Is a Rail or Byelaw penalty a debt that can be collected by a parking company?
Our view is it is not. Child Poverty Action Group in its extensive and widely used guide to debt says
If the consequence of non-payment is that the client [e.g driver or owner] may be summonsed to the magistrates court and prosecuted for an offence, the penalty charge is an invitation to pay in order to avoid a conviction and is not a debt at all because non-payment is unenforceable as such. Any subsequent conviction could lead to a fine which would be a debt.
The letter from the parking company is the parking company acting as a debt collector for the Train Operating Company (TOC) and there is no debt until such times as there has been a summons, a conviction and a fine. Not all convictions lead to a fine.
So the following points apply
1. The Parking company and their debt collectors are involved in misleading drivers into believing it is the parking company's "debt" when there is no debt at all.
2. The Parking company and their debt collectors are involved in misleading drivers into believing it is the parking company's "debt" when it can only be decided at magistrates court and as such the fine would belong to the Court and not the parking company or the TOC.
3. Byelaws are "subordinate legislation and can only be changed with the agreement of a Secretary of State.