Friday, 25 December 2015

London Tribunals - September 2015

The month of September at London Tribunals (formerly PATAS) was quiet with 105 Barnet cases considered. Two were the subject of recommendations by the adjudicator to the council to cancel but we don't know the outcome as the on-line register isn't telling us.

On 50 occasions the motorist won and on 53 they lost. This is a fairly typical outcome.

The notable cases are these, all of which led to the PCN being cancelled with the decision of adjudicators in blue type:

Bus Lane PCN not received.

The appellant has claimed from the outset of these proceedings that the PCN was not received.

Although the council states in its case summary that its records confirm that the PCN was posted (on 12 May 2015) it provides no proof of posting: although its Ticket History document states 'PCN produced' on 12 May that is not evidence that it was posted.

I am not satisfied having regard to the tone, content and consistency of the appellant's submissions on the point that the PCN was received and thus served and find that the presumption as to service of that document has been rebutted in this case. A failure to serve a PCN means that no power then arises to issue an Enforcement Notice.

Regulation 10 PCN - one sent by post.

The notes made by the traffic warden were not good enough to justify the reason for a postal PCN i.e. why didn't they stick it to the windscreen or put it in the hand of the person in charge of the vehicle?

Pavement parking in St Margarets Avenue (pavement parking is changing so be careful, try and be in a marked by if you can)

The appellant appeared before me today accompanied by the driver.

I found them both to be credible witnesses.

They did not deny that this vehicle had been parked otherwise than on the carriageway but stated that they were visiting a friend who lived on this road they doing so on a regular basis they usually parking off the carriageway when doing so without incident this being what all other motorists did when parking on this road given its narrow width they accepting that the vehicle had not been parked within a footway parking bay marked by signage and lines they however pointing out that the section of footway within which the vehicle had been parked was paved differently to the rest of the footway suggesting that motorists could park on it.

I was satisfied on the appellant's case she and the driver confirming that when parking as they did on this occasion on numerous previous occasions the vehicle had not been ticketed that the appellant and the driver had due I found to a lack of enforcement on this street a legitimate expectation that if this vehicle was parked as it was it would not incur a penalty charge and I found for that reason that the contravention had not been proved.

Moxon St Car Park - One Hour free

Mr X submitted that the contravention as alleged in the PCN for "parking without payment of a charge " did not occur as the location permitted one hours free parking subject to displaying a free ticket. Unfortunately the Appellant only read that free parking was permitted for an hour and did not read the fine print requiring the display of a ticket. Mr X therefore submits that the correct contravention would have been for failing to display a valid ticket.

I agree with Mr X and am not satisfied that the contravention as alleged in the PCN did occur. I therefore allow this appeal.

Regulation 10 PCN - one sent by post

In this case the driver walked away and left his vehicle parked. Therefore, the traffic warden could have served the PCN on the car but didn't, it was sent by post instead. the right to do so has not arisen as there was no prevention of service by force or by driving away.

Regulation 10 PCN - one sent by post

In this case the PCN was sent more than 28 days after the alleged contravention date. This is not permitted (if a lease car is involved the time period will be extended).

You may have resprayed your car to avoid a PCN!

The Appellant denies that it his vehicle that that is the subject matter of the contravention but believes it to be a different vehicle with the same licence plate. His vehicle was a deep shade of blue in colour. The vehicle seen in the photograph taken by the CEO and recorded in his notes is white in colour.

The Appellant had previously submitted a copy of his log book and two police receipts where the police had actually seen and checked his vehicle, as well as a copy of his MOT all of which record his vehicle as being blue.

He has received several PCNs all of which were cancelled on the same grounds and the same evidence submitted by the Appellant so the appellant was rather dismayed to see that the local authority refused to cancel this PCN as they stated that the colour of the vehicle may have been subsequently changed.

I have looked at the photographic evidence taken by the CEO which clearly shows a white vehicle. I am satisfied from the Appellants evidence that his vehicle was blue. The Appellant has since sold the vehicle because of the difficulties he was having with the other vehicle.

