re-issue the summons for a second attempt at prosecution.

Edit (17/6/16): Following the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, it is now possible for TV licence cases to be dealt with by a single Justice. Please see this article for further information.


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Anonymous said...

Hi Admin

I have received a summons to court for apparently not paying for my tv licence for one day ...i explained to the goon who came to my door that i did have a sky package but my tv had a big hole in it from a wi accident!! he asked me for some details as to which i gave him my info and told him i would be acquring a new tv in the near future and to which he made me fill out for a tv licence card and then he left.

Now down the line i have received these summons with a copy of what he wrote on his sheet and has nothing what i said on there plus the signature of where my name should have been isnt even my signature ....what should i do??? a quick reply would be greatfully appreciated as ive been summoned for the 9th of december thankyou.

Admin said...

Hello Anon,
You have not mentioned the date of the goon's visit, but going on TVL's normal form it might have been several months ago (they do like to stretch things out, which obviously leaves the defendant at a bit of a disadvantage).

At the time of your visit you should have received a copy of the TVL178 Record of Interview form. Based on what you've said, the signature on that form should be different to the copy they sent you in the post. If that is the case then I'd ring them up, point that out and tell them you'll happily go to court to explain how their goon is attempting to pervert the course of justice.

They'll almost certainly withdraw the prosecution if you tell them that. If they don't, then be prepared to go to court and tell them exactly what you've just told me. Submit a not guilty plea and make sure you give the full basis of your plea, including the phrase "perverting the course of justice".

They'll almost certainly get the shits if you do that. Their goons tell lies every single day, but they would not want to court to hear that.

Unknown said...

I hope I'll get a fast enough answer to even know how to prepare and what to expect (have the hearing in 2 weeks).
Here's the short summary of the story.
Last year, I've been living in a house with 9 other people. The land lady told me that all bills are included in the rental fee.
In May, one of the TV licence agents came knockin on our door.
I explained to the guy, that everything related to the TV should be addressed to the land lady. He still asked for my info and contant, just in case. I told the land lady about the whole ordeal and she said she would take care of it. 2 weeks after that, I went back to my country (see, I'm an international student). I thought things would be solved...
I came back on 1st of October and since I didn't find any other place, I managed to get back in the same old house.
That's when I recieved the mail, that I'm being summoned to the court.
I first plead not guilty by mail, since, as the TV was not mine, nor did I know or could know that the land lady didn't take care of the licence problem.
A few weeks ago I recieved another letter, summoning me to court again. I told the land lady about the whole problem, and she told me that I should have lied to the agent.. So obviously I shouldn't expect any kind of help from her. The only thing she did was taking the TV out of the house.
What should I do, what should I expect?

Also, I don't have the old tenancy contract from last year, anymore, (I could however ask someone else to lend me theirs, if that would help in any way).

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Admin said...

Hello Kai Cluster and thanks for your comment.
I'm afraid it's not all that good news.
TV licence evasion is what's termed an "absolute offence" meaning you can by guilty of the offence even if it was accidentally committed or unintentional.
The law is quite clear: If you were an adult occupier of an unlicensed property where equipment was installed and/or used to receive TV programmes - even if it was not your own equipment - then you are liable for prosecution. It is not fair, but that's the way it is.
The fact TV Licensing is taking court action suggests that it has "credible" evidence that you personally are liable - e.g. you were there and signed the goon's form when he visited. If you did sign the form then you will have an uphill struggle trying to convince the court of your innocence.
The fact your landlady said she would sort out the licence is no defence, although the court would undoubtedly look sympathetically on those circumstances (assuming you can prove them). If your landlady has breached the terms of your tenancy agreement by not purchasing a TV licence, then of course you could take civil action against her.
You might find the following post useful:

Unknown said...

Sorry for sending soo many msg in once

Admin said...

We have replied to your email. Please check your inbox and get back to us.

Anon said...

One of my flat mates in our student house let one of them into our house and he proceeded to interview us. When the tvl walked in we were watching a programme on Iplayer which was fine although he noticed that the aerial was plugged in to the tv, we explained that our signal is extremely poor to a point where it's just random pixels on a screen therefore couldn't watch live tv and haven't been able to since we moved in what should we do

Unknown said...

Hi, So in the beginning on November, the 8th. A tv license officer came to my home ( private rented) and said I needed a license, I explained to him that my aerial had been cut, ( I was watching netflix on my computer at the time connected by hdmi to the tv) and that even though I had a youview ( talk talk box)but obviously I have no channels due to having a cut aerial and even though I have a sky aerial thing, they wont fit into the youview box and theres no ends to it? any way he never asked for proof of this and gave me a payment card anyway. I rang them the next day explained about my aerial etc. so the girl on the phone told me that she had cancelled the license and that I should cut my card up. which I did. A few days ago I had a letter saying that I had been caught using live tv on my youview box? but I wasnt using it at the time and the letter said I should continue payments and that I could get fines up to £1,000. Thing is I havent been wartching live tv only catch up and netflix. so I rang them up and asked them why and what I have to do and she was saying I had to do a statutory declaration, now this is my first house and first thing ive ever heard off. I emailed them twice asking what do I do. and they said I just need to sign one. nothing more. Now im not sure whats gonna happen? cause I have no clue, I need help. Im obviously gonna plead not guilty and show my proof of pictures of the cut aeriel etc. but what will happen now? i dont know what to do? I live in the uk

Admin said...

Hi Shauna and thanks for your comment.
You seem to be saying that you have received an official court summons (similar to the picture at top of post), but have not committed the offence? When the TV Licensing goon visited you explained to him/her that you never receive TV programmes and showed them the cut aerial lead?
Your case further illustrates why you should never trust TV Licensing.
You should have received a copy of the completed TVL178 form with your summons. The contents of that form are very important, as they form the entire basis of TV Licensing's prosecution case. I'd like to see that form, if you'd care to photo/scan it and email it to me (of course feel free to blank out your personal details). If you have signed the form then you will have a difficult time convincing any court of your innocence, but there may be other possibilities. I do not want TV Licensing to see our discussion, so please do contact me by email. The address is on the sidebar.

