Thursday, 27 March 2014

PATAS w/c 17 Mar 14 - The low down

The council's appetite for PCN income is constant
Last week at PATAS there were 87 hearings. There were 11 instances of witness statements TE9 which I will ignore. There were 3 cases where the adjudicator couldn't find a legal reason but asked the council to cancel the PCN all the same. That left 73 standard cases of which 47 were won, that is 64% 

Time spent completing a PATAS form is never wasted.

Cases of note, in which the PCN was cancelled unless I tell you otherwise, were:

- one where the photos were too dark to make anything out (you should also deny that the contravention took place as then the only other evidence is the traffic warden's scant notes)
- a time plate that is mounted too low and is filthy in Highwood Hill
- a dropped kerb that was much wider than the entrance (presumably because the part of the drop that leads to a hedge, fence or wall can't be said to be dropped for the purpose of entering a drive)
- 5 cases where the vehicle had been taking without consent
- 2 stolen vehicle PCNs where a crime number was held (why oh why do these ever get to PATAS?)
- a sign too low in Hermitage Lane (realistically it should be visible above the bonnet of a car but it will be a question of judgment by the adjudicator as to whether low is too low or not)
- in their response to representations the council wrote about the wrong hour of restriction so were held to have not properly considered the representations which is a procedural impropriety
- we don't see many now, as they must largely have gone through the system, but there as a PCN from the distant days of 21 July 12. There was a process delay of 6 months 3 days which is just enough to breach your Human Right to a fair trial, when taken with the alleged bus lane contravention being 2 years ago.
- no photo, no tax disc number
- the adjudicator found it unacceptable that any photographs taken more than 5 minutes after the PCN could not be uploaded to the system. this is effect the suppression of evidence to the adjudicator.
- an unclear suspension (they often are)
- PCN not handed to driver as alleged.
- a medical emergency caused an urgent need to use the toilet (you will need proof of your medical condition)
- A traffic warden said it was OK to park there (this sort of claim is hard to prove)
- Saracens zone not proven

Excellent work everyone. Keep those appeals flowing.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

PATAS - week of 10 March - Frosty

Last week at PATAS was more like they use to be. There were still nine applications to the TEC to take the process back to the beginning, mostly wrongly so they didn't do any good.

There were 4 cases in which PATAS recommended that the council cancel the parking ticket even though legally issued and then there were 70 run of the mill cases of which 43 (that is 61% of them) led to the PCN being cancelled.

It is still well worth putting your appeal in if you have missed the discount period.

Cases where the PCN was cancelled included:

- The Saracens zone. Every PCN in this zone should be taken to PATAS.
- 2 bus lane PCN in one minute. Technically each of the bus lanes are separate but 2 PCN in one minute for what looks like one long bus lane on the A5 will not be allowed; the first one will be upheld though.
- Delivering bread.
- Obtaining a visitor voucher.
- One car over-heated and another with a blown fuse (These must not be regular faults or due to poor maintenance otherwise they are foreseeable events. Always good to have a proper invoice for the repair as well).
- In Dollis Road the pavement parking areas are unclear.
- The sign was not where the traffic warden said it was.

The final case I want to you about was one that was lost i.e. the PCN has to be paid. In this case the car had a frost screen on it. This is what the adjudicator said:

The contemporaneous photographic evidence leads me to conclude that a valid permit was not visible because of the frost shield.

The administrative practicalities of the parking scheme require a vehicle's owner, at all times it waits in a bay or space, to pay for that time and display proof of that by way of a ticket or voucher or meter reading. The Scheme imposes owner liability. That implies that the owner may be liable even if he did not know about the contravention, which in turn implies liability without fault. An Adjudicator must balance any decision between fairness and administrative practicality. Sometimes the latter overrides the former. A Scheme requires that parked vehicles pay for their waiting time and that the payment is visibly displayed. Should either requirement be absent then a contravention occurs. I find that this principle also applies to permits and badges.

The issue is whether the officer was under a duty to remove the frost shield to ascertain whether or not a valid permit was on display. I believe not.

I find that in the circumstances the officer was entitled to issue the penalty notice because no permit was visible in the circumstances, with which he was confronted.

The question of unreasonableness is not for an Adjudicator. This is more the province of a High Court Judge.

An Adjudicator must look at the evidence to ascertain if there has been a contravention and if there is an exemption to it.

In this instance I find that the circumstance are mitigating circumstances or extenuating factors. They do not amount to a ground of appeal.