I note that the CEO has recorded the tax details and the local authority could clearly have simply asked the Appellant to have produced his tax disc at the time to establish whether or not it was the Appellant's vehicle if they had any doubts about the recording of the colour. However now that the vehicle has been sold the appellant can no longer produce his tax disc in place on the date of the contravention.

I am nevertheless satisfied from the Appellants evidence that it was not his vehicle that has been recorded by the CEO and the subject matter of the contravention and therefore allow this appeal.

This last case evidences an inbuilt lack of trust by the parking department (and NSL) of motorists. The notion that you would respray your car at a cost of several hundred pounds in order to avoid a PCN for £60 or £110 is risible.

Keep those Appeals coming. You can see that it is worth it a lot of the time and ocne you have missed the discount period it is a no-brainer to fight to the end.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

London Tribunals - August 15

Chancery Lane tube; the nearest to the tribunal (do not go to Angel)
This is the first report on the decisions of London Tribunals, formerly PATAS.

Since the previous month the tribunal has moved premises, changed its name and started to use new computer software. Inevitably things did not go smoothly as ideally those 3 changes would each have been implemented separately. The adjudicators are largely the same people and they are starting to find their way around the two screen computer system.

My perception is that the playing field has slightly tilted in favour of the council, this may be a function of attempts to knock cases out more quickly or it could be that Barnet Council (NSL) are starting to get their act together or it could simply be that the motorists concerned weren't very good at doing Appeals or that the fewer the Appeals the easier the system is to manage.

The end result for the month was 47 cases won by motorists and 54 by the council. Doubtless the parking manager is breathing a sign of relief that the number of cases has dropped form its peak and that he has fewer tribunal fees to pay out. Each hearing costs the council the thick end of £40, win or lose, and the motorist nothing except some time. My advice to motorists is to have a personal hearing every time (make a day out of it and go for a nice meal afterwards to either celebrate or drown your sorrows) and to avoid Saturdays when results tend to be worse.

The cases of note are these:

Ingram Road had a footway parking amnesty, the nearby Wildwood Rd did not. The case was lost.

A vehicle broke down and was scrapped. The value received was £80. The adjudicator found for the council but recommended they do not collect the £110 penalty. Why he didn't allow the appeal for circumstances beyond the control of the motorist is not known but it may be that the car was on its last legs anyway (it was worth £300) and so a lack of maintenance was the reason.

The parking meter (credit/debit card machine) refuses to let you pay early (before operational hours) for your parking (a bit inconvenient if you want to get on a train) but it only does this on the days which follow a bank holiday. This is an anomaly which must be easily fixed.

A PCN was given out 6 months after a car was scrapped by an insurance company. The old owner ended up with the paperwork to deal with and the PCN was cancelled. In a second case there had been an insurance payout. If you prove these things to the council they really shouldn't be making you go to PATAS.

A motorist presented the same witness evidence as in a case from May 2014. Adjudicators are sharp as tacks, do not lie to them.

Knowing that a disabled bay was redundant and due to be removed someone decided to start parking in it. That was an expensive decision as they lost, the bay was still legally in force. On a different day another adjudicator might somehow find for you.

The Met police said a car had been cloned. The council still contested the Appeal. The adjudicator cancelled the PCN. Anyone would think it was all about getting money from you, this PCN lark. The council are now out of pocket as they had to pay the tribunal fee.

Please make some efforts to get the number of Appeals back up. Fight every PCN you receive to the end if you have any sort of argument.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Final PATAS report - July 2015

Miss Feezance has been resting whilst the tribunal moved, changed its name and its software. The dust now seems to be settling although the register for November's decisions are missing for some unknown reason.

The tribunal's new home near Chancery Lane tube
It is not now possible to tell you how many new Appeals are registered by local authority each week or month. You will have to curb your excitement and get those statistics in the annual report of the chief adjudicator.

What I can tell you is that 82 Appeals were heard in July 15 and the council and the motorist both won 41 of them so it was honours even which is the usual state of affairs.

There were a mere four which are worth mentioning:

Two bus lane PCN were issued at 18:36 which was enough for them both to be cancelled as neither could be relied upon. It disclosed an unacceptable level of greed on the part of Barnet Council.

