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Threatening rejection of PCN challenge


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Hoping someone can help me here, as I'm not too versed in the details of challenging parking offences...

 

Late last year I received a PCN from Lambeth council for an offence that allegedly occurred at a date and time that I was in work in North London and my car was parked outside my flat in North London. This is presumably a case of either administrative error or a cloned number plate.

 

The PCN was sent over Christmas while I was out of the country for several weeks. As soon as I was aware of the PCN I wrote to them to appeal on the basis that the alleged contravention did not occur and to ask for the photographic evidence of the contravention.

 

Lambeth council have since written to me saying that the 'PCN has already reached a stage at which you no longer have any statutory right to make representations to the council'. Furthermore, if I do not pay the fine they say that the charge will increase from £50 to £150 and will be registered as a debt with the Northampton County Court.

 

I will not pay for an offence that did not occur but I'm worried about the implications of having a debt registered with a county court. Should I be? Also, what further avenues are open for me to challenge this PCN?

 

Thanks in advance.

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I don't believe so - all I got from them, I think, was the original penalty charge notice. I can check the details when I get home though.

 

Why do you ask?

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I don't believe so - all I got from them, I think, was the original penalty charge notice. I can check the details when I get home though.

 

Why do you ask?

There are strict timelines for issuing of these documents. Also if you do not receive them you can fill out a statutory declaration and get the charge put back to the original (non-discounted) amount.

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This does not constitute legal advice and is not represented as a substitute for legal advice from an appropriately qualified person or firm.

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Ok - thanks. Here are the details.

 

- PCN issued on 11/11/2008 - never received, as it wasn't my car that was there!

 

- Notice to owner sent on 23/12/08, amount £100

 

- I sent a letter challenging the PCN on 27/01/09, as soon as I received it having been abroad.

 

- Charge certificate sent on 29/01/09, amount £150

 

- Acknowledgement of my letter sent on 30/01/09

 

- Letter sent by Lambeth turning down my PCN challenge on 08/05/09, reducing charge to £50 if paid within 14 days. Otherwise debt of £150 + £5 will be registered with Northampton County Court.

 

Do I have any way to challenge this without doing anything that would affect my credit-rating? Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Does anyone have any advice on how to contest this?

 

Can it really be the case that if you miss the one month window to challenge the Notice to Owner that there is no further opportunity for redress?!

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I think you argue two things:

 

1) Your appeal was in-time as it is the date on which the NTO was served on you that is relevant not the date it was delivered to your address. The council have also not taken into account any seasonal delay in the postal services.

 

2) The council have de facto accepted that the penalty exceeded the applicable amount as they are offering to accept a reduced amount. However the law only permits them to cancel the charge in these circumstances and does not allow the levying of a lower amount.

 

But you must respond to the charge certificate separately.

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But my main argument is that my car wasn't in Lambeth on the date of the PCN - the offence didn't happen. I just don't know how to challenge this as they've said that I no longer have the statutory right to do so.

 

If I right a letter will they not just disregard it and send round the bailiffs?

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But my main argument is that my car wasn't in Lambeth on the date of the PCN - the offence didn't happen. I just don't know how to challenge this as they've said that I no longer have the statutory right to do so.

 

If I right a letter will they not just disregard it and send round the bailiffs?

 

I think you need to focus on what is going to give you best chance of success.

 

You can always talk to PATAS an see whether they will accept a late appeal.

 

Your first priority must be to respond to the charge certificate.

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Thanks Bernie

 

How do you mean 'respond to the charge certificate separately'? Respond how? To whom? Separate from what? Sorry if I'm being dim.

 

Also, I wasn't aware of PATAS so have had a quick look through their site and found the following information (on http://www.parkingandtrafficappeals.gov.uk/tmaparkingenforcement.htm):

 

"If the authority fail to respond within 56 days [to a representation], they will be deemed to have accepted the grounds in question."

 

99 days elapsed between their acknowledgement of my representations and their final response and decision. They did previously send a letter indicating that they had a backlog of cases but this is not a response. Although my representations were more than 28 days after the Notice to Owner was issued, that same page above states that I still have a right to make representations after that date - just that they may be denied for this reason - so therefore, presumably, the process should be the same?

 

Who should I write to with these complaints?

 

Thanks again

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Hi.

 

The system works like this:

 

When a PCN is issued, the Local Authority will issue a Notice to Owner to the person they believe to be the owner of the car. Usually they just find the registered keeper of that registration number, and they "believe" them to be the owner of the car. You instantly become legally liable and get an NTO (Notice to Owner) and have 28 days to contest liability.

 

In this case, the NTO was dated 23 December and you did not contest it in time. Not your fault perhaps, but nonetheless you forfeit your right of appeal.

 

Now for a possible route you can take...

 

If you were genuinely unable to contest the NTO because you were abroad, then you can ignore the charge certificate and wait until an Order for Recovery is sent to you.

 

At this point you will have the right to file a Statutory Declaration which is a legal challenge to the Charge Certificate. It's legal, but not too complicated to do. The letters will explain how. You will file it on the grounds that you did not receive the Notice to Owner - you were out the country.

