Legal requirements and rights regarding TV licensing enforcement

Mr Hughes made this Freedom of Information request to British Broadcasting Corporation

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Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

1) Is there a legal obligation or requirement for a person who does not require a TV license to do any of the following:
a) Respond to letters from TV Licensing?
b) Inform TV Licensing that a TV license is not required?
c) Prove to TV Licensing that a TV license is not required?

2) Does a TV Licensing "Enforcement officer" have any right of access to a home without a warrant or invitation?

3) If the answer to #2 is no, would the "Enforcement officer" have the right to enter a home if accompanied by a police officer (but again, still without a warrant or invitation)?

4) In the event of a TV Licensing law being broken, what amount of evidence is required to be gathered before the TV licensing authority will issue a court summons to the law-breaker?

5) If a householder is taken to court over suspected infringement of TV licensing laws, does the burden of proof that a TV license is not required rest upon the defendant? or is it the duty of the enforcement authority to prove that the law has been broken?

6) In the scenario set out in #5, if the defendant is found to be not-guilty, would the defendant be liable for any court costs incurred by the TV licensing authority under any circumstances?

Yours faithfully,

Mr Hughes

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Mr Hughes,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, repeated below, which was received on 25 August
2010. We shall deal with your request as promptly as possible and, at
the latest, within 20 working days. If you have any queries about your
request please contact us at the address below.

The reference number for your request is RFI20101149.

Yours sincerely,
Information Policy and Compliance Team
BBC Freedom of Information
Room 2252
BBC White City
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TS, UK
Email: mailto:[BBC request email]
Tel: 020 8008 2883
Fax: 020 8008 2398

show quoted sections

Peter Jones left an annotation ()

It's always good to get extra evidence from the horse's mouth so to speak, but a lot of those answers are already known:

1) The answer is no for all these questions.
2) No
3) No
4) However much evidence they can fabricate, in a lot of cases.
5) In theory the onus is on TVL to prove the offence. In practice a lot of doddery old Magistrates, confused by TVL's superficial air of authority, take everything they say as gospel.
6) No. If a defendent is found not guilty they would never have to pay the failed prosecution's costs. That's always the case.

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Hughes

Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20101149

<<RFI20101149 - final response.pdf>>

Yours sincerely
Rachel Hallett

BBC Information Policy and Compliance
Room 2252, White City
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TS, UK

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James Moore left an annotation ()

To answer your questions: disclaimer: i am not a solicitor, i am a retired lay advocate in constitutional and civil/family matters

a) no
b) no
c) no

2) absolutely not.

3) no. Only the police officer has the right of entry *with a warrant* to search for items specified on the warrant (ie television equipment that is in use (ie switched on and tuned)). Since non-payment of tv licence fees is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, then the police have no authority or reason to become involved unless there is a proven risk of harm to any party or damage to any property.

4) tvla has no authority to issue a summons. Only a justice of the peace or a magistrate can issue a summons, upon the laying of evidence from a material witness to the complaint. Any summons which does not come from a court, bearing a court seal and the name of the magistrate or his clerk and/or their signature, is fraudulent. Any summons bearing the name of anybody who claims to be the reporting person who was not actually a witness to the offence being reported is also fraudulent.

5) the burden of proof rests solely and entirely with tvla to prove their case.

6) no. In fact, tvla would then be liable for costs.