Penalty Charges and Debt Recovery FAQs

Penalty Charges and Debt Recovery

What happens if I don't pay the toll on time?

If you don’t pay for your journey in advance, or by midnight the day after you cross the bridge, you will receive a Penalty Charge Notice.

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What is a Penalty Charge Notice and why have I received one?

If you have not paid the toll in full by midnight the day after you cross the Mersey Gateway Bridge, a penalty charge of £40 is payable in addition to the price of the toll. You will be notified of this penalty charge through the issue of a Penalty Charge Notice. A Penalty Charge Notice is a legal document and must not be ignored. The Penalty Charge Notice will be issued to the address of the registered keeper or the person identified as being responsible for that vehicle at the time the crossing was made.

 
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I have received a Penalty Charge Notice – how much will I have to pay?

The charges are shown below – to pay the minimum amount of £20 plus the toll fee you need to pay within 14 days.

Time taken to pay Cost of penalty charge
Within 14 days of PCN's date of service  £20 plus unpaid toll fee
Within 28 days of PCN's date of service  £40 plus unpaid toll fee
Within 42 days of PCN's date of service £60 plus unpaid toll fee
Beyond 42 days of PCN's date of service

The penalty is registered as a civil debt.

Recovery action will begin and enforcement agents may be instructed.

The precise cost could run into hundreds of pounds depending on the cost of recovering the debt.

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Can I challenge a Penalty Charge Notice?

All those in receipt of a Penalty Charge Notice are entitled to challenge it. A challenge must be made within 28 days of the date of service by following the guidance given on the back of the Penalty Charge Notice.

The Penalty Charge Notice sets out the formal grounds in which a representation against the penalty charge may be made to Halton Borough Council as charging authority.  Please note: merseyflow administer the toll system on behalf of Halton Borough Council meaning all correspondence and written representations must be sent to merseyflow. Merseyflow will review and make a decision on all representations on behalf of the Council.

You will be told the outcome of your representation within 56 days of the merseyflow receiving it.  If your representation is rejected, you are entitled to appeal against that decision to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. Information on how to appeal will be included in the written notice of rejection.

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How can I challenge a Penalty Charge Notice?

As the Penalty Charge Notice is a legal document, any challenge must be made in writing following the instructions listed on the back of the letter.

If you want to challenge a Penalty Charge Notice we recommend you do so immediately as this action will suspend the process of the Penalty Charge Notice, putting on hold the penalty charge level and time period until a decision is reached on your challenge. If your challenge is denied the penalty charge level and time period will be resumed.

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In what circumstances will the penalty charge payable be reduced?

The penalty charge of £40 will be reduced to £20 if you pay within 14 days of the date of service. You must also pay the outstanding toll. The Penalty Charge Notice will give you details on how to pay the penalty charge and outstanding toll.

If you have not paid the penalty charge and toll within this 14  day period, the penalty charge will revert to £40 plus the toll charge

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What happens if I don’t pay a Penalty Charge Notice within 28 days of issue?


If you don’t pay your Penalty Charge Notice or make a representation against it within 28 days, a Notice to Owner document will be issued offering a further 28 days to pay the increased charge of £40 or opportunity to make a formal representation against it. If you don’t do either, the penalty charge payable will increase further to £60. This charge will be payable in addition to the toll. You will be advised of this increase through the issue of a Charge Certificate. Once a Charge Certificate is issued, you will no longer have a statutory right of appeal. Payment of the increased penalty charge and the toll must be made within 14 days of the date of service of the Charge Certificate.



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Can I challenge a Charge Certificate?

If the Charge Certificate is the first you have heard about the Penalty Charge Notice, you can write to us explaining why you feel you should not have to pay the penalty charge. At this stage we do not have a legal duty to consider your representation but we may consider it if we believe that you have reasonable grounds for making a late representation. We will notify you of our decision within 56 days.

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What happens if I don't pay the increased penalty charge or my late challenge against the charge is not accepted?

If your late representation is not accepted or if you have not paid the Charge Certificate within 14 days of the date of service, an application will be made to the County Court registering the debt.  At this stage an £8 court fee will also become applicable. An Order for Recovery document will be issued advising you of the date in which you must either pay the total outstanding amount or file a witness statement with the County Court in accordance with the instructions provided.

If a payment is not made, or a witness statement submitted within 21 days, the debt may be passed onto enforcement agents.

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What happens if I don't pay the total amount due on the Order for Recovery document or submit a witness statement?

If the penalty charge is still not paid within 21 days and you have not filed a witness statement, an application will be made for the authorisation of a warrant of control to be issued.  This Warrant will be passed to our appointed enforcement agents, Marston Holdings.

If the debt remains unpaid at this stage the amount owed will increase significantly and could run into hundreds of pounds depending on the cost of recovering the debt.

If a debt is passed to Marston Holdings they will send a Notice of Enforcement to the registered keeper of the vehicle in question.

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Who carries out debt enforcement activity?

Merseyflow has appointed Marston Holdings to carry out enforcement activity.

Marston Holdings is a UK-based company that enforces debts in accordance with the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. You can read more about Marston Holdings, the enforcement process and statutory fees on its website.

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Why does merseyflow need to use an enforcement agency?

Unfortunately, there are a small number of people – less than 0.5% of all customers – who don’t pay either their toll fee on time or their penalty charge within 42 days of its service.

It is only fair to the huge majority of people who pay on time that we collect the debt from people who persistently don’t pay.

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What happens if a debt is passed to Marston Holdings?

At this stage, the debt is now handled by Marston Holdings. Anyone receiving a Notice of Enforcement from Marston Holdings will need to pay their debt to them, not to merseyflow.

If a debt is passed to Marston Holdings they will send a Notice of Enforcement to the registered keeper of the vehicle in question.

The costs to anyone who still hasn’t paid by this stage can increase significantly the longer they choose not to pay.

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How much will I have to pay at this stage?

The costs to anyone who still haven’t paid by this stage can increase significantly the longer they choose not to pay.

You will still have to pay your original toll fee(s), the penalty charge(s) and court fee(s), plus any additional costs associated with the enforcement process.

You can read more about Marston Holdings, the enforcement process and statutory fees on its website.

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How do I find out more about the enforcement process?

You can read more about Marston Holdings, the enforcement process and statutory fees on its website.

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