 

NOTE - it is NOT a challenge to the original PCN, just to the charge certificate. Normally, if you do this in time (as stated on the document) it will be accepted without question.

 

What it does is compel the local authority to cancel the charge certificate and issue you with a new Notice to Owner.

 

Assuming it goes as it should, then "bingo!"

 

Now you have 28 days again to contest liability for the original PCN, on the grounds that it was a cloned plate. Send them a photocopy of your tax disc at the time, as the parking attendants normally record the serial number from the disc when they issue a PCN. Obviously if it wasn't your car, it will have a different tax disc in the windscreen.

 

If this isn't viable for some reason it's more tricky but comparing photos will probably do - they will look for clues on their photos taken when the PCN was issued - such as the styling of the number plates, upholstery (if visible), chips or dents in the paintwork, they types of bumpers, and so on to verify whether it is a different vehicle. They should be happy to send you copies of their photos if you ask, so you can see for yourself.

 

It is also important that you do not try and enter into an exchange of correspondence with them. They won't play ball and it screws up the process and works against you! Wait for the new Notice to Owner then send everything - your representation, copy of the tax disc and some photos of the car all at once. The whole bundle will constitute your appeal. If you leave some out, say the tax disc details, they will process your first letter without it and your sole chance to submit a representation will be 'used up'.

 

Also - speak to DVLA and the police about the cloning... more serious things than parking offences could come your way, so get it on record that someone's cloned your plates!

 

Hope this helps.

Edited by Jamberson
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Hi Jamberson

 

Thanks for your advice. I'll wait for the Order for Recovery and file a Witness Statement as you suggest.

 

Although there's a risk of having to pay more this way, I'd rather that than pay anything for an offence I genuinely didn't commit.

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I would. The extra fee will only be the cost of them registering the debt with the court - I think it's £5. But doing it this way gives you a route back into the appeals process, and you'll get the additional costs revoked anyway.

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In this case, the NTO was dated 23 December and you did not contest it in time. Not your fault perhaps, but nonetheless you forfeit your right of appeal.

 

 

The date of issue of the NtO is irrelevant; what matters is the date it was served.

 

The law makes it clear that service is presumed 2 business days after posting. So an NtO posted on 23rd December 2008 would not be served, at the earliest, until 29th December.

 

This presumption is rebuttable and in the case of the OP, can be rebutted because he was out of the country (he can presumably prove this and the dates concerned)

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Fair comment Pat, but I don't think it affects the situation. The OP needs to get the CC revoked, so a stat dec is the way to go.

 

I think in law, the notice is served when it is delivered, irrespective of when the intended recipient finds and opens his mail. So even using the 2 working day presumption, he appealed on the 29th day, which is late.

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Now I'm confused again!

 

The statutory declaration you mention is the same as the witness statement, as per the PATAS web site, I guess?

 

In which case, it mentions two situations that could be construed as relevant to my case and grounds for challenging an Order for Recovery. I quote...

 

  • you did not receive the postal Penalty Charge Notice or Notice to Owner in question; or

 

  • you made representations to the Enforcement Authority concerned but did not receive a Notice of Rejection from that authority;

 

I did receive the Notice to Owner but my receipt was severely delayed. I did make representations to the enforcement authority and received no Notice of Rejection, just a letter indicating that the 28-day period had passed and my representations would not be considered.

 

If I pay in the next couple of days they will reduce the charge to £50. If not, it's £155!

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Yes, they call it a witness statement.

 

You could file it on either grounds, which I think is what Pat was getting at above. You can file on the basis that you did not get a proper notice of rejection of your representation, if you prefer.

 

The bit about not receiving the NTO means, in effect, you didn't receive it and have a chance to respond to it prior to the issue of the Charge Certificate. It doesn't mean you literally never received it.

 

I wouldn't be tempted to pay just because they're offering you a discount. You say it's a cloned plate and you didn't commit the offence - so it seems unfair that you should have to pay a penny.

 

Have you discussed the cloning with the local authority by the way? Why don't you call them and explain what's happened. If it's a clear case, they might even be willing to help out and save you the effort of filing the paperwork with the court.

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Thanks.

 

I don't know for sure that there's a cloned number plate - it could just be an administrative error. All I know is that my car wasn't in Lambeth that day, or even that month.

 

Unfortunately I've replaced my tax disc since so will have to rely on their photographic evidence not matching.

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Fair enough. It might also be that the parking attendant keyed in the reg number wrongly, which is how your car got caught up in this. I guess you can't say for sure at this stage.

 

In any case, deal with the statutory declaration part first, after you get the Order for Recovery - I think if you go for "didn't receive the Notice to Owner" it's almost a formality.

 

After that, you will be able to contest the PCN itself by denying it was your vehicle and supplying some images for them.

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Regardless of whether or not you think it may be a simple keying error (which coincidentally threw up the same make/model/colour as yours), I would report the possibility of cloning to the Police.

 

If nothing else, it will add to the credibility of your claim.

 

If you do this, start carrying your car docs, as you will flag on ANPR.

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