Unknown said...

R:E Hi Shauna and thanks for your comment.
You seem to be saying that you have received an official court summons (similar to the picture at top of post), but have not committed the offence? When the TV Licensing goon visited you explained to him/her that you never receive TV programmes and showed them the cut aerial lead?
Your case further illustrates why you should never trust TV Licensing.
You should have received a copy of the completed TVL178 form with your summons. The contents of that form are very important, as they form the entire basis of TV Licensing's prosecution case. I'd like to see that form, if you'd care to photo/scan it and email it to me (of course feel free to blank out your personal details). If you have signed the form then you will have a difficult time convincing any court of your innocence, but there may be other possibilities. I do not want TV Licensing to see our discussion, so please do contact me by email. The address is on the sidebar.
No it doesn't say anything about court summons... they said that I had to do the declaration when I rang them. The letter says this. Dear miss dickerson < my name) An officer recently found evidence that tv recieving equiptment was being used without a valid license at this address ( It wasnt being used) Because you have now set up a payment plan for a tv license, you will not be prosecuted at this time. as long as you make regular payment on time. --- When I rang them the day after the officer ( goon) came to my house I told them what had happened that I had offered to show him that it wasnt working but he carried on writing out my form anyway. My youview box wasnt being used at the time when he visited only my laptop connected to my tv as I explained. I was watching netflix. The woman on the phone told me the payment plan had been cancelled etc and that I should cut up my card and thats what I did. and then that letter came. Im not sure what I'm supposed to do now. They told me I had to sign a declaration, but they never told me what to do or what I have to sign etc. they just said that. its annoying because I really wont be paying anything for something I havent got. especially when I have to pay over £100 to have a new aerial put in

Admin said...

Okay, I think I get you now.
TV Licensing has sent you one of their letters saying "we caught you, but won't prosecute this time". They sometimes send these to people even when they haven't caught them doing anything wrong, as in your case. It's just another ploy to get you to buy a TV licence you don't legally need.
If you don't receive TV programmes, then don't be coerced into buying a TV licence.
TV Licensing undoubtedly want you to make a "No Licence Needed" declaration, but you are under no legal obligation to.
In your situation I would just ignore TV Licensing's threats, safe in the knowledge that you are well within the law.
And never trust TV Licensing again.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your help! Im young and didnt have a clue and hate that they do this to trick people

Admin said...

If you've not done so already, you'll find a lot of information in our free book:
Please let us know if you have any more problems and best wishes for the season.

Unknown said...

Hi, I really need some advice! I received a summons today to court for watching TV without the licence. One of the Goons came to our door a few months ago and had asked us why we had no TV license. I told him I didn't even know what a TV license is because my flatmates and I are not British and in our countries we don't need a license for TV. He said there had been several letters sent to us already and this was why he was now doing a visit in person. I then realised that they would have been the addressed to the previous tenant who has heaps of mail still sent to us (final notices and warnings because she is obviously in debt to a lot of people and we have had debt collectors come to us looking for her). So unfortunately it seems I have signed the document they show you at the door and my flatmate said he had organised payment for the license, we had no reason to doubt him and we did not receive any other correspondence or reminders until today saying that I now need to go to court for it! Seems that the flat mate didn't buy the license but he has now moved back to New Zealand and it's my name that gets the blame! Is there any chance if I ring them straight away I can just pay the back dated amount and buy a new one and carry on? I feel absolutely sick with worry as I know someone else said I work with kids and if this is counted as a criminal offence it could seriously ruin me not to mention have me deported!!! I thought it would just be like paying a late fee or a bill or something not being charged as a criminal! How can they have sent several warning to our previous tenant for the same thing but for me it was just one visit and then the next step is court? What are my realistic options for a plea? Please help.

Victor said...

Hi Admin,

Thanks for a great wealth of information here. I know this is largely based on England and Wales. But I'm just wondering if you have some answers for Glasgow residents too.

I'm an international student, moved in last February and will move out this September. I do not own a TV. Only used laptops and tablets through broadband. Since March last year, I have received numerous letters from them, including the scheduled investigation warning 2 months ago that never came. I deliberately ignored all letters and not planning to let them in either, definitely not going to give them my personal information. They always addressed me as 'legal occupier'. This most recent letter is "what to expect in court". I have not received a court summon yet.

My questions are:

1. Can they summon me to court if they don't even have my details? Name, etc. I rent this flat through an agent though. Can they access my information from them?

2. Is it possible to receive a court summon after I leave the property? To my understanding, if I don't appear in court then, I will be convicted by default. As much as I hate TV licensing, I wouldn't want to hold a criminal record for not paying £145. What if I get detained at the airport when I come back in December briefly for graduation? That would be sad.

3. Can TV licensing be bought and the case be dropped, after a court summon?

Many thanks

Admin said...

Hello Victor and thank you for your kind words and comment.

In response to your particular questions:
1. TV Licensing can not summon an unnamed individual to court. That is an absolute fact. However, suppose they somehow obtained the occupier's name, but it had minor spelling mistakes on the summons, then that document would normally still stand. The letting agent/landlord will not be approached by TV Licensing and even if they were they should not disclose any of your personal information.

2. I should mention that in Scotland, the overwhelming majority of TV Licensing cases are disposed of by way of fiscal fines. Very few people in Scotland ever end up in court. I forget the exact value, but it's less than 100 per year on average.

In theory, if a fiscal fine or summons was delivered to the property, bearing your name or something very close, then you would normally be liable for acting on it. That would be the case even if you'd moved away, but obviously there could well be problems with forwarding the documents on to you. What normally happens, in practise, is that the paperwork would be returned to the court and TV Licensing would have to decide whether or not to pursue the prosecution. It is unlikely they would, as they'd have to find you first.

