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Transport for London (17 017 046)

Category : Transport and highways > Public transport

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 12 Mar 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot consider this complaint about a prosecution for irregular use of an oyster card. This is because the case has been considered in court. The Ombudsman cannot investigate any matter that has been considered in court.

The complaint

  1. Mrs B disagrees with the Authority’s decision to prosecute her for alleged wrongful use of an oyster card. Mrs B says the Authority failed to send her any correspondence telling her it intended to prosecute her. As a result, she says she was unable to defend herself in court.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint about the start of court action or what happened in court. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5/5A, paragraph 1/3, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered what Mrs B said in her complaint.
  2. I considered information provided by the Authority. This included copies of correspondence with Mrs B and the Court. Mrs B has had the opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. In August 2017, a bus inspector stopped Mrs B and said she was using a non-transferable oyster card which the Authority had not issued to her. The inspector took the oyster card off her and charged her for the bus journey.
  2. The inspector sent the report to the Authority’s prosecution team who wrote to Mrs B and asked her to provide information about the incident. The letter warned Mrs B that the Authority might take legal proceedings against her.
  3. Mrs B did not reply to the letter and so the Authority proceeded with the prosecution. Mrs B’s case was heard in the Magistrates’ Court in January 2018. The Court found in the Authority’s favour and wrote to Mrs B with its decision.
  4. Mrs B complained to the Authority and said she had not received any information since the incident in August 2017. The Authority advised her to contact the Court.
  5. Mrs B contacted the Court which told her to request her case was reopened. Mrs B submitted this request in writing. The Authority told the Court it would offer no evidence to support its case.

Analysis

  1. I cannot start an investigation because this case has been considered in court. The Ombudsman cannot investigate any matter that has been considered in court.
  2. Mrs B has asked the Court to reopen the case and has provided evidence to support her request. It is for the Court to decide what action to take and the Ombudsman has no power to comment on the matter or intervene.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint. This is because the matter has been considered in court.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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