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Euro Parking Collection fine

Can EPC force payment in Sweden?

Alohart
post 11.Aug.2014, 04:59 PM
Post #1
Location: Uppsala
Joined: 25.Oct.2007

In mid-May, I drove into Hungary not realizing that I needed to purchase a vignette to drive legally on Hungarian toll roads. After my registration plate was photographed as I drove on a toll road, the Hungarian National Toll Payment Services (HNTPS) sent a registered letter to my Swedish address assessing me a fine of 436 SEK for driving on a toll road without a valid vignette. Fair enough… Posten required me to pick up this letter within 2 weeks. However, I was still driving through Europe, so did not know that I had received a registered letter. When I returned home on 1 July, I found the Posten registered letter notice, but it was too late to pick up the letter. Posten's registered letter notice did not indicate who the sender was, so I could do nothing.

In late July, I received another notice from Posten for a registered letter which I picked up on 4 August. This letter was from Euro Parking Collection (EPC) demanding that I pay a 2,137 SEK fine plus a 281 SEK administrative fee (5 times the original fine!) because I had ignored the HNTPS letter that I had never received and knew nothing about. I appealed to EPC explaining what had occurred, but EPC told me that not receiving the HNTPS letter had no bearing on EPC's payment demand. EPC threatened to use a local (i.e. Swedish) collection agency to force me to pay (would that be Kronofogden?).

I contacted HNTPS offering to pay the original 436 SEK fine to HNTPS but not to EPC but have received no response yet. I don't consider being required to pay 5 times the original fine fair under the circumstances. However, if HNTPS refuses my offer to pay (likely) and I refuse to pay the outrageous amount that EPC is demanding (likely), what consequences am I likely to face? I am an American citizen, live in Sweden only part-time with permanent resident status, have no Swedish income, but do own a Swedish apartment, have a Swedish driver license, and have a car registered in Sweden.

I would appreciate your advice.
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Essingen55
post 11.Aug.2014, 06:34 PM
Post #2
Joined: 12.Dec.2013

Let me state that I am not certain that this advice is correct.

Given that the fine is from a state agency, it might be slightly trickier than if it were from a private company. Normally in most countries, you can ignore debt collectors for parking fees and the only option open is for you to be taken to court. My understanding is that if they do this and you plead not guilty, then even if the case goes against you, the Hungarians would have to approach a Swedish court to enforce the judgement. If they did that, and the Swedish court did so, then you'd be stuffed.

However, I might not be correct in this. I would wait until you get something from a local debt collection agency before worrying.

This may be useful too...

http://forums.pepipoo.com/lofiversion/index.php/t52117.html
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skogsbo
post 11.Aug.2014, 09:06 PM
Post #3
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

I think it is the standard company that countries use. I know Norway use them to collect road tolls on Swedish Vehicles. What happens if you don't pay, not sure is the answer, as I've always paid. It will go up if you don't pay in 3mths and quite considerably too.
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TLSucks
post 11.Aug.2014, 10:54 PM
Post #4
Joined: 12.Dec.2013

EU debt collection is pretty streamlined nowadays so it is a big chance they will be able to collect the money through Kronofogden, but it is unlear if it is worth their effort. If you contest the debt then Kronofogden will pass it on to a small claims court. The late fees seem out of proportion.
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LLHope
post 11.Aug.2014, 11:08 PM
Post #5
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 1.Jan.2014

QUOTE (TLSucks @ 11.Aug.2014, 10:54 PM) *
they will be able to collect the money through Kronofogden, but it is unlear if it is worth their effort.

