19 July 2016

Not the real Registered Keeper

Imagine this. You do not own a car, you are usually driving your aged mother  in her car to bingo and hospital appointments etc. so don't need one and you don't really have the spare cash. Your mother hasn't been well and so you stay over at her place for a few weeks to look after her. You pop back home to pick up your post and it has the above documents within it, with the sum of c. £2,000 outstanding. (There have been more PCN since this sorry saga started). 

It turns out that someone, thinking they will be clever, has registered your name and address on a car purchase, not the sort of mistake you could easily make. The guilty party then parks their car adjacent to Bounds Green tube station most days and gets a PCN for not paying and probably laughs at how they have beaten the system.

The innocent party gets a copy of the V5 that was sent in with the new owner's details. The handwriting is not his nor is the signature (and Mr Mustard compared it to the innocent party's passport) and therefore the insertion of the innocent party's name and address is reported to the police as a fraud.

The innocent party is worried about the police stopping him (they wouldn't have) and his mother's car being seized (it can't be). PCN are a civil matter, not a criminal one.

Mr Mustard ponders the best solution. He has a eureka moment. He emails Haringey Parking.

A number of these PCN seem to be at the Charge Certificate stage and doubtless your policy is to uplift the vehicle as soon as there are 3 outstanding PCN at that stage. Please can you do this in order to stop the unending stream of PCN. It looks like the vehicle is usually parked without payment in the mornings near Bounds Green tube station.

Your assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated

If it was your car you wouldn't invite the council to impound it. If and when they do so, they will not release it until every outstanding PCN is paid which is well on the way to the value of the car. The guilty party wasn't as smart as they thought they were. The system usually wins.

A week later this message lands in Mr Mustard's inbox:

Thank you for your email.

I have investigated your concerns and I can confirm our records have been updated. Mr Innocent will no longer be contacted about this vehicle.

Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused.

I hope that this is helpful and please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further assistance.

Well done Haringey Council. Somehow you were able to stand up Mr Mustard's story, you have moved reasonably swiftly, you have apologised when you have done nothing wrong and you have indeed been helpful.

Mr Mustard hopes this sort of nasty trick is never played on you.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

Mr Mustard quite enjoyed this novel problem although Mr Innocent was quite agitated about the whole thing. 

10 July 2016

No entry - no penalty (perhaps) in London (only)

Mr Mustard does not approve of people driving through no entry signs but sometimes they can't be seen very well as in the above location, Temple Mill Lane, in Newham, where their unmarked camera car is partially blocking the view. It is for use in such situations that Mr Mustard is going to tell you of a recently developed loophole against PCN for failing to comply with a no entry sign.

In the 2002 edition of the Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions (TSRGD) the No Entry sign (sign no. 616) was listed as a scheduled section 36 traffic sign.

On 22 April 2016 the 2016 edition of the TSRGD came into force. In that £65 tome of 547 pages section 36 signs were identified in Schedule 3, part 2 by a number '1' in column 6 which meant that the Provision in Part 4 applies:

'Section 36 of the 1988 Act applies to the circular sign'.

The team that drafted the new TSRGD forgot to put a '1' in column 6 which means that until someone at the Department for Transport corrects this omission, the No Entry sign isn't a section 36 sign.

A PCN issued in London (it is a police matter outside of London) must be issued on the following basis:

The wording that many councils used for contravention code 51 was, in list 6.7.3 from 2 April 2015, this one:

This does not talk about failing to comply with a prescribed order as above but instead talks about failing to comply with a sign and to meet with the legislation that has to be a section 36 traffic sign & it no longer is one since 22 April.

The basis therefore of your challenge is that the PCN does not set out the alleged contravention in line with the requirements of the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003 and so the alleged contravention did not occur (or is a nullity).

The escape route is being plugged by London Councils, who create the contravention code wordings on behalf of all councils (and these wordings are not law but only standard practice and might still be found not be adequate if challenged at adjudication) who have changed the wording to this one in list 6.7.4 effective from 10 June 2016.

This is the wording which London Councils sent with the updated PCN listing.

Good morning

The new updated TSRGD 2016 has thrown up an issue regarding contravention code

51 ‘Failing to comply with a no entry sign’.

The latest version includes an error where the specific no entry sign (number 616) has been excluded as a section 36 sign under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

This in effect means that the contravention description in failing to comply with the sign is incorrect, as the failure to include this sign in section 36 means enforcement is only applicable for contravention of a traffic order.

For details please see Part 2 paragraph 4(5) of the LLA and TfL Act 2003 attached.


In light of this I have amended the description in the revised contravention code list above (version 6.7.4) to the following.

51 'Failing to comply with a no entry restriction'

Please ensure that you amend you description to this contravention code otherwise you will potentially have enforcement issues. This error is in the public domain.

DfT have stated that they will be rectifying the issue in due course, but this may take a couple of months. As soon as we have been made aware of the amendment then we can review the code again (if required) accordingly.

Please not that this revision is not applicable for authorities outside of London but has been forwarded for information.

I hope this makes sense

Many thanks

Mr Mustard hopes this helps you.

For any experts who are reading please go to the key cases section of the London Tribunals website and look at the Loomis case which went over similar ground some years ago. Mr Cooper is still adjudicating today.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

6 July 2016

Lyonsdown School zig zags - be a courteous driver & get a PCN in the post!

Mr Mustard's client needed to drive along Richmond Rd, EN5. She was not collecting or dropping off children on the zig-zags. She came around the corner and could not proceed through the centre of the road because of oncoming traffic. She was there at least 10 seconds (the cctv finishes before she moves off - what a surprise) and where else can you stop your car except on the left hand side of the road where the keep clear (zig-zag) markings are?

