21 February 2014

Maybe PATAS will fix the broken NSL parking enforcement contract

being hit in the pocket changes behaviour
Mr Mustard has just read all of yesterday's PATAS appeals for Barnet. Here is one of the decisions:

Mr. Young, the director of the Appellant company, appeared before me this morning in person. He had previously attended on 6 January 2014 when I made the following direction to the Council:

" The Council are to respond to the Appellant's submissions in his Notice of Appeal in writing and in particular address how and when they decided to start enforcing the contravention again and how they communicated this to the Appellant and other residents. Further, they are to attend the adjourned hearing."

The Council has not responded and has not attended this hearing as directed. Mr Young has submitted three sets of further correspondence and submissions - including as to the issue of costs - since the hearing in January and has clearly spent considerable time and effort in making his detailed arguments. I am unimpressed with the Council's failure to respond or to attend today as directed.

Given the abject failure by the Council, I assume that they no longer seek to contest this appeal and it is allowed.

In respect of Mr C's application costs, I note that, again, the Council has failed to respond.

Paragraph 13(1) in Part 2 of the Schedule to the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2007 provides that the Adjudicator shall not normally make an order awarding costs and expenses, but may make such an order-

(a) against a party (including an appellant who has withdrawn his appeal or an enforcement authority which has consented to an appeal being allowed) if he is of the opinion that that party has acted frivolously or vexatiously or that his conduct in making, pursuing or resisting an appeal was wholly unreasonable; or

(b) against an enforcement authority where he considers that the disputed decision was wholly unreasonable.

I consider the conduct of the Enforcement Authority to have been wholly unreasonable and therefore, I do exercise my power to award costs in this appeal.

The Regulation cited above does not contain any provisions as to the rate to be awarded when an order for costs is made. There is no provision for loss of earnings. However, Adjudicators take as their guidance the Civil Procedure Rules as applied to Small Claims in the County Court. These allow for an award of £18 per hour for a litigant in person (i.e. one not represented by a lawyer) in respect of preparation for and attendance at any hearing, together with reasonable expenses actually incurred.

Mr. Young has limited his claim to £11.06 per hour and I therefore apply that rate to Mr. Young's claim. The Regulation limits any award to "the costs and expenses incurred by that other party in connection with the proceedings".

I consider the hours claimed by Mr. Young in his "Table of Expenses" served with his correspondence of 3 February 2013 (2014?) to be reasonable.

Accordingly I make the following award:

Travel costs: £12.80
Postage etc costs: £24.47
Travel and Preparation Time: 18 hours @ £11.06 = £199.08

Total: £236.35

I therefore direct the Local Authority to pay Mr. Young the above sum of £236.35 forthwith.

It is very hard to get PATAS to make an award for costs. Mr Mustard has only ever made two applications, because he only does so on obviously egregious cases, of which one was granted. For context, in the year to March 13 there were 6 costs applications against Barnet Council of which only 2 were granted in the total sum of £170.89

Last week the sum of £63 was granted to a motorist who won her Saracens zone appeal and so last year's total payout has been passed as we are now on £299.35 (there may be other cases which Mr Mustard has missed and which will be in the annual report from PATAS in due course)

Mr Mustard can't be sure that it was only NSL at fault, and that the client side parking department were not involved but his experience of the department is that they are always polite and he thinks they would have responded in some way to PATAS if the papers had been brought to their attention in time. Mr Mustard is inclined to lay most of the blame at the door of NSL as it is they who receive the PATAS documentation in the first place.

If motorists fail to respond to documents about a PCN they end up with the bailiff. The council, probably acting (or not in this case) by their contractor NSL have made repeated failures and hence the costs order partly to teach them a lesson. The motorist hasn't profited, he lost his leisure time and claimed a modest hourly rate although an awful lot of hours. Claims for costs are measured from the point at which you start preparing the PATAS form, by the way.

The reason for the PCN in the first place was for having a wheel on the pavement. Evidently at this location, Victoria Rd in Hendon, there has been an agreement of some sort by the council not to issue PCN for this offence for some reason. Mr Mustard has asked the council to publish a list of such locations so that everyone knows where they stand and all of this palaver can be avoided.

Maybe being hit in the pocket like this will lead to improved behaviour and contract compliance by NSL?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. Unless something like £20,000 is awarded they will carry on in the same old way. Councils and their agents can get away almost with murder in CPE


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