The chances of being detained are pretty negligible I'd suggest, although it would be unwise of me to rule it out completely.

3. It is TV Licensing policy (although it's meant to be a secret) that they don't normally prosecute a first-time evader who subsequently buys a TV licence. Quite often TV Licensing "goes through the motions" of issuing court paperwork, only to withdraw the prosecution when the circumstances become clearer later on.

Victor said...

Thanks for you prompt response. It appears to me that there is almost zero chance of them obtaining my name. Unless they stalk my mail slot through the door. Any other way you can think of?

I've read earlier where you mentioned that they can never get hold of ISPs and stuff. Does that still stand?

Also, just to clarify, they always need some sort of evidence of offence in order to issue a court summon, correct? I live in a 3rd floor flat. They need to get through two doors to be able to speak to me. If, worst comes to worst, they actually meet me, should I let them in and show that I actually do not own a TV and get it over with? Or should I just say, "I do not own a TV, hence I do not need a license"? Of course, I would not provide any personal info in both cases.

I have less than 8 months left in the UK. I wonder if they can catch up to me before then. In short, I'm just trying to understand their capabilities to actually issue me a court summon. And I've struggled to find proper reasons that they can at the moment. 1. They don't have my name. 2. There has never been any interaction between the goons and me. 3. The lack of credible evidence.

I greatly appreciate your effort and advice from this point on.


Unknown said...

Hi. I received a summons to attend court which I pleaded not guilty too and now have been summoned to attend. I missed direct debit payments and thought that was why their man came round and to perfectly frank it says on the form I stated I didn't have a license etc which I signed as I assumed it was purely for me to bring account up to date and re instate direct debit. The thing is this, this was August 2015 and yet I have a letter dated 09/12/2015 from the tv license people actually saying my license is valid until March 2016. So where do I stand? A tv license is valid for 12 months so this surely means that they letter I got December means I've had a license since March 2015. Any advice would be great. Thanks jay

Unknown said...

Hi. I received court summons saying I had no tv license. I admit I was behind some direct debit payments and when their bloke came round (August 2015) I assumed this was why and he said that to reinstate direct debit etc. I've got copy of his form and it's saying I have no license etc which like a fool has my signature on it. but this is the situation. In December 2015 I got a letter from tv license actually saying my license was valid until March 2016 so this surely means I have a license and it's been valid since March 2015 and all its about were the couple of missed direct debits. So based on their letter does this mean I did/do have a license or not. Their letter dated December would suggest I do.
Thanks Jason

Unknown said...

i. I received court summons saying I had no tv license. I admit I was behind some direct debit payments and when their bloke came round (August 2015) I assumed this was why and he said that to reinstate direct debit etc. I've got copy of his form and it's saying I have no license etc which like a fool has my signature on it. but this is the situation. In December 2015 I got a letter from tv license actually saying my license was valid until March 2016 so this surely means I have a license and it's been valid since March 2015 and all its about were the couple of missed direct debits. So based on their letter does this mean I did/do have a license or not. Their letter dated December would suggest I do.
Thanks Jason

Admin said...

As you've posted the same comment three times, I guess this is worrying you Jason.

If you've signed the form, thereby admitting your guilty, then your position is not very good. Just because you have a letter saying the licence is valid until 2016, that does not mean the licence was actually valid until that date. If you missed any payments then it could have been revoked.

Unknown said...

Hi. Sorry for the multiple comments. So any advice please for the court hearing or shall I just inform court I now wish to plead guilty? Sorry I've never been in trouble or court before so no idea what happens. Doesn't make sense to me that I have an official letter dated only last month saying I have a license but due to a couple of missed direct debits I may not have had one at the time this man came round?


Admin said...

My advice Jason would be to plead guilty, because if you missed any payments then technically you are. You don't need attend court, but it will look better if you do. Be sure to let the court know that you're very sorry for your genuine oversight and because of your financial circumstances you found yourself unable to pay despite wanting to. They'll take on board your comments and give you a lower fine.

Unknown said...

Ok thanks.

Anonymous said...

I only watch TV on demand, iplayer, catch up and sky movies on demand/sky store.
I believed I had a current TV licence - until tonight
A TV license man knocked on my door to tell me I had not paid my direct debit since Sept (it's now Jan)
I didn't realise. I've been ill for the past 2-3 months. I'm a busy single mum with a demanding job.
I can not honestly say I keep on top of my post but I have not seen any reminders or letters.
I was distracted by my daughters friends as he was at the door in the pitch black. I asked if I could reinstate the DD he agreed and completed the paper work I signed it believing it was just DD paper work.
When I brought it in I saw the caution... he did not tell me I was being cautioned. I would never have signed that. I feel so stupid.

I am a teacher I can not have a criminal record. I will never work again. It will show up on an enhanced DBS. How is this in the publics best interest? How will I pay for anything if I don't have a job?
I'm terrified now.
Please advise. Thanks

Admin said...

Try to calm down. It will probably not be as bad as you think.
Technically speaking, if you missed the DD payments then you did not have a valid TV licence and you could be prosecuted if you used a TV receiver during the unlicensed period. You will not know if TV Licensing is going to pursue to prosecution until maybe 5 months time, when a summons arrives.
Even if a summons does arrive - and it's by no means certain - TV Licensing might withdraw the case if you have kept good on your payments in the meantime.
My advice would be to write down everything said during your conversation with the goon last night. Keep it safe just in case a summons does arrive and contact us again in that eventuality.
Convictions for TV licence evasion, in the unlikely event it gets that far, are non-recordable and do not appear on any DBS certificate. Those convictions are held on the court's records only. Even if it did appear on a DBS certificate, then it is no worse than a conviction for speeding and I'm sure your employer would view it as such.
Best of luck and please keep us updated.

