Tax or SORN

Tax or SORNNot many people know this….

There is a piece of legislation that seems to be increasingly catching people out. It’s not particularly obscure but DVLA has not exactly shouted about it.

In early 2011 a concept known as Continuous Insurance Enforcement was launched and a fixed penalty system was introduced to try and reduce insurance evasion. It is now an offence to be the Registered Keeper of an uninsured vehicle, and it’s the Keeper who gets the grief.

DVLA carries out searches of the Motor Insurance Database to see which vehicles are not insured. It compares them with its own database of vehicles to see if an offence has been committed.

If you are the registered keeper of a vehicle you must either insure it or declare it off road. Section 22 of the Road Safety Act 2006 imposes statutory insurance requirements on registered keepers and these apply even if the vehicle is incapable of being driven.

To give an example, I recently advised a client who had received a Summons from his local court in proceedings initiated by DVLA Enforcement Centre in Swansea. It alleged that a motorcycle that was registered in his name was not insured and that he was in breach of sections of the Road Traffic Act 1988 as a consequence.

He was surprised to receive the summons because the bike had been written off in an accident some months previously and was effectively in bits in his garage. It was not capable of being ridden and he had not got round to disposing of the parts.

Shortly after the accident he cancelled the insurance policy and claimed a refund. He sensibly thought what was the point in having an immovable bike insured for third party risks if it was never going on the road?

Given its state he gave no thought to declaring it “off road” by completing a Statutory Off Road Notification.

What he did not know was that DVLA carried out a check after he cancelled the policy to see if it had been declared off road. It hadn’t, and DVLA sent the owner a fixed penalty notice followed by a summons to appear in court.

The summons was based on a failure to either insure, or declare off road. I am aware of a few people who have been caught out by this, thinking understandably that it’s a waste of money to insure an immovable vehicle but overlooking the need now to complete a SORN.

Until 2011 it didn’t matter what you did, but now it has to be one or the other and DVLA are picking up on these omissions and starting proceedings. I am aware from seeing papers in these cases that they are not accepting ignorance of the law as an excuse, so beware.



I find myself in a similar situation. After my bike broke down. I let the insurance lapse and just left bike in the garage. Next thing I know, I am getting penalty notices and now a date with the courts. How can I fight it?
Comment by Haroon Rashid - 17th June 2015
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