Term-Time Holiday Ruling: Jon Platt Sets Up Company To Help Other Parents Get Refunds On Fines
Dad John Platt who won a High Court term-time holiday ruling after refusing to pay his £120 fine hopes to help hundreds of other parents claim their fines back.
Platt, 44, from the Isle of Wight, has set up a company called School Fines Refunds Limited to recover money that has been “unlawfully fined”.
He said parents have contacted him “in their hundreds” about the issue and wants his new company to take on these claims.
“Today I formed a new company: School Fines Refunds Limited,” Platt wrote on Facebook on 5 June.
“As the name suggests it has been formed for the limited and specific purpose of helping parents in England & Wales to get a refund of the ‘school fines’ that were imposed on them because local authorities alleged (unlawfully) that they had committed an offence under s444 of the Education Act 1996.”
Platt said he wants to get an idea of how many parents have been affected by these term-time holiday fines and has asked them to get in touch.
He also said after he won his high-court ruling against paying the fine for taking his daughter out of school in May 2016, he thought local councils would offer to refund fines imposed on parents.
“Not one has offered to do this. That is just not fair,” he wrote.
“Thousands of parents need to stand together in a group litigation and make them do the right thing.
“I am not at all certain I can make a penny at this, indeed it might cost me tens of thousands of pounds of my own money.”
Speaking about the launch of his company, Platt told BBC Radio 4 programme You & Yours: “Local authorities are fining people based upon a single day – or two days, or sometimes five days – of unauthorised absence when they had no reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence had been committed.
“And hundreds of thousands of parents have paid millions of pounds in fines when they did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Platt won his case against Isle of Wight Council when they tried to charge him £120 for taking his youngest daughter on an eight-day trip to Florida.
Platt fought the decision, claiming he should avoid punishment because his daughter has an exemplary attendance record.
“I hadn’t committed a criminal offence. The law simply says your children must attend school regularly and mine have,” he explained on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Platt was cleared by Isle of Wight magistrates, but the council took the case to the High Court to seek clarification on what constitutes regular attendance.
The High Court ruling cleared Platt, suggesting that other parents were able to argue against term-time holiday penalties in the future.
Following a government crackdown on term-time absences in 2013, parents taking children out of school without permission were told they could be issued with a £60 fine per child.
If that fine is not paid within 21 days it rises to £120 and after 28 days it will be claimed through reductions in child benefit.
Those who fail to pay can face prosecution.