Anonymous said...

Having received a number of letters for payment of tv license I now have got one warning of court action but addressed to legal occupier. Having refused to pay because they charged my partner a payment while I had still 3 months until the expiry date ,I have not telephoned or had an conversation with the goon who called at the house. How can they proceed if no one has talked to them and they have no name of occupant for this address?

Ida said...

You have a very good blog. Very helpful. Thank you very much for that.

Some day Tv license officer knocked to the door and asked about television. I told him that I do not watch. Couple of times he showed a terminal for payment of the license. He said that I have to pay. I asked him for a visit to another date because on that day I did not go to work, I was very sick. He asked a series of questions. He did not enter the house, he stood in the hallway.

He take advantage of the fact that I'm sick and I'm not a native English. I did not understand everything that he spoke to me. He offered me a document to sign. Unfortunately, I signed it. The first and last time in my life I did something like that.
I did not pay attention to what is written in this document. The officer lied when he wrote that watched the BBC life.
I've never watched television in this house!

I wrote a complaint to the TV licensing office, asked for a visit to another officer. They answered, that can come only need to make an appointment. Unfortunately, I delayed the appointment visits (trips abroad). When I finally wanted to invite a new officer to the house, came a subpoena. The hearing soon.
Still I do not watch TV.

As the court may judge the fact that I was sick and I did not understand everything in English - what said the officer?

Is the TVlicence officers record conversations during visits?
This may be evidence in court. I'm telling the truth

Is the TV Licensing has a device that can pinpoint freeview receiver in a given place? I do not have nothing in the house, it could be evidence in the case?

What can I do in this situation?
Thanks a lot for answer.

Admin said...

Thanks for your kind words. If you read our previous responses you'll see that we normally recommend contacting TV Licensing to make it absolutely clear that:
(a) Their goon completed the form dishonestly.
(b) You are quite happy to attend court and say that.

Sometimes that threat is enough to get TV Licensing to withdraw the charges. They might wait until the morning you're due in court to do that.

I would prepare yourself to attend court and explain exactly what you've said in your comment:
(1) You do not legally need a TV licence.
(2) You have never received any TV programmes without a valid licence.
(3) The goon caught you when you were sick and unfamiliar with English.
(4) The goon did not ask the questions as printed on the form.
(5) The goon has misrepresented what you said. You never, ever admitted to receiving TV programmes.

Good luck.

Unknown said...

When i moved into my new home I tried to set up my tv but the ariel was not fuctioning and only flickered on for a second and then just a fuzzy screen, so as i was unable to watch live tv i didnt think i needed a licence . I had a visit from a tvl inspector and invited him in and showed him that my Arial did not work properly and only flicked on for a second and then nothing so was unable to watch live tv. I do have a youview box that I only watched Netflix and on demand. After his visit i threw away the ariel lead as it was not working anyway, then i received another letter from tv licencing about not having a licence so i phoned them back up ( i have no evidence of this call) and told them i dont have an ariel plugged in and only watch netfix and on demand, they said they would send someone to check but no one has been back since. I have just received a court summons and the tvl inspector is saying that because it flicked on for a second that I was/am able to receive tv but that's untrue as my ariel did not fuction proerly. I also refused to sign the interview statement but there is a signiture on it and it's not mine. I want to plaed not guilty but am worried it is going to be my word against his and i will be fined even more.
Any advice would be great.
Thanks in advance jodi

Unknown said...

Add note!! I went through all my phone statements last night and found that i called the tv licence on the 29th of sept, so I do have proof of call!!

Anonymous said...

My husband was visited by tv licensing last year when I was out of the house. Due to reasons I won't go into at the moment, we didn't have a licence at the time. When we did it was in my name. We received a summons for around 8th December. We pleaded guilty and haven't heard a word since! It has now been two months and I've had visions of our court mail being delivered to the wrong address and am worried sick in case we have been fined and have no idea of how much etc etc. What do I do?

Unknown said...


I have just received a summons to attend court for the offence of using a colour television receiver on 21/10/2015. I have never had to deal with this kind of thing before and really hope you can advise me.

A TV licence man came to my flat on the 23/10/2015 and informed me the property wasn't covered. I was not aware that I had to get a TV licence as I had made the assumption it was covered with my Sky subscription (I now know this was an error on my part).

However, the man had told me that because I was not a student, nothing would come of it. He asked me to sign a form and he set up a direct debit then and there and told me not to worry.

On the day of the direct debit, I had forgotten to move the money from my savings account into my current account and so the Direct Debit bounced. When I was made aware of this, I immediately went online and paid for the year in full starting from September.

I then received a letter a few weeks later saying that I had to pay my licence or legal action would be taken, or if I had already paid my licence, to ignore the letter completely. This worried me, so I rang the TV Licence people to find out what the confusion was. The man I spoke to informed me I had two accounts, one without a payment (the original one the TV Licensing agent had set up whilst in my home) and the other I had unknowingly set up online and had paid in full for the year. He told me he would get rid of the unpaid account because he could see I had paid the full amount on the one I set up online.

In addition, the initial licence that was set up by the agent had an error in the name as he had misspelled my last name. The reason I mention this, the court summons also contains the same error, which I can only assume is in relation to the account the agent had set up.

With the information I have just provided, I suppose my question is, what do I do now?

Unknown said...

This site is very helpful, wish all the best to everyone who's going through the court

Unknown said...

Can you help me. please Early last year a man came to my door i admitted to him that i had a tv no licence just moved in. Got a payment card through post The money being paid in cash(my daughters partner paid for it.) I did not get any reminders about renewing it, I had a lot going on last year due to my husband going into hospital twice. Sometimes are mail would go next door but the gentleman moved out it was hard to get any mail from there. I received a summons to go to court as there was a warrent for my arrest for not complying with a court order (which I didnt receive). I am 60 and dont get any money ,my husband gets Pension Credit as well asDLA. What will happen to me when I go to court. Can I take someone with me. Thanks

Stressed said...

