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Parking offences

Often Local Authorities issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) that should be challenged and if necessary appealed to the Parking Adjudicator.

The Parking Authority has the power to cancel these and that discretion which must be exercised fairly and proportionately taking into account any representations that you make about the reason why you parked where you did or why the Parking Authority should not enforce any penalty. We have an excellent record of challenging these notices. In London the relevant legislation is the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003. Generally the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General Regulations 2007 apply inside and outside London.

Grace Periods

The Traffic Management Act 2004 provides for ‘grace periods’ of 10 minutes when your valid parking ticket has expired. The guidance states:

Parking policy should be designed to enable people to access the community and carry on their business as easily as possible. Whilst it is important to undertake enforcement, to prevent abuse of parking facilities to the detriment of the majority, enforcement should be sensitive, fair and proportionate. This would not be the case if a driver received a penalty charge notice (PCN) for returning to their vehicle only moments after the expiry of a period of permitted parking. Therefore, the law requires that a penalty charge must not be issued to a vehicle which has stayed parked in a parking place on a road or in a local authority’s car park beyond the permitted parking period for a period of time not exceeding 10 minutes. The grace period applies to on street and off-street parking places provided under traffic orders, whether the period of parking is paid for or free. Any penalty charge during the 10-minute grace period would be illegal, unless the vehicle itself is parked unlawfully (e.g. where the motorist has not paid any required parking fee or displayed a parking ticket where required).

It is important that all civil enforcement officers understand that grace periods only apply to designated parking places where a person is permitted to park. A road with a restriction (e.g. single yellow line) or prohibition (e.g. double yellow line) is not a ‘designated’ parking place either during – or outside of – the period of the restriction or prohibition…’

The Parking Adjudicator’s Powers

As the case of R (on the application of Alexis Alexander) v The Parking Adjudicator & the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham [2014] EWHC 560 (Admin) makes clear the Adjudicator when considering the issue of enforcement under the Regulations should consider:

  • Whether the decision was wrongly made as a result of an error on the part of the administrative staff;
  • A party who had failed to appear at or be represented at a hearing had a good and sufficient reason for his failure to appear;
  • Where the decision was made after a hearing, new evidence has become available since the conclusion of the hearing the existence of which could not have been reasonably known or foreseen;
  • Where the decision was made without a hearing , new evidence has become available since the decision was made, the existence of which could not have been reasonably known or foreseen;
  • The interest of justice require such a review.’

The Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984 and the Traffic Signs Regulations and Directions 2016 set out very exact requirements for signage which must be complied with else the penalty should be cancelled.

Example Cases

We successfully challenged a PCN which was issued for parking in the bay outside the western gates of Dulwich Park on College Road SE21. A PCN was issued for parking on zig-zag markings near the pedestrian crossing but they were marked in the lay-by not at right angles to the crossing as they should be according to the Regulations. We have successfully challenged an alleged contravention on Denmark Hill London SE5 where the bus lane markings and restrictions were not clear. We have challenged a PCN in Lambeth where the entry to the controlled zone was not clearly marked.

Local Parking Authorities have a duty to maintain clear signage in accordance with the regulations but it seems too often they spend money on enforcement to generate revenue rather than spending it on maintenance of clear signage and awareness for road users.

Call GT Stewart on 020 8299 600 and speak to a member of our specialist motoring law team or use our online enquiry form.

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