The local authority has clearly considered the relevant circumstances but has chosen not to exercise their discretion in the appellant's favour. Mitigation is the province of the local authority. In the Court of Appeal case of R (Walmsley) v. Lane, the judges stated that an Adjudicator may only cancel a penalty charge notice if a ground of appeal has been established and that an Adjudicator may not exercise their discretion and cancel a penalty notice when mitigating circumstances and not a ground of appeal has been established. Mitigation is for the local authority. An Adjudicator is not permitted to mitigate a fixed penalty, a penalty fixed by law.

I have to find that the penalty notice was properly issued.

In those circumstances, as I find that no ground of appeal has been established, I have to refuse the appeal.

This at first looks like a surprising result but it was one that the adjudicator was bound to come to as he has to apply the law. If he had evidence that a permit did exist for the vehicle he could have recommended that the council cancel the PCN but as they had already exercised their discretion against cancelling he probably couldn't see any compelling reason and nor can I. The conditions of your permit includes:

The permit must be displayed on the front windscreen of the vehicle so that the details are clearly visible from outside the vehicle.

so if you then cover it you are contravening the conditions. If snow falls or the windscreen frosts over, then you have not failed to comply with the conditions, it is an outside force that has acted and commonsense should prevail in those cases.

Another question is whether a traffic warden should have removed the cover (or if they should scrape snow or ice away). They do have the legal right to uncover a number plate but are not empowered to do anything else and would be at risk of a claim for damages if they did so.

What should you do? I think I would cut a hole in the cover where the permit sits even though it will then be frosted over and still not clear.

Of course the council should, if a valid permit existed for the vehicle, have cancelled the PCN but that would be to fail to satisfy their voracious appetite for revenue raised from parking tickets instead of through council tax.

Keep on appealing.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Monday, 10 March 2014

PATAS - week of 3 March 14

The incidence of resource to the TEC using the form TE9 was much reduced in this week with only 11 cases. That left 26 which the council won and 51 which the motorist won and of those 51 the council didn't bother to contest 18 of them, hence the picture of the towel above; it should really be a thrown one though. So of the true PCN, a 66% success rate. Keep those appeals coming.

Case of note which the motorist won include:

One where payment was made 1 minute after the PCN was issued as it must take at least a minute to do and show up.

One where the entire car was not more than 50cm from the kerb.

One where the notes of the CEO supported the defence that boarding was taking place. Why did that case get as far as PATAS?

One in Prince of Wales Close where the sign is turned away from the road. If you can't see it, it isn't valid.

One where the loading flashes (those marks across the kerb)  were not clear.

In Varley Parade - the poor surface markings are not good enough for a PCN to stand.

If you have a PCN in similar circumstances, appeal it.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Monday, 3 March 2014

PATAS - w/c 24 Feb 14 - stick to the rules

Stick to the rules please
In this week there were another 23 uses of the TE9 witness statement procedure at the TEC attached to Northampton County Court which simply delayed the inevitable and led to motorists still having to pay the PCN because they hadn't properly followed the procedure. If you don't qualify for a TE9 don't sign one. The best thing to do is to follow the procedure and timetable for challenging a PCN in the first place.

Once those 23 cases were stripped out we are left with 45 PCN which were cancelled and 45 PCN which were upheld and 3 where the council were asked to take another look at cancelling.

Of the cases which were won the council didn't bother contesting 18 (i.e. 40%) of them. They probably can't keep up with the number of Appeals so keep them coming and keep the pressure on.

The council lost one case because it was poorly presented. NSL are contracted to produce the Evidence Packs.

The signs about the Market day in Lodge Lane Car Park were found to be inadequate, as they have been in the past. The motorist in question took advice on the Pepipoo website. It might sound silly but the advice is sound.

The Saracens Zone took another drubbing. The council may say they put up posters but they didn't say where and didn't produce any and they may talk of adverts in the local paper but they didn't produce any copies. Their evidence was mere conjecture.

A person who thought they had paid the 50% in time by credit card over the phone to a customer services person found payment had not been taken and then the council wanted 100%. The adjudicator did not find this to be fair as the non-payment was not the fault of the motorist.

Unloading scaffolding isn't a quick job. There is little doubt that unloading was taking place and accordingly the adjudicator cancelled the PCN.

A suspended bay caused the usual confusion and the evidence was poor so the PCN was cancelled.

The council (NSL) produced the wrong PCN as evidence so the correct one was cancelled.

Quite a busy week but not really remarkable. Keep those Appeals coming and make the council work for their money.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance