22 July 2022

Merton - malicious multiples

Sometimes a set of decisions in the public register of PCN Appeal decisions catches Mr Mustard's eye and this is one such case 

There are 11 PCNs in play worth a total of £1,430 although as Merton Council have accepted £65 for the one PCN which they did win and they would have settled for £715 even if they won the lot. Merton Council had to shell out about £300 in fees for the tribunal. School streets are big money earners as only 1% of motorists will go as far as the tribunal, most people will meekly pay up.

This is the location plan:

The 'flying motorbike' sign in one which no-one seems to know although given how much money they have now generated all over London Mr Mustard suspects the sign is much better known now than it used to be.

It is easy to avoid this school street, you can drive around 3 sides of a square although Mr Mustard suspects that most of the people caught were driving their kids to school or else delivery drivers.

Firstly, was it really necessary for Merton Council to issue and pursue all 11 PCNs to the bitter end (although the ending was sweet for the motorist). What are they trying to achieve? In theory the council want compliance to make the street quieter. In practice they look like they are revenue raising.

Secondly, what is interesting is that Merton Council rejected representations which hadn't been made. That is arguable depending on the wording of what was said, reference having been made to further anticipated PCNs. Had Merton Council not rejected the representations as if made against each and every PCN, which were clearly disputed, Merton Council could after 28 days have put them all up from £130 to £195. This was a tricky situation.

Thirdly, it is noted that the school run is now done on foot so the motorist has only paid one penalty at 50% which is fair enough, the council have their wish for more active travel and the distance which was being driven probably wasn't that high as it is now being walked. This is a win/win apart from for council tax payers but they are winning overall. Money doesn't have to come into this. A council could agree to waive all the PCNs in return for the motorist agreeing to not drive to school in future. Carrot rather than stick.

There were two other multiple PCN cases at this location Mr Mustard found when he searched. Mr Obeng was renting out a vehicle but his paperwork didn't meet the requirements for the transfer of liability. Nothing stops him from demanding payment from the hirer.

The other case was a Mr Nowakowski.

The failure to spot the signs seven times counted against the driver (he handled 14 similar PCNs for a person once who had turned right where they shouldn't - were they looking or were they asleep at the wheel on their commute? - they blamed Waze but they were driving!).

A different adjudicator on a different day with a different motorist might have made an entirely different decision. If an Adjudicator finds, as a fact, that a contravention occurred they must refuse the Appeal. They cannot, for a moving traffic case, even make a recommendation that the overall penalty be lowered. Mr Nowakowski isn't without fault (officially) but is paying out £455 a proportionate penalty when compared to fines imposed in the Magistrates' Courts for other wrongs - if you know, please tell us in the comments section.


Covid might be a defence to a PCN but you have to prove your case

 Here is a recent adjudication decision about a parking PCN.

Had further evidence been supplied this Appeal might have been won. You generally only get the one chance to argue your corner (although you can add additional evidence up to the date of the hearing and sometimes even at the hearing itself) the general rule is that if you are claiming an exemption you, the motorist, must prove your case. Don't say that someone else can provide something as the tribunal's job isn't to get your evidence together for you, if you want to win, put in the best paperwork you can find.


19 July 2022

Merton Council - pay to park for free!

Graham had business in Merton and one condition of his contract with the customer was the provision of visitor vouchers but on this day that deal failed.

A PCN was issued for code 12, being in a residents bay without a permit or voucher.

The informal rejection was written by someone who doesn't live in the real world.

Mr Mustard wasn't concerned, he told Graham to sit and wait for the Notice to Owner. The 50% discount didn't matter as he was after 100% off. Once the Notice arrived a more comprehensive representation was made.

The response was also longer.

Longer wasn't better in this case. The Grounds of Appeal set out the stall in detail.

Once an Appeal was made to an independent adjudicator, a lawyer, whose knowledge of parking law is vast, Merton Council could finally see the writing on the wall and they filed a Do Not Contest form and cancelled the PCN.

Take no nonsense is Mr Mustard's advice.


18 July 2022

Dilatory Barking & Dagenham Council

Councils are churning out so many PCNs that they can't keep up, that isn't cricket. They should only issue as many PCNs as they can professionally process. The public should not be left hanging, unsure of what is happening, for months, as this is stressful.

If you have a Notice of Rejection and thus the opportunity to have your case heard by an independent adjudicator at London Tribunals you would be well advised to do so as that increases the chance that Barking & Dagenham Council will be unable to cope and will have to cancel.


14 July 2022

Barnet Council / NSL - too hasty

Here is a recent independent adjudicator decision from London Tribunals. The adjudicator has to decide whether or not a contravention occurred, he cannot cancel because he believes the PCN is legal but ridiculously harsh (and Mr Mustard doesn't know what he did think, his hands were tied).

So here we have a man who got back into his car and left within 60 seconds of the single yellow line coming into operation. That does not warrant a penalty of £130, more than £2 a second.

