Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Should a yellow line have a t-bar? Is the adjudication service independent?

Parking adjudicators will have you believe that the law doesn't concern itself with trifles BUT it isn't a trifle when you get walloped for a £120 fine.

However, there is a High Court case pending which could re-establish the rule of law and ensure that local authorities comply with the law. Adjudicators (funded by the local authorities who have repeatedly failed to comply with the law ... the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002) have seized on the phrase 'substantial compliance' with the interpretation that if a sign 'looks' like a sign (or line) then 'no reasonable motorist' could have been misled.

That is not how the law is written. TSRGD 2002 is explicit and sets out the dimensions (and permitted variants) for road traffic signs. Any deviations from prescribed signage requires Special Authorisation from the Secretary of State.

Don't take my word for it ...
Here is the British Parking Association's submission to the House of Commons Transport Committee:
30. Traffic and parking regulations are given effect by traffic signs and markings. In the UK signs are prescribed precisely in Traffic Signs Regulations and General Direction TSRGD (SI 2002/3113) and if a sign or marking does not comply with TSRGD then the regulation has no effect. We believe that it is important that, particularly for parking, where drivers are expected to comply with regulations, that the precision of signing is preserved and enforced. Where a driver is at risk of a financial penalty, or worse, signs cannot be "about right".

Not convinced?
Check out the statement of the DETR (now the Department for Transport) in relation to the requirement to have t-bars terminating double and single yellow lines reported by the BBC here:

One of the main problems, he claims, is when double yellow lines are painted without a T-bar finishing off the lines at each end.

The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) confirmed that with single or double yellow lines there must be a block painted at a 90-degree angle at the end of the lines.
A spokesman said: "If this end line isn't there then the lines have been laid out incorrectly by the local authority and you would have grounds to challenge the ticket in court."

In the above case North Yorkshire Police admitted:

We have been open and honest about this matter from the beginning and we have admitted we were in the wrong
North Yorkshire Police

One has to ask the question when was the law allowed to be 'dumbed down' and by whom?
Well, it seems to be that adjudicators are applying their own interpretation to the law (TSRGD 2002) ... and just remember that the adjudicators are appointed by the Joint Committee and are remunerated by the Joint Committee.

Who are the Joint Committee? The Joint Committee comprises of members from the councils participating in Civil Parking Enforcement.

To ensure that all the lines and signs comply with the law is an expensive business ... hence the reason for 'dumbing down.'
Apparent bias in the Judicial context. Lord Goff of Chieveley cited the dictum of Blackburn J in R and Rand (1866) LR 1 QB 230, 232:
“Any direct pecuniary interest, however small, in the subject of inquiry, does disqualify a person from acting as a judge in the matter.”

Once it is realised by the motoring public that the 'independent' adjudication services are remunerated on a per ticket basis (60p per PCN in the case of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal) then the more tickets issued the more money they receive.

Successful technical defences based on councils failure to comply with TSRGD 2002 reduce the amount of PCNs that can be issued and enforced.

Any rocket scientists care to comment?

Oh, the case of Glenn Dickinson v Hull City Council has been given leave for Judicial Review on the grounds that the Traffic Penalty Tribunal are not independent and signs must be as prescribed in law. Looks like Herron v The Parking Adjudicator (independence of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal and TSRGD points) and Pendle v The Parking Adjudicator (TSRGD points) are likely to follow the same route after being refused at written stage are now both moving towards an oral hearing.

In the meantime, anyone with a ticket on an incorrectly terminated yellow line or coming before the Traffic Penalty Tribunal and raising concerns over their independence can request that their case be 'stayed' sine die pending the outcome of Dickinson.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All I can say, after reading up to this point, is that I'm stupefied! I was directed here to refer to the Dickinson case after posting on a penalty notice forum, having received an 'unfair' PCN, to discover that the councils are effectively judge, jury and executioner to a 'production line' of hapless motorists.

Actually I'm going to retract the statement... of 'being stupefied' that is; sadly I have to report that the few dealings I've had with councils/councillors has left me with the impression of them being generally arrogant, insensitive and self-serving (though the better part of that experience was in Australia)

I will be interested to see what becomes of reckless council habits in the wake of the fall from grace of 'leaders' of the banking system and other such 'untouchable' institutions once 'ruled' with impunity.

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