Hi I was wondering if you can advise me urgently. My bf has been living with me and not been using his tv. He went to get some things and the tv license officer was outside and as he was in a rush and was not thinking straight ended up signing something. He gave his correct name although it's common and his correct date of birth but the date of birth was incorrect on the paperwork and he left and thought no more about it and was told that was it. Then he recieved a summons from court got scared and ignored it and was fined £350. He was supposed to make payment by the 14 march. He is on benefits ans it seems unfair that he has been fined as he was paying it every month till about 3 months and then he git tricked into signing. He clearly doesn't have the money. What should he do? Is there a way out of this? The wrong date of birth is on the paperwork. He used to work but now struggles to make ends meet. He doesnt even put the dam tv on. It's stressing me and him out so much.

simster said...

HI I was at my ex girlfriends house to collect my child, her son answered and told me she would return soon and would I wait, I agreed and sat down a minute later a capita officer knocked on, I answered the door he explained his bit I told him I wasn't the homeowner and I couldn't let him in but I did give him the information regarding TV type at this point he said that he couldn't leave without payment or payment details, again I explained I wasn't the home owner. He was talking about warrants etc. I said it was probably an oversight on my ex's behalf and I will inform her of his call but he said he couldnt leave and that he would need to get the police with a warrant (I'm not sure if this was possible) but I didn't want my little girl to see any of this I asked what options there were he said " look I just need to be able to show payment details" he then suggested " if you give me dd details and when the ex gets home explain about the call and that I will be cancelling the dd at the earliest convenience " (again this was his option to me) and it sounded viable but low and behold I received a summons of which I had to submit a declaration because I didn't receive the original because I don't and never have lived there? What do I do?

Admin said...

Hello simster and thanks for your comment.
Your case is very interesting, so I would be grateful if you could email us fuller details so we can write more about it.
I don't know how much of the blog you've read, so I'll give as complete a response as possible.
To begin with, TV Licensing rules are such that they should only interview a normal adult occupier of the unlicensed property in question. As soon as you'd made it clear to the goon that it wasn't your property he should have walked away.
TV Licensing rules also state that goons should never threaten the use of search warrants or the police, so he slipped up there too.
Now that TV Licensing has started court proceedings, your best option might be to attend court, plead not guilty and explain the situation. We normally recommend contacting TV Licensing's prosecution team to inform them of your willingness to attend court, plead not guilty and highlight their procedural errors. Just the threat of you attending court and causing embarrassment for TV Licensing might be enough to get them to drop the case. If not, then you should follow it through to court. Quite often TV Licensing will drop a case at the last possible moment if it appears a good defence will be mounted. You have a very good defence, in that you don't reside at the property and have no knowledge at all about the TV licence situation there.

Anonymous said...


In november, a chap came round to my house and asked if he could come in to look at the TV. Since me and my friends (student house) had made the decision not to get a TV license, because we were not going to watch TV, I had no reason to believe that there would be a problem, as we only use the TV for the PS3. It turned out that the aerial was plugged (I'm pretty sure from previous tenants). So he filled in the form and I signed, indicating that we do not watch the TV and had not watched the TV. As you would expect, he filled in the TVL178 and I have now received a summons.

On the charge sheet, it states that "On 20 November... watch or record live TV... day unknown between 6/11 and 21/11...". The 20th November refers to the date that the guy visited, which is obviously between those two dates. When he visited, he asked me to turn the TV on, so that he could check if it was working (which it was, unfortunately). This is the only time that the TV was watched.

I guess I have a few question. Is it common for the range of dates that they give on the charge sheet to include the date on which the guy visited? Is it worth pleading not guilty? Do students typically get a reduced fine, or not? Are there only a few courts that hear these cases? Mine says Teeside but I can think of several closer magistrates courts.

Hope you can help

Admin said...

Sadly, you have committed an offence by turning on TV programmes in an unlicensed property. You were lured into it by the goon, but that doesn't detract from the fact an offence was committed. TV Licensing goons are pretty devious in how they hook their prey.

There is no point in pleading not guilty, because technically you are.

TV licence cases are centralised at certain courts. Teesside, which we are familiar with, covers all the cases in the Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar & Cleveland boroughs. Cases are heard every Thursday. The Capita Court Presenter (who will prosecute you on behalf of the BBC) at Teesside Magistrates' is a skip licker called Tony Kaminskas.

Can you please tell us who the goon was. We are familiar with several TV Licensing goons in that neck of the woods. If you search for "Teesside" in our blog you'll see what I mean.

Admin said...

Forgot to say that fines are based on your income, so as a student you will receive a lesser fine. As you committed the "crime", you'll also get a discount for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity. A range of dates is irrelevant - the only thing that matters is the fact that you were caught on the day.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your response. I had a feeling I might have been stuffed as soon as I saw your blog refer to the form as a self incrimination form. I'm assuming it doesn't make a difference that on the form he filled in at my house makes it clear that he asked me to turn the TV on?

Interesting what you say about Teesside, I'm actually in York, which doesn't seem to come under any of the boroughs you listed. Curious. I'm going to go to the advice place at my uni tomorrow and see what they say.


Admin said...

York? You're right that does seem unusual. Both York District and Northallerton Magistrates' normally deal with TV licence cases.
TV licence evasion is an absolute offence - that means it doesn't matter if you did it intentionally or by accident, whether you were aware you were committing an offence or not, the offence still stands. That's what TV Licensing will tell the court if you try to challenge them about the circumstances.
Best of luck and please do let us know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

Hi again,

I've been told that York magistrates were flooded, so it would make sense that cases would be shared out. I ended up ringing TVL with CAB and they said it'd stop and all go away if I buy a license. Bit annoying but is probably the best solution on balance. Just waiting for the first of the month before I do that

Thanks for your help,

Admin said...