A Solicitor collecting a work laptop gained the benefit of the loading exemption. This would not have been the case if he had been collecting his personal laptop.

The back of the PCN was put into the evidence pack twice and the front not at all which meant that the council tripped over their shoelaces as the entire evidence is based upon a PCN having been issued of which there was no proof.

My final case of note which clearly was a narrow escape for the motorist. It is not usually a good idea to park across two types of marking or restriction as you can expose yourself to three contraventions at one and the same time.

Keep those Appeals coming. The local authority seem to be doing better and the trend seems to be downwards in numbers of Appeals which given how low they already are is a worrying trend.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

PATAS - June 15

East Finchley High Road
I have moved on to monthly reports as the number of cases going to Appeal seems to be dropping. Barnet are still causing more than their fair share (of 4%) and losing more than the average 50%

Long may their win rate be so low.

All the following were circumstances in which the motorist had their PCN cancelled.

The Saracens Event Day zone. The council got a drubbing over writing that people should check the Internet before you drive to see if it is an event day. Signs weren't proven, the existence of the zone or it even being an Event Day so these are all good grounds on which to challenge. The council nearly always lose Saracens cases if they are put to proof. There were at least 10 cases in June but that is as to nothing compared to the number of PCN issued.

A motorcycle was moved. It is hard for a motorcyclist to stop this from happening unless the bike is chained to something but it does mean that there is a valid reason why the contravention did not occur.

Unloading to the third floor would easily lead to a PCN as the warden drops out of the sky (or so it seems) on a scooter, issues a PCN and then zooms away. As long as you have some documentary proof of your loading or unloading you are at least halfway to a cancellation.

The new Orange bays for permit holders in some North Finchley Car Parks have mostly led to cancellations on the grounds of the lack of clarity of the signs. At least 4 PCN were cancelled for this reason in June.

Cones in a suspended bay. They could easily be moved and are not a recognised way to delineate the suspended area.

Two cases of car cloning which ought to be obvious to the council before the tribunal stage.

If you breakdown and then get your car repaired you do not have to use a vat registered garage. The council's insistence on a vat invoice is misplaced. If you use a one man band, that is Ok as long as you have a bona fide invoice.

The council wrote that "they do no accommodate unusual or mitigating circumstances". How unusual something is is a matter of opinion but if it is relevant to your parking the council must consider it as also they must consider mitigation.

The traffic warden condoned the parking and then sent a parking ticket through the post. they can't.

The common error of paying for the wrong location usually leads to trouble. In this case both locations were in the East Finchley High Road and so the adjudicator allowed the Appeal and cancelled the PCN.

Keep those Appeals coming. I'll keep writing monthly reports with tips and hints.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

PATAS - w/c 25 May 15 - Capita could learn ....

I must apologise for the gap in the blogging brought about mostly by the transformation of PATAS into London Tribunals which led to the register not being available for a few weeks. I will catch up asap.

Here are the stats for the week in question:

so as you can see Barnet were responsible for more than their fair share of new Appeals and contrived to lose more of them than the usual 50%.

There were four cases of note, which all led to the PCN being cancelled:

-  A dropped kerb was not proven

-  The Saracens Event Day Zone was not proven (the council struggle with this)

-  3 spaces in a bay were suspended. The bay had space for 4 cars; the 3 which were suspended was not made clear.

- My favourite, this one, in the words of the adjudicator;

The Appellant's vehicle was parked in a restricted street displaying a badge that had expired and a fairly detailed note explaining that the badge was in the process of being renewed.

Despite that note I would not criticise the CEO for issuing the PCN ( as motorists cannot write themselves exemptions from parking restrictions). However it transpires that the reason there was no valid badge on display is that the Council's agents Capita, had failed to issue him with one at the proper time.

Having heard the Appellant in person in detail there is no doubt at all that the sorry history of his attempt to renew the badge in very good time is correct; and that his request to Capita for the required renewal forms was, as he was informed by Capita when chasing the matter, "lost in the system". When the forms were eventually received on a Saturday morning, he completed them and put them in the post that same morning.

