7 May 2014

Notice to Owner inadequacy - final chances to use it

In December 12 the very experienced PATAS adjudicator Edward Houghton made a decision in PATAS case 213008458A that the Notice to Owner wording in use by Barnet Council was not adequate to show "in general terms the form and manner in which an Appeal" to PATAS could be made. Mr Mustard often used this as an extra banker argument in his Appeals.

Now although you might expect the same decision on wording from a different adjudicator they are not bound by the decisions of others and can even change their mind and make the opposite decision the next day on the same facts (which is rather exasperating but is the way it is). So it was in April 13 that the adjudicator Christopher Rayner (you call them Sir at an appeal hearing by the way, you do not use their name) made the opposite decision. That decision went to a Review (very rare) by the adjudicator Timothy Thorne who over-turned the decision but on other grounds and said that Mr Rayner was entitled to make the decision he did on the wording so Mr Thorne seems to be in favour of the wording being OK (although Mr Mustard isn't 100% on that point).

That leaves your Appeal as a bit of a lottery. Mr Mustard has used the argument many a time and pretty much all adjudicators, presented with the Houghton decision decided to go along with it, perhaps Mr Mustard has been lucky and been in front of the "right" adjudicators.

The council, of course, would always mention the Thorne case in their case summary.

Mr Mustard was ready with other arguments should he have ended up in front of Mr Rayner with only this point to win the day. The council used more expansive wording on its postal PCN so he was going to argue they knew they needed more words and he was also going to produce the Camden wording as they also have NSL as the contractor and have a long explanation about the right to Appeal to PATAS.

It was only a matter of time before the council decided to bite the bullet and reword the PCN to try and avoid this argument and now, as you can see above, they have done so, probably when they changed the enforcement software.

If you have a Notice of Rejection and a PATAS form and your copy of the Notice to Owner contains the old wording as used in 2013 then this is an extra argument to put in Box 5 of the PATAS appeal form. You might find it easier to copy and paste this into a separate document and enclose it with your Appeal form.

The Notice to Owner contains a procedural impropriety.

The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2007 provide as follows (my emphasis)

(3) A notice to owner served under regulation 19 of the General Regulations must, in addition to the matters required to be included in it under that regulation, include the following information—

(a) that representations on the basis specified in regulation 4 against payment of the penalty charge may be made to the enforcement authority, but that any representations made outside the period of 28 days beginning with the date on which the notice is served (“the payment period”) may be disregarded;

(b) the nature of the representations which may be made under regulation 4;

(c) the address (including if appropriate any email address or FAX telephone number, as well as the postal address) to which representations must be sent and the form in which they must be made;

(d) that if representations which have been made— (i) within the payment period; or

(ii) outside that period but not disregarded,

are not accepted by the enforcement authority the recipient of the notice may appeal against the authority’s decision to an adjudicator; and

(e) in general terms, the form and manner in which an appeal may be made.

The Notice to Owner received, states as follows, on the second page

"We will tell you how to do this when we write to you"

and therefore the requirement to tell me in the general form and manner in which I could appeal was not attempted. This is a procedural impropriety and so my appeal should please be allowed. I claim the support of the decision in case 213008458A. 

Then just hope that you get one of the "right" adjudicators. You will, of course, also employ other arguments so that you do not only rely on this one.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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