Enforcement at this location is by automated camera. The selected cctv footage is then supposedly reviewed by a staff member to check it before a PCN is issued. Something tells Mr Mustard that the council (or NSL) aren't checking to see if you were stopped from proceeding by oncoming traffic. Mr Mustard will request a procedural change with the parking manager to try and prevent stupid PCN being issued i.e. a longer clip of footage needs to be reviewed. In the clip Mr Mustard has seen the driver's hand is still on the wheel and no-one gets in or out of the car. A challenge to that effect has been rejected by the council. Mr Mustard will see them at the tribunal.

Mr Mustard will in the meantime drive down this road during the operative hours, with his crash cam running, to test the system.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard 

Update: 7 July 2016

The parking manager responded very quickly to Mr Mustard's missive.

Please see below (the innocent trap problem was explained by Mr Mustard) – it does look like this is a problem which could be easily fixed if the yellow lines were extended further up the road.

Do you know whether this issue has been raised previously as from the current layout of this section of road I suspect it happens on a regular basis.

Could you review and respond to Mr. Mustard please.

Another parking employee then said this

I have spoken to colleagues within this section and it was agreed that there are circumstances due to the road layout, that may cause this type of stopping to be a course of action for a driver. I have since requested that the CCTV footage be extended ( should be completed today) and have requested that Highways look at the current layout of the yellow lines to see if they could undertake to extend the DYL (on the opposite kerb) and install a SYL from the SKC* going east.

I have also requested that on this occasion that we close the case due to mitigation although this will not set a precedent for this area as each case will reviewed on a case by case basis.

Mr Mustard is pleased to see such a speedy and positive response. Credit where it is due.

*SKC = School Keep Clear markings. 

26 June 2016

Will or May

The will/may argument had been a useful safety net for Mr Mustard but no longer
About a year ago Mr Mustard picked a useful argument up from somewhere, probably an appeal decision that he had read, to the effect that Barnet Council were wrong to use the word 'will' in their Notice of Rejection of Representations, rather than the word 'may', as allowed for in the legislation. On such little differences the outcome of a PCN can depend, as the meaning of the words differ greatly.

For all that time Barnet Council have insisted that the word 'will' was substantially compliant and some adjudicators did agree with them but more didn't and Mr Mustard could lose on the parking grounds but then win on the technicality.

This is what the Notice of Rejection used to look like:

and this is a typical decision made by an independent adjudicator, whose job is, of course, to apply the law, in case 2160097842:

So if you already have a Notice of Rejection in your possession and you may even have already lodged an Appeal at London Tribunals (they used to be called PATAS) and if your Notice of Rejection also contains the offending word 'will', then you may as well add the extra point of appeal to your case as it may save you from having to pay out funds.

After resisting for a year Barnet Council bowed to the inevitable and changed the word (they will say the old word was not wrong and they have only changed as a precautionary measure. Mr Mustard will find other arguments of general assistance & tends not to rely only on his safety net in any event). The Notice of Rejection, since early June?, now looks like this:

You can't, sadly, go back over previous PCN and demand a refund as once paid, they cannot be reopened.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

23 June 2016

How compliant is fully compliant?

Mr Mustard loves some of the nonsense which gets written in letters rejecting perfectly valid claims. Here is an example:

There are two possible problems with this sentence.

The first is that in the year 2016 Mr Mustard has completed his work on 82 Barnet Council PCN and has lost twice at the tribunal having been there 44 times. The other 38 PCN were cancelled by Barnet Council based upon what Mr Mustard himself said in his challenges so 38/82 = 46% of the time the council agree with him, 42/82 = 51% of the time an independent adjudicator, a lawyer, agrees with him and 2% of the time Mr Mustard is wrong (he is much more wrong when he is in Ealing, about 95% of the time but that is about a moving traffic violation case where the battle has been lost but the war continues) so maybe, just maybe, he was correct in this case. (1% is lost in rounding).

The second reason is that the argument employed is one that has been found in Mr Mustard's favour three times already at the tribunal and although tribunal decisions are not binding, they are persuasive, so the same outcome is likely.

The case will be at the tribunal by the end of July. We'll see how the alleged careful consideration of the representations pans out.

Councils really should not write rejection letters which are not even-handed as they have a general duty at law to be fair.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

22 June 2016

Traffic wardens lurking about at night in the borough of Barnet.

Last night Barnet moved from enforcing only during the hours of 7am to 11pm to sending traffic wardens out all night. The motivation is supposedly to 'ensure roads remain safe at night'. Mr Mustard doesn't suppose that there is more than 1% of the traffic at 5am that there is at 5pm and it is probably quite hard to find two moving cars to crash into each other.

On the other hand there will be people who have parked on the following, which are the target zones for traffic wardens, not that they have targets, well not official ones anyway:

Double yellow lines 
Dropped kerbs i.e. driveways (except your own but even then not if there is an operative Single yellow or double yellows) 
Disabled bays
Bus stops
Taxi ranks 
On the footpath or verge or anywhere that isn't the road itself
White zig zags

Now no motorist should be on any of those at 5am if there is a restriction at that time but if there isn't actually a traffic management problem being caused then it looks like nothing more than a further squeeze on the motorist in order to take pressure off the council budget.

You can ruin the council's dastardly plan by always parking 100% legally. The council will, in theory, be delighted about that as 100% compliance is the laughable offical aim of parking enforcement.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard