Monday, 30 December 2013

PATAS - w/c 23 Dec 13 - a short week

There were hearings on only 1 day in this week, and 3 cases processed by postal decision on Xmas Eve. The upshot was 14 PCN cancelled and 12 upheld.

The more notable cancellation cases were:

- not clear that the suspension sign was clear and adequate

- the traffic warden was not prevented by some person from issuing a PCN and so the right to serve it by post did not exist

- no clear reason for the existence of a dropped kerb in Grahame Park Way, just because a pedestrian might use it doesn't mean it was for that purpose (there can't be a similar dropped kerb on the opposite side of the road0

- no evidence that the Saracens Event Day zone was properly signed

- a lady who uses the PayByPhone app and only has one registered car was found not to be at fault when payment did not show up.

- formal representations were rejected but they weren't representations

- a blue badge was found to have been on display

- council referred to single yellow lines not double so hadn't properly considered representations

- an adjudicator phoned a witness to confirm the story of a traffic warden having walked off without issuing a PCN (it is unusual for an adjudicator to do this, normally you would submit a signed written statement by the witness or take them along to the hearing).

What will 2014 bring in the way of adjudications? Stay with me to find out.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Friday, 27 December 2013

PATAS - w/c 16 December - the council win 55%
It had to happen and finally, just before Xmas, Barnet Council managed to win 55% of the 92 cases that were adjudicated that week (there were also 2 cases subject to recommendation to cancel but I leave those aside as they aren't finished).
So for a change I will tell you why motorists lost their appeals and what they might have been able to do about it, if anything.
- Being in a bus lane. Stay out of it during the hours of operation (simple but obvious, sorry).
- The vehicle was on hire. The hirer didn't provide proof and should have done. The adjudicators are more readily convinced by paper evidence than by mere words.
- Claimed the PCN plastic wallet was empty. That may well have been the case but you still need a better argument than that as the Notice to Owner also sets out the alleged contravention details and although the PCN may have been removed by the traffic warden after issue and taken away your chance of paying at the 50% rate, you just have to take that on the chin and start looking for why the contravention did not occur. Traffic wardens doing such a thing could become a thing of the past if everyone who doesn't get their PCN takes it to PATAS which causes extra work and cost for the council. The motorist is already in for the full penalty so has nothing to lose by pursuing an appeal to PATAS.
- Claimed to have paid but didn't provide any proof. You need to produce copies of your texts and credit or debit card transactions to show that payment was duly made.
- Didn't realise was inside a CPZ. If all the single yellow lines don't have timeplates then you are probably inside a CPZ and you need to track back to the point where you passed a large CPZ entry sign to see what times apply to the single yellow lines (unless they have their own time plate which takes priority) or park in a car park or other pay to park bay.
- In a motorcycle bay. Don't park in it unless you are riding a powered two wheeler. It is free to park one in Barnet.
- On footpath. Just don't ever put a wheel on the pavement, ever.
- Had a blue badge on display but there was a sign saying No Loading. As well as the sign there should also be flashes of yellow paint across the kerb. The missing flashes, or the missing sign, could be your escape route from such a PCN.
- Across a dropped kerb. Don't park across a dropped kerb except with the permission of the householder and only then outside CPZ hours (OK if outside a CPZ with permission at any time) and only when the dropped kerb serves one home. If you are visiting a block of 4 flats where only one person drives you cannot park across the dropped kerb even with the permission of that one driver. The council should only issue PCN for dropped kerbs serving one home at the request of the home occupier. If you are genuinely parked get the home occupier to write to the council and ask them why they are giving out PCN when not requested and put a copy of this letter in your evidence to PATAS.
- Witness statement TE9 submitted but not supported by evidence of prior appeal. If you file a witness statement to take the PCN back to an earlier stage and say that you submitted representations i9n response to the Notice to Owner then be ready and prepared to produce them. If you didn't keep a copy (which you always should) then do your best to produce what your memory says you sent and when you sent it. The council don't have a copy after all. There is no point in filing the TE( and then not providing backup to your case; you will simply be told to pay the PCN although the 50% uplift and the extra £7 will probably go away (but not if you have abused the procedure).
- PaidByPhone for the wrong vehicle. Go online and tidy up your vehicles if you get a new one, delete the old one to stop it happening. If you have more than one then double check every time you pay or try to use debit/credit card meters if there are any because that way the error cannot occur.
- Vehicle parked more than 50cm from the kerb. This contravention is hard to argue against. Check the council's photos online and make sure the entire car is that far away, a single part of the car that is less will stop the PCN. So don't park in the middle of the road on some white cross hatchings and do park reasonably close to the kerb at all times.
- Permit falls off the windscreen. It is the failure to display that is the offence not the failure to buy a permit. Always attach your resident permit to the windscreen using the backing it comes with (it will last at least a year) or if you print out your own permit at home don't leave it flapping about on the dashboard but cut it out and put it into a plastic wallet or sellotape it to the windscreen. You can buy permit holders and parking ticket clips very cheaply on ebay.
- No proof of when the vehicle was purchased. You simply have to prove that you purchased the vehicle after the PCN was issued (or sold before the PCN was issued) by some method, by documents if possible.
- Not unloading. If you are a business it should be a simple matter to produce a professional looking invoice and/or delivery note to evidence that you were collecting or delivering goods. As an individual it might be harder. People delivering to charity shops often get caught but the manager will probably give you a letter as they want you to donate again in the future. If you were delivering something for a friend get them to write out a letter saying what you were doing for them.
- In a disabled bay without a blue badge. you simply shouldn't do this. If you had a blue badge but forgot to put it out the council might let you off but the adjudicator can't as you did commit the contravention. You will need something to be procedurally wrong with the council's paperwork.
- Double yellow line was substantially compliant. Don't take risks with lines that are a little worn and think that you'll get away with it as if the message is clear, albeit a bit battered, the adjudicator might find that you chose to ignore the obvious message.
There are still a few odd days of adjudications to go this year. If you are going to complete the PATAS form you really do need to do a thorough job of producing your evidence to give yourself the best chance. Try and rustle up more than one argument as you only need one to work so having three will greatly improve your chances.
Yours appealingly
Miss Feezance

