25 March 2013

Parking ticket zealots - duty to be fair.

The following are the notes made by the independent adjudicator at PATAS and they nicely sum up the approach of Barnet Council and their enforcer, NSL Ltd.

The contravention is "parked without payment of the parking charge" and not as stated in the case summary parking "not purchased soon enough...". From the evidence it is clear that the appellant paid for parking and this is not disputed by the Authority.

The nature of this matter causes me to expand more than usual in my findings. It is also pertinent to note that the account provided by the appellant has at all times been consistent, and though there are some issues with the exact timing of the telephone calls the central core of the appellant's account has never been disputed.

The Authority relying on its Pay By Phone records submit that the appellant's first telephone call to pay by phone was made at 1.53pm and that the PCN was issued one minute earlier at 1.52pm; even if these times are reliable and correct with such a difference of one minute I find it surprising that the Authority would pursue this matter further. The Authority continues by stating that at 1.53pm the call was terminated because the appellant had given incorrect card expiry details, but the Authority accepts that the appellant rang back within two minutes and that ultimately at 1.58pm payment was successful. The Authority state that because the PCN was issued at 1.58pm this was six minutes after the PCN had been issued at 1.52pm and have continued to enforce this matter.

The appellant's account is that she first made the call at 1.50pm and that ultimately payment was made at 1.57pm. What the Authority in its zeal to pursue this case appear to have neglected is a duty to act fairly and proportionately. There has been no attempt by the appellant to evade payment. A motorist who has not used this system before has to register a number of details including debit card information and full description details of the vehicle in question. The service requires waiting for an operator whilst part of the service is also automated. This appellant was making the call from the information board and not from her vehicle. Even if the records relied on by the Authority from Pay By Phone are reliable there is still only a gap of six minutes between the issue of the PCN and the appellant first trying to make contact with Pay By Phone, and if the appellant's records are more reliable the gap is just five minutes.

This matter should be pursued no further. The appellant has acted honestly and genuinely throughout. I cannot perceive how an Authority can claim to act with fairness when it accepts that the motorist has paid for the parking, but submits that a gap of either 5 or 6 minutes due to attempts to engage with Pay By Phone is indicative of the motorist in these particular circumstances not acting quickly enough.

I am not satisfied that the PCN was correctly issued.
If you are in a similar situation you can quote PATAS file number 2130045792 in support of your argument.
Yours frugally
Mr Mustard 

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