London Councils, the umbrella body for councils in London, has issued a handbook for Civil Enforcement Officers (traffic wardens) which says this PCN should not have been issued. There is no enforcement of that handbook as London Councils have no legal powers to impose it.

This PCN was issued before Labour came to power in Barnet but the decision to contest the tribunal hearing was afterwards. Mr Mustard is going to bring this case to the attention of the councillor with responsibility for parking as a less harsh regime is necessary and fair. It is tickets like this which really set the public against a council.

The end.

3 July 2022

DVLA compensate for their incompetence

Here is an email which Mr Mustard received at the beginning of January from a lady who we will call Ms B.

I hope you’re well!

You’ve been recommended to me by lots of people who have found themselves battling PCNs in Barnet, thank you for all you do! My situation isn’t council but rather DVLA and debt recovery related, I’m a Barnet resident though so I’m hoping you’ll be able and willing to help me too.

So, we’ve just scraped together £426.50 of a £618 fine so that Marston Recovery would remove their clamp from my car. We’re not well off so that’s completely cleaned us out and has made the next few months really precarious for our family. It’s also pretty scary to be bullied out of a large sum of money in the street like that, especially at the moment when work is so unreliable.

We must now appeal via court so that we will hopefully be refunded some of that sum, or at the very least not have to pay the remaining £191.50.

The original fine was for a Dartford crossing toll charge back in August 2021 - my partner and I had a miscommunication as to who had paid, and in the end neither of us did. We would have received a penalty notice a few days later for this error, discovered the miscommunication and paid the fine, but we received no letter and had no idea there was any fine to pay. Now it has snowballed and is about 3 times as much as the original fine.

The penalty notice letters were going to our old address because when we moved house in May earlier that year, the DVLA had lost my V5 form with the updated address. All of the letters regarding the fine, and presumably subsequent court summonses were sent to the old address. The DVLA only finally admitted they lost my V5 form in November and updated my details in December!

I believe I am accountable solely for the fine of failing to pay the toll charge. So far no one has supplied me with any information of the breakdown of fines, or what to do next. Informally, over the phone, the bailiff said I had until February to appeal, but supplied no information as to who to contact. I’ve tried to get through to the DVLA, Marston Recovery office, and the Citizens Advice Bureau by phone but I’ve just been on hold for hours & the bailiff told me not to bother with email as it could take weeks to respond! Obviously I don’t have any of the letters with contact info which were meant to reach me, I really have no idea what to do.

I do have the Royal Mail certificate of posting with the Special Delivery tracking number from when I posted my V5 form with the updated address to DVLA, and the confirmation of delivery back in May. Additionally, there is an email response to me chasing up my V5 form in July - here they tell me the application may take longer than usual. They didn’t respond at all to a subsequent message I sent them through their contact centre, and I finally got through to someone via phone in November who confirmed they’d lost my details and then arranged for a “no fee V62” to be emailed to me so I could start the whole process again at no extra charge. I have a case number for these communications, if that helps to prove I did everything necessary to be contactable.

I’d really appreciate any guidance you could offer as to who to contact, if I need a solicitor, how to get hold of a copy of these letters or any information about the amounts I am being charged, and if you think I will be able to contest this at all.

Thanks in advance!

Mr Mustard worked out a strategy which he emailed to Ms B.

I plan three different approaches:

1 - file two lots of form TE7/9 to the TEC. This freezes the bailiff action whilst the application is thought about, for at least 2 weeks. Dart Charge can object to your application.

2 - make a subject access request to see what happened to the documents sent to your old address. Do you know who lives there now and can you ask them if they sent post for you back? Did you pay for mail forwarding and if so please provide a copy of it? I will need a recent utility bill and a copy of your driving licence or passport to do that.

3 - make out of time representations to Dart Charge. They like to reject them but should consider them out of time if there is a good reason why you are late, which there is.

Having decided on a strategy Mr Mustard was about to go cycling for a week (in February, it was great) and so he passed the problem on to a retired lawyer (Mr L) who now works pro bono and who is hoovering up every bit of knowledge that Mr Mustard has spent 12 years acquiring. Time is of the essence in this sort of case so having someone at their desk and not on a bicycle was advantageous.

78 emails later, the problem was resolved.

After lots of digging it was established that the warrant, which the bailiff refused to produce until after they were paid, was defective as it still showed the old address, typically bad bailiff behaviour. Dart Charge agreed to accept £3.50 for each crossing and cancel everything else. The bailiff had to refund the £426.50 - crime doesn't pay!

Mr L concluded that the real villain was DVLA so he went after them. Here is just one devastating paragraph from his complaint:

The letter clearly hit the mark as after investigating and seeing that they were completely at fault the DVLA came up with a reasonable offer of compensation.

As you can imagine, Ms B was delighted, was able to pay off the loan she had to take out in order to get the bailiff off her back and donate to charity.