It appears that Capita could learn something from the Appellant's efficiency. 

The Council states that the Appellant should have applied for a temporary dispensation. He was never informed of this by the Council when he made his initial renewal enquiry or at any subsequent stage by the Council's agents Capita. All he was told to do was to display a note, which he did. In my judgement in these circumstances the law follows common sense and does not allow a Council to enforce a penalty for a contravention which occurred entirely as a result of its own failings (Capita being the agent of the Council for these purposes). Allowing it to do so would be the equivalent of an abuse of process and in these circumstances no contravention can be said to have occurred (see the dicta in Camden v The Parking Adjudicator and BHS t/a First for Food Service Ltd [2011] EWHC 295 Admin [2011]EWCA Civ 905) 

The Appeal is therefore allowed.

The Appellant has shown to me today a charge certificate issued in respect of a very similar case, and where he never received a Notice to Owner. He has of course the right to follow the statutory procedures to set this aside. I am not seized of that matter today. However, if it is the case that the situation in that case is indeed identical, the Council might be well advised to cancel that PCN without further ado, since if the matter ever came to appeal it might well find itself at risk of an order for costs on the Appeal being allowed.

Keep those Appeals coming.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Saturday, 27 June 2015

PATAS - w/c 18 May 15 - Gervase Rd again

Gervase Road & one of its notorious pavement parking bays
Here are the statistics for this short week due to the end of May bank holiday.

There were 4 PCN cancelled which are worth a mention.

The pavement parking bays are badly laid out in Gervase Rd. Scooter based traffic wardens know that and often pop there as they are certain to be able to issue to some poor soul who has parked in the "wrong" place. Your defence is to attack lines and signs as being inadequate and then the council have to prove them and the staff who make up the Evidence Packs will struggle to do so.

The loading bay in High Rd N12 (outside HSBC) was not well enough signed as the sign for it was hidden behind a tree whilst the one for the paybyphone bay was much more visible.

It was uncertain that a car was over 50cm from the edge of the carriageway. Make sure that at least one piece of your car is within that reasonable tolerance.

The notes of the traffic warden were unsatisfactory. You don't normally see them until the Evidence Pack stage (i.e. you have made an Appeal to PATAS) but they are worth taking a look at. If you can't make sense of the abbreviations tell the Adjudicator that at the personal hearing (you should always request a personal hearing and treat the day as a day out in London, have your hearing and then lunch or a visit to the Tate Modern or something like that so that win or lose you have a nice day out).

So in this particular week the number of Appeals stayed high (the parking manager must wonder when they are going to settle down and that will be when PCN are no longer used to fill budget shortfalls) and the success rate was higher than the usual 50%. Well done everyone.

Keep those Appeals coming.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

PATAS - w/c 11 May 15 - Error upon error

Here are the statistics for the week showing a surge in Appeals being filed but a large drop in the success rate for those Appeals lodged a month prior.

That week was the worst for the motorist (Barnet cases only) in the whole of 2015 but having sneaked a look at the following week I can report that the motorist got back on top.

Here are the, often classic, reasons why the motorist lost in this week.

-  Paid for the car and then moved it to a different type of bay.
-  Paid by phone for the wrong car.
-  Parked more than 50cm from the edge of the carriageway.
-  Needed the toilet urgently (the council can be kind to you but the adjudicator has to apply the law. Needing the toilet is not usually a medical emergency).
-  Not loading continuously (whilst repairing a boiler).
-  Paid on-line for a different PCN (keep separate files one each one you get).
-  Blue badge not on display.
-  Parked beyond paid for time (10 minutes grace now given).
-  Blue badge clock not properly set.
-  Broke down and car on footway (leave it in the road).
-  On a single yellow line without realising you are in a CPZ.

So there we have it, a week in which the council won more than they lost but I won't be typing that very often and the council have extra workload to deal with which will probably mean more Appeals not being contested in mid-June which makes this a good time to complete your PATAS form.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Sunday, 31 May 2015

PATAS - w/c 4 May 15 - armageddon

Here are the stats for the week which was a day short due to a Bank Holiday.