CAB has advised you incorrectly - there is no guarantee it will go away. Indeed if you look at the rear of your 178 there should be a note to the effect that if payment is tendered prosecution can still go ahead.
As I said, it is an absolute offence. Paying it doesn't detract from the fact it was committed in the first place, even though it was an innocent oversight.
That said TV Licensing does have a policy - that it doesn't always stick to - that it does not always prosecute first time offenders.
If they throw you a lifeline, be sure to keep up with your payments for at least 6 months (the time-limit they have to prosecute you for the original offence) before you consider cancelling.

Anonymous said...


I need your advise.
I have a valid tv licence which u set up after receiving a letter that we were not licensed. Up until that moment I was under impression that our landlord was paying for it. We just realised that the landlord was not paying at all and we were not covered for over 9 months in 2014-2015. I called tv license and asked how can I pay it back and they asked me to send a cheque with a covering letter. After reading posts on this forum I am slightly suspicious that I might be setting myself up for a trouble. Any advice what is the right course of action will be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Right, I read all post and it made me realise that I didn't need licence in the period mentioned above as we never watched live TV just on demand, streaming movies and Netflix. I believed that you have to have a licence when you have a tv but it's clearly not the case. Wish t licensing made it very clear! It appears that I could cancel my current licence as we never watch live TV. Need to say massive thank you to everyone who contributed to this blog. Very informative and useful!

Paul said...


Got court summons for obstructing search warrant. The two goons statements are made up lies from top to bottom. I have all the visit on video evidence (mobile phone) to prove that they are lying. Already sent the part back which says I don't require them in court as I want their false statements to be their evidence. Am I right in thinking that if I send the same evidence that I will give to the court, to the TV Licensing that they will stop proceedings as they know that their evidence cannot be used. After all the video evidence proves their statements to be complete lies and amounts to purgery!

Thanks in advance.


Admin said...

Hello Paul and thanks for dropping by.
If I was convinced, as you are, that my video footage would prove the goons were lying, then I'd be tempted to make them appear in court in person (e.g. reject their statements being tendered as evidence in their absence). If you do that, and they continue their lies in the witness box, then that's perjury - far more serious than them printing lies in their written statements, which is only perverting the course of justice.
I would not be volunteering any evidence at all to TV Licensing. As the prosecution, they are obliged to show you their evidence. You, however, do not need to show them anything - indeed doing so will put them in a stronger position to be able to dispute your claims.
I would really like to hear some more about your situation, so if you'd care to email the address is: tvlicensingblog (at) gmail (dot) com
Similarly I'd be interested in seeing your video. I would guarantee not to share any information with anyone else, as doing so could harm your defence.

humaXO said...

Hi I made false declarations when the TV licence man came now received court summons on my sister name what will happen if I phone TV people and tell them the truth

bitofapilchard said...

In January my elderly uncle had a stroke and I went to see him twice a week to collect his washing, sort out his bills etc, doing a 58 mile round trip twice a week, which I could not afford in reality. I'm self employed, in between looking after my grand daughter 3 x days a week and I barely scratch a living and have to have a tax credits top up just to get by. This period financially crippled me because of the fuel costs and I slipped behind with my tv licence by a couple of months. I then found out that I did not need a licence anyway if we did not watch live tv so I thought that was okay and we didn't need to continue paying in that case.

In March, I had a visit from a goon at my door who asked me various questions. I was looking after my small grand-daughter at the time and it was very awkward dealing with her and him asking questions. He asked to come in but I refused, with it being just me and my GD home at the time, yet the goon has put on the form that the reason he didn't come in was because of my dog! When he asked me when I last watched tv, I answered truthfully 'last night'. However at no point did he say 'live tv' because had he done so, I would have said that I don't watch live tv. However I see that it says 'live tv' on the form he gave me before he left. This was deliberately misleading on his part. My other issue is that when he asked me to sign it, he said it was just to 'prove he'd been'....not at any time did he say it was a 'caution'. Two days after his visit, I made a point of phoning tv licence to inform them that we were not watching live tv and as such didn't require a licence. I made a note of that date too.

Now I've had a summons for August and I don't know what I should do. My stress levels are through the roof...uncle came home two weeks ago but I'm still doing a 50 mile round trip to his home to see him and help him and I'm still looking after baby GD 3 x times a week. Financially I'm so badly off, I don't know how I can find the money to buy fuel to get to the court in Weymouth which from my home is 74.8 miles away and besides I don't know whether I should plead guilty or not. I'm in a mess and don't know which way to turn.

Anonymous said...


This is very helpful. I have just returned home from court and my case has been adjourned for a further month. I received notification that I had been summoned to court re no tv licence via someone trying to put an attachment to my earnings to collect an unpaid fine. When I investigated I discovered someone living at my previous address had given my name to the officer who knocked on the door. I have had to attend court to give a statutory declaration and now face a trial to prove my innocence, even though I have contacted TV licensing and sent proof of address, proof of end of tenancy, proof of change of name and proof that I held a TV licence at the address I was living at (paid by DD) at the time of the so called misdemeanour. My question is can I claim compensation from TV licence for travel costs, time, telephone calls?


Unknown said...

recieved a summons today for not having a tv license between 19.04.16 to 20.05.16 i did exsplain i dont watch any bbc channels if i do i watch bbc i player cus then its not live but she told me any channel i watch needs a tv license wich she has stated on the tvl form along with the channel she checked wich was channel 4 think i will take a chance in not guilty?

Admin said...

You do legally need a TV licence if your receive (e.g. watch or record) TV programmes on ANY channel, so the goon was right.
That being the case, there seems little point in pleading not guilty (when you are).

The Devil's Advocate said...


