Back in 2010, we wrote about the problems with the DVLA (where do you start, right?) and how, if you send them a letter and they lose it, they'll blame you. Their off-road notification system was described back then as “a shambles” and “legally unenforceable” and in “administrative chaos”, and it looks like nothing much has changed.
There's have been court cases which have shown the DVLA had been acting unlawfully concerning drivers who have failed to notify them when they've taken their vehicle off the road (SORN) and judges have agreed that it isn't the driver's fault that the DVLA or the Royal Mail have lost letters.
Drivers, judges have said, shouldn't have to pay for recorded deliveries every time they send a letter and, indeed, they shouldn't have to ring to confirm letters have been received by the DVLA either. Imagine a scenario where everyone has to send everything by recorded delivery AND ring up to make sure letters have been received by companies. That way, madness lies.
A spokesman for the DVLA said: "The DVLA does not impose any requirements for customers to obtain proof of posting or use recorded delivery in their dealings with us. However, and this is a key point, the onus is on the customer to ensure their off-road notification is delivered to DVLA."
"With reference to non-receipt of acknowledgement letters by customers, there is no legal obligation on the customer to contact DVLA if they do not receive their acknowledgement letter. However, and another key point, we do advise customers to contact us if this happens so that we can confirm if their notification has been delivered to us or advise them otherwise how to comply".
However, the DVLA will still send bailiffs and threaten drivers and we've had people getting in touch with us about more trouble with this absolute shower. To add insult to injury, they've also been selling everyone's personal details and pocketed £25 million in the bargain.
After 4 years and judges deciding in favour of the drivers, the DVLA are still losing drivers' log-books and letters and then sending threatening letters and asking for hundreds of pounds. One of our readers got in touch to say that the DVLA had "lost identity documents of both my kids!" and if you look at these comments, you'll see that things are a mess.
So what can you do?
Well, if your case goes to court, or indeed, you want to tell the DVLA on the phone how the law works, you can say that you have indeed sent your letter and, according to the law of the land, the Interpretation Act 1978 Section 7 says: "Where an Act authorises or requires any document to be served by post (whether the expression “serve” or the expression “give” or “send” or any other expression is used) then, unless the contrary intention appears, the service is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post."
In English, if you say you've sent a letter, then it is assumed that it was received the next working day (if sent first class). Unless the DVLA can prove they DIDN'T receive it, then by law, it is accepted that it was delivered to them.
If you'd like to make a complaint about the DVLA, then ironically, you have to do it in writing. You should give your full name and address, your date of birth or driver number, the vehicle registration, make and model (if the case is about a vehicle) and your phone number and send your complaint to: Customer Services Manager, DVLA, Swansea SA7 0EE.
You're right not to trust them with a letter, so you can complain online and fill in the form here. The DVLA aim to answer complaints within two weeks. In all complaints, you can always ask to be referred to an independent complaints assessor or get your MP to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
We'll keep tabs on this and remember: don't let the DVLA shove you around. It is mostly empty threats and they will try to get you to pay a smaller fine by threatening you with a larger one. If you have fulfilled your side of the bargain, don't budge.