Anyone that understands how debt collection works in Sweden will know that it isn't an effort. They have already identified the debtor, all other costs for recovery will just be added to the debt. If a court order for recovery is issued (even in another Member State) then Kronofogden can action it. Just to put it in perspective, you have a car and you have an apartment. If needed they can seize either and sell the asset to recover the money. And before you ask, yes they have been known for force property sales for minor debts.
The normal first move is to go direct to your employer and have the money deducted directly from your salary.
Is the trouble worth it for a couple of thousand?
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TLSucks
post 11.Aug.2014, 11:18 PM
Post #6
Joined: 12.Dec.2013

QUOTE (LLHope @ 11.Aug.2014, 10:08 PM) *
Anyone that understands how debt collection works in Sweden will know that it isn't an effort. They have already identified the debtor, all other costs for recovery will j ... (show full quote)


It is still an administrative procedure, although minor, but EPC is likely used to the paperwork.
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LLHope
post 11.Aug.2014, 11:37 PM
Post #7
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 1.Jan.2014

QUOTE (TLSucks @ 11.Aug.2014, 10:18 PM) *
It is still an administrative procedure, although minor, but EPC is likely used to the paperwork.


This is exactly what EPC's business is!

OP, if it isn't paid they will take it to court for enforcement in the member state where the offence was committed. If that local court issues a judgement for collection then according to EU Directives that judgement is enforceable in other Member States, so they then just pass it to Kronofogden which is the enforcement agency in Sweden.

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Essingen55
post 12.Aug.2014, 08:04 AM
Post #8
Joined: 12.Dec.2013

QUOTE
If that local court issues a judgement for collection then according to EU Directives that judgement is enforceable in other Member States,


I seem the remember that when I looked at this there are two different processes...

1. If the accused doesn't respond at all to the court case in the other member state, then the process for enforcing in Sweden would be relatively easy.

2. If the accused pleads not guilty in the court case in the other member state, then the process here in Sweden would be more complicated.

Do you know if this is correct?

Going back to the original problem however, it seems manifestly unfair that the guy has to pay this increased charge simply because they sent a registered letter that the Swedish post office doesn't retain for more than two weeks during the summer. There was no way of avoiding it unless he had bought the post office's service for storing post and why should he do that unless he was expecting some parcels?

Two weeks of storage during the summer months is unreasonably short.
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LLHope
post 12.Aug.2014, 10:18 AM
Post #9
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 1.Jan.2014

QUOTE (Essingen55 @ 12.Aug.2014, 07:04 AM) *
2. If the accused pleads not guilty in the court case in the other member state, then the process here in Sweden would be more complicated.

No.
Pleading not guilty only means they have to prove otherwise. Sometimes they cannot produce datable evidence and might drop the case, but this sounds like they have photographic evidence. If the court rules guilty, then it doesn't matter if the accused pleads innocent!

QUOTE (Essingen55 @ 12.Aug.2014, 07:04 AM) *
Going back to the original problem however, it seems manifestly unfair that the guy has to pay this increased charge simply because they sent a registered letter that the Swed ... (show full quote)

The law is not made to be followed at your convenience! as the saying goes, ignorance is no excuse.
If you buy a car and plan to drive it in Sweden then you are obliged to learn and understand the rules and regulations for doing so. If you plan to drive your car in another country then you are obliged to understand the rules and regulations in that country. It isn't designed to suit vacation or post-office processing. They track you down, send a registered letter to confirm you received it, it wasn't picked up within 10 days, increases the administration costs for collecting the penalty. Ignorance is not an excuse... and neither is vacation wink.gif
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Essingen55
post 12.Aug.2014, 10:31 AM
Post #10
Joined: 12.Dec.2013

Here is a well written and easy to understand guide to the various procedures...

http://ec.europa.eu/civiljustice/publicati...ntaliers_en.pdf

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Essingen55
post 12.Aug.2014, 10:59 AM
Post #11
Joined: 12.Dec.2013

QUOTE
They track you down, send a registered letter to confirm you received it, it wasn't picked up within 10 days, increases the administration costs for collecting the penalty. Ignorance is not an excuse... and neither is vacation


What a load of bollocks. It doesn't increase the cost of collection by a factor of five. If I miss paying the first invoice in Sweden there is legislation in place to determine what happens, a reasonable maximum charge for sending a reminder invoice is stipulated.

One could also argue that the first communication with him should have been by ordinary letter...the fact that they choose to do it by registered letter is their own free choice because they are assuming that an international debtor represents a greater risk of default, an assumption that in itself is not reasonable.

