Judge Seamus Hughes has withdrawn costs orders he made against An Post after furiously describing the licensing procedure as misleading.
The judge was visibly angry after two defendants appeared in court after paying for TV licences that didn’t cover them for a full year from the date of purchase.
He initially made costs orders against An Post and accused them of misleading the public, but withdrew the costs orders the following day, saying he was upset by the situation of an older woman who is in receipt of a disability payment.
An Post has since confirmed that when people don’t present a renewal notice they are provided with a new licence which has to be amended later to reflect the actual renewal and expiry dates.
Post office staff can’t backdate a licence without a renewal notice, a spokesperson for An Post said.
At Mullingar District Court on Thursday [June12] the judge was horrified to hear that woman last week paid €160 out of her €188 disability payment for a licence which was valid for just another 19 days.
She said she was aware that it didn’t cover her for a year and needed to be backdated, but that the post office had been unable to backdate it for her.
The court heard that she had applied for a care package which would cover her TV licence but it wasn’t clear if she had been refused or if the application is still under consideration.
She had no licence when an inspector called last November.
Judge Hughes described the situation as a scandal, and questioned why there isn’t a sign with letters six feet high to tell people as vulnerable as the woman before him that their licence won’t cover them for a full year from the date of purchase.
He was furious that what he called “RTÉ gurus” who pay themselves six-figure salaries would take €160 from a woman in receipt of €188 per week for just 19 days.
He questioned whether An Post were in touch with the reality of life as seen before the court and gave An Post 19 days to pay the woman costs of €250.
Earlier a man told the court he was surprised to learn a licence he had bought in November of last year was already out of date in January.
The judge described the situation as an absolute disgrace, and said the man’s TV licence was misleading.
“The sooner An Post change that, the better,” he said, adding that a person with any ounce of intelligence would think that their licence expires on the date specified on the licence.
He dismissed the man’s case, and gave An Post a month to pay him €160, the equivalent cost of a year’s TV.
However when the situation was clarified on Friday, he withdrew both costs orders. He said he had been particularly upset by the woman’s case.