I'm in a bit of a pickle as of tonight. Basically, I cancelled my direct debit for a license about 3 months ago because I don't watch live TV (I watch catchup TV on the odd occasion). My brother, who lives with me, doesn't want live TV either. The license was in my name and I own the house.

We had a visit from a licensing officer tonight, whilst I was out. My brother was intoxicated and basically gave them all of his details (and mine) and for some reason told them that we've been watching live TV for about a month. He even told them what model of TV we've got and how long we've had it. He then signed the form. I am livid because signing that form, I'm guessing, means we have zero defence. I just can't believe he'd admit to us watching live TV.

Anyway, I think the guy told him that we owe £140 for the time that we've not been watching TV and on the form it states that we should buy a license now but that he could still face prosecution.

We've stuffed basically with that false admission of guilt (and when I say it's a false admission then I mean it... idiot!).

I'm guessing that they'll prosecute with that admission as it's a no-brainer. Would my brother get called up or would I? I'm also guessing that it's not worth pleading not-guilty? Any other advice would be greatly welcome (before I throw my brother out of the window).


Admin said...

Hello The Devil's Advocate and thanks for dropping by.
You are correct that your brother has potentially caused a problem for you, so I don't want to fill you with false hope.
However, there are two things that are in your favour:
1. TV Licensing will normally only prosecute the person questioned by the goon, so that means you're off the hook.
2. Even though they have interviewed your brother, it is unlikely he will be prosecuted because TV Licensing has a policy whereby it will only prosecute a normal adult occupier of the unlicensed property.
I would suggest contacting TV Licensing's Prosecution Team and highlighting the points I have mentioned above. Also emphasise the fact that you do not legally need a TV licence, despite whatever your brother may have said.
If TV Licensing decides to press ahead regardless, then you need to plead not guilty and explain the full circumstances to the court, just as you have to me.
Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

How did this end? Sounds very similar to what's happening to me at the moment

The Devil's Advocate said...


In reply to the last message - 'How did this end? Sounds very similar to what's happening to me at the moment':

It turned out OK in the end. I advised my brother to buy a license (on a quarterly basis) and to back-date it by a month. He watches a lot of iPlayer so it seems fair enough to be licensed with the new law. We waited to hear and after about 3 weeks, we received a letter from them stating that they've noted that we're now licensed and as such, they will not be prosecuting this time. The letter was quite stern, as you can imagine, and they advised him to stay licensed as next time they will prosecute.

Btw, thanks for the previous advice Admin.

Enisha said...


I have left UK in Feb 2016 to go back to my home country in Malaysia. I have left my aunt's (distant aunt) holiday address for university correspondence (I only stayed at her place for 2 weeks during the transition of moving from my apartment and our flight home). Recently, a debt collector came to my aunts place to collect debt of £822, supposedly for TV licencing summon. He had threatened to take possession of anything of value from my aunt's flat.

First of all, I do not have a TV. I have told the guy that came to my old apartment that I don't have a TV (this was a few of months before I flew back home). But TV licencing kept sending me demand for a TV licence fee.

Now they are demanding me to pay summons of £822 - I am assuming its summons as I have not mage to get hold of them and inquire the details of the debt collection.

Do I have to pay the debt?

Can he threatened to break down my aunt's door?

What do I do? Its difficult because I am back in my country. Should I tell the debt collector that he has no right to break down my aunt's flat and take her possession.

I want to check with TV licensing first before making any payments. I will not go back to UK anytime soon. I may be back in UK in July 2017 for viva - FYI i am doing my PhD and now doing my research back home. Off course I do not own a TV as I don't have time to watch.

The debt collector says I will be stopped at the airport from entering UK. Is this true?

£822 is a lot of money to pay for an offence you did not committed. But I don't want the debt collector to go banging on my aunt's door. Honestly I have no idea what's really going on?



Unknown said...

We have a box that allows us to watch all tv channels for free, a tv licence man came to the door and my son anwered it and told him we had a tv, he then asked if we had a licence and my son replied with probably...? the man didnt see the tv but will i get any sort if fine or?

Unknown said...

Hi I have been charged with not having a tv licence for one week, the reason for this is I had only just moved into the property from a temporary homeless flat, the man from tv licensing turned up looking for the previous tenant and when I informed him I was the new tenant he asked if I had a licence, I said no not yet and he said no problem I will sign u up now, that was in October 2016 and now I'm getting took to court for it, can anyone help?

Admin said...

It depends what evidence they have against you Colin.
If you have signed their Record of Interview form and confirmed that you have a TV and do not have a licence, then you are going to struggle to convince a Magistrate of your innocence.
Please download our free ebook and have a good read of it.

Anonymous said...

I am looking for some advice. A friend of mine is an Eastern European national, she lives with her partner and 3 children (two of her own and one from her partners previous relationship). She does not speak any English. The licence was on her partner's name. They had a basic Sky package. In July 2016 they changed their provider and the new package did not include any TV, just broadband internet. They only watch cartoons and music videos on youtube, occasionally some foreign soap operas via online cinema sites from their home country. None of it is live TV. They have a TV set and wifi box that allows to connect it to the internet. They stopped paying for the TV licence and in October 2016 TV licence agent came to the house. The lady opened a door and understood that a man is trying to sell her a TV. She tried to say that they are not interested as they already had one. She pointed at the TV set in the lounge. She was trying to get the man to leave but he instead started filling in some forms. The older son who goes to school and speaks some English informed the agent that they sometimes watch foreign TV series and films. They have shown the agent how they watch youtube on the TV. No traces of live TV was found. The son was helping to translate and said that now his mom needs to sign the form to say that everything was ok and they do not need a licence. A few weeks later they received a letter saying that they should be paying TV licence and a payment card. They asked me to help and I called the office to inform that no licence is needed as these people do not watch live TV. I explained that there was misunderstanding during the visit due to a language barrier. I also suggested they send somebody to check the property again. I was told that they were cancelling the payment card and some notes were made in the system. A month later I called again on their behalf to see if the case was settled and no further information required. I was told that they do not see any problem in the system with this address but we must notify them if situation changes and if they start watching TV in future they will need a licence otherwise they might get prosecuted. I specifically asked if they were looking to take any legal action against my friend and the answer was no.
A week ago they received court summons, indication of plea request and means form.
Any advice would be much appreciated

Anonymous said...

