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I am a UK resident and during a road-trip I made to Italy I (unknowingly) went to a restricted road which I was not allowed to go in. This apparently resulted in me being liable for a fine. However I was not actually aware of this when I did it since the system that flagged me was an automated camera based system. This apparently resulted in Italian authorities cooperating with UK authorities to track me down to send me the fine.

This apparently happened about a year ago and the Italian authorities ended up sending a tracked, signed for, letter containing the fine I was liable for. However I never received this letter. I became aware of this whole timeline when I was more recently contacted by a UK based collection agency which was employed by Italian authorities to collect the fine plus deadline increase and Late Payment Charges. This had made the fine significantly more than it was originally.

The agency sent me proof that the package was delivered and signed for. For context, in the UK the signature happens on a touchscreen and the mailman also fills in the name of the person who made the signature. In this particular case the signature was not mine and neither was the receipient's name, nor was it of any person I know or recognise (in fact it was just 3 letters, maybe initials, no idea who they belong to though). I informed the collection agency that since I was not made aware of the fine the first time around I should only be liable for the original fine, without any extra expenses or increases however this was their response to me:

[...] as far as we are concerned you received the original notice our client sent out to yourself.

This therefore means that whoever has signed for it on your behalf has made you liable for the deadline increase and also any Late Payment Charges our client have decided to add on the account.

Now I am not a lawyer nor do I claim to understand the nuances of the law, but this has struck me as very strange and hard to believe.

Therefore I am wondering if this is true, does signing for a letter that is not addressed to you make the person it is addressed to liable for its contents? Does this even apply if a letter is delivered to the wrong address by mistake? Is there any relevant precedent to support the collection agencies claim or are they making this claim in order to do whatever it takes to collect as much money as possible?

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It it was delivered to your residence, you received it

The evidence from Royal Mail that the package was delivered to a given address is very strong to the point of being almost irrefutable. It doesn't matter who signed for it; if it was your residence the, legally, you received it.

  • What if I never actually received it though? Does the proof of delivery still prove it was delivered correctly even if it was misdelivered by mistake? – apokryfos Jan 2 at 21:46
  • If it came to your home - you received it in law. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t receive it in fact - you are responsible for ensuring that things addressed to you and delivered to your residence get to you. – Dale M Jan 2 at 22:13
  • If it never arrived to my residence it's a different matter I assume which is what I suspect happened here. The letter was signed for. No one living here signed for it and royal mail does not actually just slip stuff through the mailbox if they need signature in my experience. – apokryfos Jan 2 at 22:20
  • If it had the right address and was signed for then it was, legally, delivered to that address, even if it wasn’t. You would need to provide compelling evidence of share it was delivered, not claim that it wasn’t delivered where it was addressed. – Dale M Jan 2 at 23:52
  • Such compelling evidence might be: corroborating testimony from the delivery person; if by chance they have gps trackers on the digital pads items are signed for you might be able to show where the delivery was actually made (or even the vehicle, if they were way off); identifying the person who signed for it, by the previous methods or other things. I'm not sure on the particulars of the UK legal system, but I suspect even with such evidence you'd still have to pay the full value demanded, and you'd have to sue the royal mail for the resulting damages. – zibadawa timmy Jan 3 at 6:23

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