15 January 2024

Westminster decide that 4 arguments do not a representation make

This might be a bit of a long read as a lot happened but if you want to know more about processing of a parking PCN it will be useful to you.

We start on 6 September 2023 with a PCN being put on the car in Albemarle St. which has, Mr Mustard finds, associations at different times with Lord Byron and Oscar Wilde

The sign, which the driver only spotted afterwards, was missed because it was within a suspended section and turned away.

After the event, on finding the PCN, the driver thought that the sign was the one above the suspended bay sign, the one we can see the back of. Mr Mustard wouldn't find himself in Westminster in a car but if he did he would be more inquisitive before concluding that a spot of free parking was in order. We were where we were. Although Mr Mustard acts regularly for the company which owns the car the driver decided to make their own challenge on the grounds of inadequate signage which they did on 20 September.
The City of Westminster rejected the informal challenge on the same day. Unusual and odd as the letter apologised for the delay in responding. Who said it was a cut and paste job? The letter didn't say why the challenge wasn't accepted just that they wouldn't cancel. This is an unhelpful trend which Mr Mustard has noticed creeping in during 2023.
All then went quiet, as the driver wasn't sucked into paying at a discount, as she knew that the company would refer to Mr Mustard who usually finds something which which to attack the ticket. On 6 November the Notice to Owner was issued to the company as the registered keeper. On 10 November Mr Mustard was instructed and he rustled up the formal representations on the same day. He found four strands on which to make representations.

A council, or the City in this case, are allowed 56 days for an on street parking PCN in which to serve their Notice of Rejection otherwise they are deemed to have accepted and must serve a Notice of Acceptance and cancel the PCN.
Service of a Notice of Rejection at this stage opens the door to the independent tribunal which Mr Mustard attends nearly every week and where he was expecting to win on argument #4 as he has done five times already.
Mr Mustard keeps an eye on enforcement authority websites so he can glean if an Acceptance or Rejection has likely been issued.
Something unusual happened on 20 December which was day 41 of 56, the City of Westminster wrote to Mr Mustard's client:

Mr Mustard looked at the ticking clock and thought there was the possibility that a Notice of Rejection would not be served (sending isn't enough, it has to arrive) by the 56th day being 4 January 2024.

On 4 January Mr Mustard emailed the City of Westminster as follows:


Not long after sending that email Mr Mustard's client, who is also very efficient, sent him a copy of the Charge Certificate which had been issued on 2 January 2024 and was a procedural impropriety as a response to representations was outstanding so the file must be placed on hold.
Having raised his query at a senior level the job of responding was given to 'Customer relations' (this isn't going to end well). The sort of response which makes Mr Mustard happy is short, simple and apologetic, something like this:

'Dear Mr Mustard. Thank you for your email. You are quite correct. We have cancelled the Charge Certificate and the PCn and apologise for the inconvenience. Yours etc'.

Here is what he got instead, just the 'good' bits:

Oh yes it does. If there is a procedural impropriety an adjudicator is bound to allow an Appeal by a motorist.

The 'correspondence' that the City of Westminster received was all in the one document with an image of the authority letter inserted into the text of the document which was headed 'Formal representations'.

Apparently in the City of Westminster a fundamental challenge to the legal wording and thus the right to issue a PCN isn't a representation. Nor, it seems, is a challenge that the Contravention did not occur despite that being one of the statutory grounds specified in the legislation. What we can gather from this is that the City of Westminster decided to act as if Mr Mustard had not written a word which put his client into a position where having been deemed to not have made a formal representation within 28 days of receiving the Notice to Owner they became liable for the PCN by default and then saw the penalty illegally increased by 50%.

Clearly, the City of Westminster had forgotten the contents of their own Notice to Owner, viz;

The non apology continued:

The City of Westminster are in for a shock. Mr Mustard doesn't fight many PCNs against this authority but one of his expert friends does. There are already 6 adjudication decisions made by 3 different adjudicators covering 4 enforcement authorities where this wording has been found to be wrong. 

Here is part of a tribunal decision which went against the London Borough of Hounslow and which you can quote to any other enforcement authority issuing parking PCNs on street (not through the post, they have different rules) when you ask them to cancel your PCN.

When an enforcement authority writes to you telling you that they are right and you are wrong, stop and think what is in it for the enforcement authority, £130 possibly. Look at what happened in the Post Office, innocent people were told they were the only one. The difference here is that Mr Mustard and the band of PCN experts to which he belongs know the difference between right and wrong. Success with a particular argument cannot be guaranteed as the decision above isn't a precedent, it is under the law as it stands legally persuasive and likely to be followed because the adjudicator named above has been deciding the fate of PCNs for more than the 13 years Mr Mustard has been appearing in front of him and the second adjudicator likewise. They are highly experienced qualified lawyers and came to their decisions after careful consideration of all the arguments. It matters not a jot to an adjudicator if they Allow or Refuse an Appeal as there is no financial incentive for them to decide either way, they apply the law without fear or favour.

Mr Mustard's final word for the parking department. Mr Mustard isn't a 'customer' so has no need of 'customer relations'. The City of Westminster have zero respect until they learn to say sorry when they have right royally lashed up.

Pity the motorist acting for themselves as knowledge is power and Mr Mustard knows what should be what. The more you all know, the better.

The end.


8 January 2024

When 'traffic wardens' meet

A funny story from the tribunal in Saturday's decisions. Here it is in full.

What is clear is that the Hounslow Council traffic warden who issued the PCN did so in a great hurry, as per usual, even though the motorist was in the frame from the very beginning.

Mr Mustard's advice is to calmly drive off in such a case as the notes made will often be deficient or the warden will make a false note as in this case. Mr Mustard has known the notes of the traffic warden to be destroyed by dashcam or doorbell footage.

If a traffic warden cheats you, please make a complaint to the council as otherwise they will continue.

The end.