Monday, 16 December 2013

PATAS - w/c 9 Dec 13 - 104 cases

What a busy week. 55 PCN were cancelled, 48 were upheld and one is in limbo whilst the council to decide if they will follow the recommendation to cancel. A 53% win rate, which is lower than usual.
Some of the PCN were cancelled for the following reasons: 
  • the council were unable to show sufficient records about what was paid for by phone
  • there was no proof it was an event day (3 times)
  • council evidence was uncertain in 2 separate cases
  • a PCN from 19/4/11 was too old to pursue
  • an offence that lasted more than 24 hours was treated as one continuous offence
  • a suspension sign written in ink was washed away
  • unloading
  • the vehicle in the bus lane was an 8 seater (don't rely on this one)
  • there hadn't been an offer of violence before a driveaway that led to a postal PCN
  • a car with a for sale sign within it is not committing an offence
  • the evidence pack was sent to the wrong address
  • the case summary was not of assistance
  • a 9 seater in the bus lane (3 times - still don't rely on this)
  • unclear photographs and no other real evidence
  • sign obscured by bins
  • foot way not obviously dropped for one of the usual 3 reasons
So this week turned out to be about the same for motorists as if everyone had paid the 50% within the first 14 days although the council had to spend £4,000 in fees to PATAS who manage the adjudication process so they were definitely worse off. If you had missed the 14 days in which to pay the 50% then you as a motorist might as well always take your case to PATAS as it is just a question of a simple form to complete which might lead to you paying £nil if you win and the full amount of the ticket if you lose which you were by then liable for in any event.
If in doubt, appeal.
Yours appealingly
Miss Feezance

Monday, 9 December 2013

PATAS - w/c 2 Dec 13 - Commonality

In this week there were 86 appeals, two of which were the subject of a recommendation to cancel, 51 PCN were cancelled and 33 upheld. A 61% success rate.
There were some common themes.
There were 4 PCN for the Saracens Event Day Zone. Now there are none that survive. That tells you it is worth the trouble to appeal all the way to PATAS.
There were 3 cases where the PCN was sent by post because the  motorist drove away. All 3 were cancelled as the traffic warden wasn't prevented from giving the PCN to the driver or affixing it to the windscreen. If you get a driveaway postal PCN, that is also well worth appealing. The council look to be issuing PCN by post when they should not do so, they should treat those motorists as the ones who got away and just tell tall tales about them in the pub.
There were 4 PCN which had been issued between July 2010 (it was on papyrus) and August 11. All of them are too old for a legal enforcement as the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the Human Rights Act has been compromised by the passage of time.
Then there were some one-offs.
One poor motorist got the bay reference number wrong and paid Westminster £11.10 instead of £7 to Barnet (that illustrates how relatively expensive the leafy outer London suburb of Barnet has become). What this PCN illustrates is that the bay numbers should be in blocks so that at least payment is made to the correct borough (Westminster have no legal right to a payment made under mistake, the motorist can reclaim it) and that technology is not being used for the benefit of the motorist. The telephone knows it is in Barnet by the GPS co-ordinates so PayByPhone could use that data, with the phone holder's permission, to limit the bay numbers to which payment could be made (with a manual override if you are paying from elsewhere, perhaps you left your car in the car park to recover tomorrow as you went to the pub on a whim one evening).
An appeal illustrated the misleading nature of the on-line payment method. Do make sure you press the confirm button when you are on the Payment Confirmation page.
A suspension sign at low level was held to be unfair and the PCN was cancelled.
The next case should not have reached PATAS. The council knew when they dropped the kerb. They were simply hoping that the motorist didn't.
The appellant Mr K attended the personal hearing listed for today. I found him to be a sincere and honest witness.

He stated that he is a local resident and that although he was aware that his neighbours with whom he has a good relationship were going to drop the kerb and the residents bay was eventually going to be removed he had not received any advance warning of when this would take place. At the time he parked his vehicle the bay markings were still present as was the residents bay signage which permitted parking during the restricted hours to residents displaying a residents permit which he states was displayed in is vehicle.