Only two that I need to tell you about.

In the first one a PCN was cancelled because the PayByPhone system was down and there isn't a viable alternative in most places, meters now being as rare as hen's teeth. I heard this week that the owners of PayByPhone are putting it up for sale as it is not mainstream to their business and even taking 10% of the payment, as they roughly do in Barnet, it loses money. All I can say to that is they haven't put their technology together very economically if they can't process payments for a single digit percentage. 

The danger of relying on just one form of technology is that the day that armageddon hits the phone network, there will be almost no income for the council.

The second PCN was cancelled as a blue badge holder had one without an expiry date on it and there was, apparently, no reminder system to forewarn you that you need to renew.

Keep those Appeals coming.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Friday, 29 May 2015

PATAS - w/c 27 April - proof

my sort of proof
Here are the stats for the week:

Quite a quiet week for Appeals though, perhaps caused by Easter which was 4 weeks prior so less paperwork got completed.

Only two cases worth mentioning and the motorist lost them both.

In the first case, proof of the cost of puncture repair was not provided.

In the second case a butcher doing deliveries from his car did not provide any proof of what he was delivering and where.

Adjudicators get lied to all the time so if you have independently produced paperwork to show them that helps your case.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Thursday, 28 May 2015

PATAS - w/c 20 April - seeing orange, or not.

Here are the stats for the week:

Barnet London % Status
New Appeals 21 628 3 Below average

Won Out of %
Cases heard 18 30 60 Above average

So numbers of new Appeals were down by a quarter but the success rate for motorists was the correct side of 50%.

There were 4 cases to tell you about:

-   A 1 minute observation period was found to be inadequate. This is often the case where the driver has to fetch a permit or driver from a nearby property & the person who is providing the same is slow, disabled, elderly etc. There is no absolute right to an observation period, it all depends upon the circumstances of the case. There is now, of course, an Eric Pickles inspired 10 minute grace period after paid for time.

-   A cloned vehicle should not lead to a PCN being pursued all the way to PATAS as often seems to be the case in Barnet. All the council are doing by delaying is hacking off the motorist and losing £40 in PATAS fees.

-   There are bays marked with orange lines in the Woodhouse Car Park (& others). Beware of them as they are a natural trap. One expects bays in car parks to be for people to pay to park in; the orange ones are for permit holders. In the rain one could easily miss the subtle distinction.

-   A driver who was trying to pay by phone reported that the traffic warden was unhelpful. Who would believe it? oh, the PATAS adjudicator. the PCN was cancelled as were the other 3 mentioned above.

Keep those Appeals coming.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

PATAS - w/c 13 April : dropper kerb / clanger

Here are the stats for this particular week.

Barnet London % Status
New Appeals 30 1063 3 Below average

Won Out of %
Cases heard 16 24 67 A little low

There were 10 or so fewer appeals to PATAS in this week for some unknown reason.

Even worse, the council somehow managed to win more of them than did the motorist. Looking at the reasons for failure it looks like a simple case of a number of poor and/or poorly argued cases arrived together. I don't think this will be a regular occurrence or is a sign that the council has really got its act together.

Just one notable case. A PCN given out for being across a dropped kerb where the householder had not asked for enforcement action to be taken led to a cancelled PCN. This is to allow home owners (with their own personal dropped kerb, not for a shared drive and not inside a CPZ during zone hours) to make maximum use of the road space. If you get a dropped kerb PCN outside a residence it is always worth asking for proof that the householder made a call to parking enforcement. near cycle lanes and at junctions and other places where pedestrians, you must keep clear of dropped kerbs (and of roads raised to the level of the pavement).

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Sunday, 26 April 2015

PATAS - w/c 6 April 15 - Admin error

Barnet London % Status
New Appeals 30 763 4 Normal

Won Out of %
Cases heard 16 24 67 High

So there you have the stats for the week. Quite a quiet week for new appeals (post Easter) but a good one for motorists who beat the council 2 times out of 3.

The main case of interest was the following one. The council penalise you if you make a simple error but try to explain their own errors away as perfectly acceptable. Adjudicators won't stand for such unfairness.