Many European countries are using this sort of thing quite simply to raise revenues. He should stick to gives guns, offer to pay the original fine and dispute the rest. In fact, it could easily be the case that a Swedish court refuses to enforce debt that has been incurred when a claiming party hasn't followed the same standard of invoice reminder rules as exist here domestically. That would be my defence in a strongly worded letter to them.
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Alohart
post 12.Aug.2014, 11:03 AM
Post #12
Location: Uppsala
Joined: 25.Oct.2007

QUOTE (Essingen55 @ 12.Aug.2014, 09:04 AM) *
Going back to the original problem however, it seems manifestly unfair that the guy has to pay this increased charge simply because they sent a registered letter that the Swed ... (show full quote)

That summarizes my feelings exactly. I admit that I committed the offense of driving on a toll road without a valid vignette. I was given no opportunity to respond to this charge and am now being treated like those who ignore the first notification through no fault of my own.

One solution would be for Posten to actually deliver the registered letter to one's address after the period to pick up the letter has passed. Registered delivery would not occur, but I would have received the letter when I returned and would have contacted the sender to settle the case.

Another would be for Posten's registered letter notification to indicate the sender and his address. In this case, I would have been able to contact the sender to find out the nature of the registered letter.

Another would be for the sender to have sent one registered letter and a second duplicate letter by regular mail so that I would have received it when I returned. Because Posten doesn't reveal the sender in its registered mail notification, the recipient would still pick up the registered letter if he was in town.

I have had no luck trying to reason with either HNTPS or EPC. I feel a bit like the many who have complained that EPC has demanded payment of a fine for a parking violation in another EU country that they were unaware of committing. Once EPC is involved, it seems that one must pay what they demand or face problems in the future regardless of the circumstances. This makes me leery of taking another long road trip through Europe.
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skogsbo
post 12.Aug.2014, 11:08 AM
Post #13
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

QUOTE (LLHope @ 12.Aug.2014, 10:18 AM) *
, but this sounds like they have photographic evidence. If the court rules guilty, then it doesn't matter if the accused pleads innocent!

every overseas bill I've ever received has had the photo included on the letter. As you said early, this is their business and they are pretty efficient at it.

So I would only presume that if you didn't pay it, they will continue to pursue and escalate matters as required. They simply wouldn't set up and business if they couldn't make money, their margin on collecting the tolls will be very small at the outset, the admin fees for late payments etc is where they'll make their money.
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Essingen55
post 12.Aug.2014, 12:33 PM
Post #14
Joined: 12.Dec.2013

Look...lets make this clear. This company is a load of UK tossers.

OK I suggest that you current courses of action have been very sensible - offering to pay the original fine.

I suggest that you send a registered letter to both organisations stating the following...

1. Admitting the original offence and pointing out you are happy to pay the original fine on receipt of an invoice.
2. Pointing out that no reminder for the original invoice was sent, but that the case was instead passed immediately to a debt collection agency. This is in conflict with Swedish law which states that a reminder must be sent after the due date for payment and the payor then has 30 days to make the payment. Only at that stage can the case be passed to a debt collection agency, whose costs are then regulated in law.

3. Point out that the issuing of excessive monetary demands by EPC 10 days after a single invoice has been sent is illegal in Sweden and that any further demands for excessive illegal payments will be reported to the Swedish police.

The address for the EPC can be found here...

http://www.epcplc.com/about.php

I'll eat my hat if this doesn't work.
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Hisingen
post 12.Aug.2014, 12:54 PM
Post #15
Location: Västra Götaland
Joined: 5.Jul.2012

QUOTE (Essingen55 @ 12.Aug.2014, 12:33 PM) *
- - -3. Point out that the issuing of excessive monetary demands by EPC 10 days after a single invoice has been sent is illegal in Sweden and that any further demands for exce ... (show full quote)

Can't reply from any personal experience, nor am I any barrack-room lawyer but - bearing in mind the way Gbg and Stockholm via Trafikverket make their demands for their congestion tax, combined with their 'late payment' fee, I fail to see where you reach the conclusion that such is 'excessive or illegal' in Sweden.

To the OP, I would suggest you pay up and be done with it. It will hurt your pocket, but will save you from one hell of a lot of further bother, and possible heartache as well.
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