16 October 2013

Informal representations still count

the informal representations repository?
Mr Mustard has long suspected that informal representations, the first stage appeal (of three, see guide to the left) get largely ignored or overtaken by a Notice to Owner. Now, if that happens to you, you have a ready made appeal in the form of this decision by an adjudicator at PATAS 

case 213043539A

One of the points made by the Appellant was that her father in law made informal representations on her behalf but she was not then offered the discount again.

The Authority accepted that the representations were received but failed to find their way to the file due to an administrative error (Mr Mustard has personal experience of this happening especially for emailed representations). It said that this had no consequence as the Authority was not bound to consider informal representations.
The Authority's response is incorrect at several levels. First and foremost, the Authority is under a duty to consider informal representations. In R (on the application of the Hackney Drivers' Association Limited) v the Parking Adjudicator and Lancashire County Council, [2012] EWHC 3394 (admin), the High Court considered Regulation 3 (2)(b)(i) of the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) Representations and Appeals Regulations 2007 and held that it means that if representations against a Regulation 9 Penalty Charge Notice are received at such address as may be specified by the Authority before a Notice to Owner is served, those representations will be considered.

Secondly, the Notice to Rejection did not address the point despite it being raised in the formal representations.  It did not even offer to settle at the reduced rate when fairness would say that this was the least that the Authority should do bearing in mind that its "administrative error" caused the problem. I should also point out that the Notice of Rejection had not even properly considered the circumstances raised by the Appellant. The Appellant said that she was notified by the hospice that her mother was dying. The Authority rejected her claim on the basis that there was no evidence of an emergency admission to hospital.

The matter has been handled poorly from beginning to end. The issues surrounding the Appellant's personal circumstances are not directly linked to the legal issues in this appeal, but the legality of the Authority's actions has a legal consequences. I find that there had been at least two instances of procedural impropriety. I am allowing the appeal.

This isn't the first time that Mr Mustard has criticised the council's attitude to people who have relatives in a hospice and he wonders if the Notice Processing Officers know that you go to a hospice because you are going to die sooner rather than later. Are you reading NPOs? here is a link to our wonderful local hospice, the North London Hospice. They always need funds, please send them some.

Please try and remember when you reject an appeal that you are writing to a human being, one who might have made a small mistake when under stress. People's lives are more important than some grubby parking ticket.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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