Dear Admin,

May I kindly ask for your opinion regarding the situation described above?

Thanks in advance

Admin said...

Your friend needs to submit a plea saying not guilty and be prepared to go to court. The court will then set a trial date. TV Licensing will ask to submit written statements as evidence at the trial, but it would be a good idea to request that the goon appears as a witness in person.
Your friend needs to make the court and TV Licensing aware that there is a language barrier and an interpreter will be required. At court your friend needs to say exactly what you have told us:
- She is aware the legal requirements of a TV licence and does not legally need one.
- The goon exploited her poor English to gather evidence against her. She would not have signed the form had she known the information on it was inaccurate and didn't reflect true events.
- Be aware that the TV Licensing might try to twist things to it's own advantage, but she needs to stick to the key two points above.

Tricia said...

Hi, congratulations on an excellent web site.

TVL have started their little games again and have visited once, though I had headphones on at the time and didn't hear the knock on the door. Such a pity - I love a good argument when I'm 100% in the right.

We have no license because we have no means of receiving a live feed on old analogue gear. I've heard tales of search warrants issued on the basis of false evidence and, as we're not watching the telly (we can't), there can be no true evidence that we are. Should TVL staff commit perjury to obtain a search warrant, who is liable for submitting the false evidence? The officer personally, or TVL corporately? Basically, who can I take to court?


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your response. I will translate your advice to my friend and will give you an update after the hearing.
One more thing I forgot to mention. Their TV is quite old and it does not have a built-in wifi connection. They have a little android box (think it's called TX95) that allows the internet connection. So effectively, the TV becomes a smartTV and the box acts as a wifi adapter. They use TV screen as a monitor to watch cartoons and music videos on youtube, and make Skype video calls. This box is mentioned in the paperwork provided by TVL. I could not find any definite answer online whether you must have a TV licence if you have an android box. It has never been used to watch any live TV and does not have any capability to record programmes.
Any advice or opinion would be much appreciated.
Thanks a lot for finding time to run this blog. It is very useful

Unknown said...

Hi This morning I received a summons for not paying tv licence. A goon visited my property and asked me a few questions where upon I admitted watching tv blah blah. He said I could have a paying card to which I agreed. Now my problem is that because I am self employed and my vehicle I use for work purposes was involved in a car accident, I did not have any money coming in at all, so I paid my priority bills etc. I believe I missed around 4 weeks of payments. I pleaded not guilty because of my predicament but to be honest should I have pleaded guilty I am really not so sure. My financial situation is so bad that a large fine will only make things a lot worse and I fear I will be unable to pay. Pls help


Admin said...

Hello Ty and thanks for your comment.
If you missed any payments then technically you were unlicensed and have committed an offence. That being the case a not guilty plea is not recommended and you should have gone guilty. It is unlikely TV Licensing will throw you a second lifeline, particularly as they've already given you a chance to pay by payment card. You could phone them up and offer to pay for the licence in full and they may drop the prosecution, but it is by no means guaranteed.
Failing that I would change your plea to guilty. The court will take into account your financial circumstances and make the payment terms of any fine as convenient as possible for you.

DJH said...

I thought i was covered it turns out i wasn't (for a couple of months due me cancelling the DD by mistake!)
The "Guy" came and I let him in to see TV equipment but on the interview notes he has submitted it says i didn't allow entry?
He was in my house looking at the equipment and i paid the full amount there and then?
Can i contest on these grounds?
Happy to pay for the time I was uncovered but not £120!!
(do i go Guilty/not guilty? go to court or not?)

Anonymous said...


I have just gone through this myself, I was fined back in 2011 and I had no idea it had happened. I was living at my mother's house and she had a valid licence as I was told, after being on the phone for 4 hours, that there were payments made but somehow my name and my mums was on the licence and I know that only I person can be named. I only found out about this when an enforcement letter came through my postbox and now they have started proceedings to withdraw the case. It's absolutely ridiculous, I want to take the matter further but I'm unsure on which way to go.

Unknown said...

Hello. Back in may a goon came to my door saying i didnt have a licence, i moved in the house in February and infact did go online and set up a licence for quarterly payments put my details in and debit card details but i didnt receive any conformation about it but it wasnt for a few weeks that i realised that and by this time the goon was knocking on my door, stupid me admitted to watching TV because i thought i was licensed as id been online filled the form out etc etc. I explained all this to him and he then turned around to me and said that the TV licence were no longer accepting online renewals and i asked well why have they still got it online and allowing people put there details in etc etc and he just said he didnt know and told me of i signed the form and set up the direct debit there and then all would be fine so stupid me did exactly that.( so he has basically lied to me as ive checked online and they are still allowing people to renew online) Well a month or so later my personal circumstances changed and i cancelled the direct debit as my then partner took his tv's back as we split up so i hadnt used a tv for a while and still dont to this day as i can't afford to buy a new one at the min as only work part time have kids and more important things to pay for! They have sent me a letter to plead guilty or not guilty,i have decided to plead not guilty as i feel i have been lied to by the goon he has basically coned me into signing a form saying i was watching TV but to my knowledge i was licensed as id been online and set it up but it didnt even go through! Yes id cancellwd my direct debit and if they want proof i have no tv they can have it as i have solicitor letters from my ex asking for his Tv's back and receipts that i handed them over. Sometimes i think to just plead guilty but why should i when id been online and done my bit and set it up but its not my fault they didnt send me an email confirming it. Im going to see a solicitor as the goon lied to my face!!

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