I have looked at the photographic evidence. I can still clearly see the residents bay road markings which I find to make the signage at the location to be confusing.

I am therefore not satisfied that the contravention did occur and allow this appeal.
A nurse who was unloading heavy equipment for her patient at home saw her PCN cancelled. How on earth is home care to be provided if one public servant is at the mercy of a different one?
Keep those appeals coming. They are worth the time and trouble.
Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

PATAS - w/c 25 Nov 13 - Charge!

Charge (certificate)

In this week 50 cases were decided and another 3 were the subject of recommendations to cancel. 32 of the 50 means 64% of the PCN were cancelled.
One case was simply misleading so the PCN was cancelled.
A car that got a parking ticket in Barnet was proved to be in Beaconsfield so must have been cloned. How come Barnet Council / NSL can't see this before the case gets to PATAS?
The adjudicator was most unimpressed with a case of parking outside of a marked bay:

The Appellant did not attend to present his appeal in person. In the light of what can be seen in the photographs I regard this as a case where the principle of de minimis ( i.e legal insignificance) should be applied, particularly in the case of a disabled badge holder otherwise entitled to park on the adjacent yellow line. A Council which seeks to enforce a penalty in such a situation merely fuels the widespread public impression that PCNs are issued for purposes of revenue raising rather than traffic management. No doubt the Appellant will take care to ensure his wheels are exactly within the bay in future.
The software used by Barnet Council / NSL is either not much cop or not very well set up in terms of parameters as it keeps issuing Charge Certificates too early. here is what the adjudicator said about one:
I have heard the appellant in person who I find an honest and credible witness. The Authority did not appear and was not represented.

The Enforcement Authority has provided notes and photographs. They inform me that the vehicle was parked on a single yellow line within a controlled parking zone (CPZ). They have provided a site map and photograph of signage.

The appellant claims that signage was confusing. He relies on a nearby pay by phone time plate which indicates restrictions commence at 13:30 on a Sunday.

in the appellant informs me that he received a notice of rejection dated 17 October 2013 and a charge certificate dated 18 October 2013. He received the Enforcement Authority's letter dated 23 August 2013 at the same time. The appellant's appeal is dated 22 October 2013 and is made well within time.

I am arranging to send to the Enforcement Authority a copy of the charge certificate. They have not provided this in evidence.

I find that there is a procedural impropriety on the part of the Enforcement Authority. I accept that the appellant received the letter of 23 August on 17 October. This deprived him of the opportunity to pay the discounted amount. I find that the Enforcement Authority improperly issued and served a charge certificate only a day after the notice of rejection and while the appeal was pending. I allow the appeal.
28 days + 2 for service should pass between the Notice of Rejection and the Charge Certificate.

Kerb flashes were not clear so the PCN for parking where loading was not allowed was cancelled.
Someone stopped for a minute and then drove away. You are allowed at least 2 minutes to set down passengers. The PCN was cancelled.
Another old moribund PCN from 2011 was squashed, this time it was 24 September 2011.
Someone got 2 PCN in one day and the car hadn't moved. The second one was cancelled.
Someone who moved on when the traffic warden asked them too was surprised to get a PCN through the mail. It has now been cancelled.
Another drop off a passenger and drive away case led to a cancelled PCN. Barnet Council / NSL need to look at their appeals process and cancel those where this ground is argued and the observations times are very short.
Some poor sod had an accident and their car was immobile. They got 4 PCNs in 2 days. One at least has been cancelled  by PATAS, another by the council, a third is heading towards PATAS and the fate of the fourth is unknown. What a mess and after your car has possibly been written off this sort of administrative headache is all you need.
Lines had disintegrated, so too now has the PCN.
The reason why a PCN was served by post was not stated. that is enough to finish off a postal PCN.
Three signs at one locations were held to cause confusion and ambiguity. In law, ambiguity is construed against the body that causes it so the PCN was cancelled.
There were two cases where the postal PCN was not allowed as there wasn't proof that the traffic warden had been prevented from serving a PCN on the spot.
The council / NSL were criticised for the selective nature of the evidential record. the PCN was binned.
Wheel valve positions were not noted so there was no proof that the vehicle had not moved between 2 observations.
The Saracens Event Day zone was not proven, for the umpteenth time so no penalty can be obtained from the motorist.
A PATAS form was not provided with the Notice of Rejection. This is a procedural impropriety and so the PCN was cancelled.
The infamous Trinder Rd dropped kerb, down the hill from Barnet Hospital, made a late appearance. Double yellow lines have now been placed across it to stop anyone from parking there (not sure if there are kerb flashes to stop blue badge holders from doing so) but the dropped kerb was held to have no purpose, the PCN was not an exact copy of the original and the representations had not been properly considered. So that was three reasons to kill the PCN and only one is needed.
Signage was twisted away at an unreadable angle so didn't count. Another PCN over and out.
A good result in a quiet week. Keep those appeals coming. Why not ask for a personal hearing at PATAS, they are fun and you'll start to learn about the process.
Yours appealingly
Miss Feezance