The Appellant's initial representation centred upon the vague description of the said vehicle's parked position in the Penalty Charge Notice. In response the Enforcement Authority stated its allegation, in its letter of 5th November 2014, to be that the said vehicle was positioned "outside of number 10 Penshurst Gardens."

This information was crucial to the Appellant's further conduct of the matter; it influenced his decision to challenge the Penalty Charge Notice, since he maintained the contrary, that the said vehicle was not so positioned.

For the Enforcement Authority to subsequently suggest that such statement was erroneous and an "administrative error" is not acceptable; these are legal proceedings and the accuracy of information is paramount.

Further, the main issue raised by the Appellant, of which the address was a salient point, was the lack of specific identification of the said vehicle's alleged location on the Penalty Charge Notice in view of the fact that the road in question was lengthy.
That point raised by the Appellant deserved proper consideration, I therefore carefully examined the wording of both the Notice of Rejection itself, and the Case Summary to assist in my determination as to whether or not the Enforcement Authority had accorded requisite consideration as it is obliged so to do.

In addition to the so-called administrative error, I observe there to be a overt failure to adequately identify/rebut or retort to the Appellant's main issue.

I concluded that the Enforcement Authority had not discharged its duty under Regulation 5(2)(b) of the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations & Appeals Regulations 2007 which I find to be a 'procedural impropriety' on the part of the Enforcement Authority.

In this context, 'procedural impropriety' means a failure by the Enforcement Authority to observe any requirement imposed on it by the Traffic Management act 2004 or Regulation 4(5)(a) of the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations & Appeals Regulations 2007.

Regulation 7(2) of the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations & Appeals Regulations 2007 provides that if I conclude that a Ground specified in Regulation 4(4) applies I shall Allow the Appeal.

This Appeal is allowed.

Keep those Appeals rolling in, especially for vagueness of location when the road is a long one.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Thursday, 16 April 2015

PATAS - w/c 30 March - pre Easter

PATAS adjudicators also need a break from parking tickets so do not sit over the Easter holidays. Thus the numbers were down a little:

Barnet London % Status
New Appeals 21 751 3 Below normal

Won Out of %
Cases heard 14 25 56 Slightly high

There were four cases of note:

1   A man made a minor keying error with his registration and as he hadn't done so before the adjudicator decided to recommend to Barnet for this first offence, that is bound to happen at times, that they cancel the PCN. The adjudicator can only suggest, they cannot order where the rules have been broken. Barnet decided to agree.

2   There were two cases of PCN sent through the post where the adjudicator wasn't convinced that the traffic warden had begun to prepare a PCN so they were cancelled.

3   The old question of time to collect a visitor voucher came up again. Reasonable time must be allowed. the PCN was cancelled.

4   The council still seem to struggle when it comes to the Event Day zone. Another PCN bit the dust.

Keep making those Appeals to PATAS.

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance

Sunday, 29 March 2015

PATAS - w/c 23 March 15 - a mug

Another week at PATAS saw the following new cases and Appeal hearings

Barnet London % Status
New Appeals 37 909 4 Normal

Won Out of %
Cases heard 19 33 58 Slightly high

There were four cases to tell you about:

1   A bus lane PCN cannot be transferred to the vehicle hirer by the bus company unless the agreement is for 6 months or more, thus effectively making them the keeper. That is a rather unfair piece of legislation that should be changed.

2   A motorist in need of an annual permit was not told (by the Capita call centre at coventry who handle calls for the council) about the dispensation system.

3   An adjudicator was concerned about the astounding submission by the council that a motorist should consult the internet for match days before they leave home. That is what parking signs are meant to inform us of.

Those three cases all had their PCN cancelled. 

This one didn't:

4   The traffic warden noted that the motorist came out of a cafe, mug in hand and was abusive. He didn't say he was delivering glass as the vehicle owner claimed. To note from this is the fact that traffic wardens make notes, that you should read the Evidence Pack clearly before the case and put in further evidence of your own after receiving the evidence and that you should be careful what you say (and not be abusive).

Keep on filing those Appeals.

Your appealingly

Miss Feezance