Hi Mick, I don’t usually post on this type of thread but my better half has asked me to, so I thought I’d give my two cents.
All I can say is that you need professional advice, and not layman advice/conventional wisdom from a forum such as this (no insult intended to the people who have posted thus far, I include myself in that generalisation).
There are a number of alarm bells ringing from your story and the posts so far. I can honestly say that I don’t know where you stand legally, and I’m sure that no one other than a proper lawyer will know for sure either. However, the posts I agree with most, are Brian’s post #8 (but, as your ‘not wearing a seat belt’ thing seems to be a genuine tug, not necessarily the bit about reporting it stolen) and ZakFT’s post #9.
You mention that the car is legally registered to you, but really owned by your dad. This is what lawyers call a ‘trust’ (or potentially depending on exactly what your dad’s intentions were and his state of mind given his condition, a donatio mortis causa). Either, is completely legal (and has its own rules) and is not a criminal fraud (apologies for disagreeing with Dopper). Anything about “authorities” being “duty bound to report you to your insurance company” and leading to “another fine and inability to get insurance” is conventional wisdom I’d say; it just doesn’t sound right to me.
Saying that though, I do agree with the ‘two sides to a story’. From your story, you seem to admit the driving without a seatbelt thing. AFASK, Driving without a seatbelt is enforceable by the police, and if the procedure to enforce that stops short of proper court, there must have been official letters that you received and ignored. You may still be liable for that unless you are able to appeal/overturn it somehow.
Either way, you do need to stop the bailiffs from treating your dad’s car as your own. Trust property (your dad’s car) is inherently protected by the courts against creditors chasing a trustee (you) for personal debts (the fine, if it is legal), there is much case law on the subject. At this stage, only a court can order the car be returned to you. A solicitor will be able to explain it to you and advise you best. It seems your issue will come down to whether you can prove that your dad did create a trust of his car passing it to you as a trustee, and it was not an outright gift and therefore absolutely yours. Unlike trusts of land, there are no real formalities for creating trusts of personal possessions (when lawyers call personalty) so it will not be easy to evidence it. I.e. Did your dad put the agreement about the car in writing at the time and can you prove that?