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Application of the de minimis rule in council PCNs


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Green and Mean provided a link to this case in another thread:

 

Suzanne Campbell –v- London Borough of Camden PATAS Case No 2090523567

 

http://keycases.parkingandtrafficappeals.gov.uk/docs/Campbell%20v%20Camden.doc;%20Suspension%20of%20controls.doc;%20signage.doc;%20requirement%20for%20compliant%20sign.doc

 

On many occasions we see the de minimis rule being applied or anticipated in the case of Council PCNs.

 

This rule has been used for example to say that the absence of a "T-Bar" at the end of a double yellow line is of no consequence. It also appears to be in conflict with a rule established in the old case of Davies v Heatley [1971] RTR 145 in which it was established effectively that:

 

. . . since the traffic marking did not conform strictly to the sign as prescribed by the regulation, no offence had been committed, and the conviction would be quashed

 

However, as as often been pointed out this is under a different legislative framework and under criminal law so is merely persuasive.

 

But, the Adjudicator's decision in the case cited at the beginning of this post provides us with things we can directly refer to and quote. Key are the following:

 

The only way in which this sign could conceivably be saved is by the application of the de minimis principle. No doubt the Council would urge me to do so, but in my view this is not an appropriate case. This is not an instance of some minor error in the size or capitalisation of the letters, or the border of the sign, or even of a single misplaced word. The fact of the matter is that the Council has simply used a non-prescribed form of wording; and indeed one which is specifically pointed out in the TSM to be not permitted
(TSM = Traffic Signs Manual).

 

and

 

The Council's position - and I have to say I have some sympathy with the Council - is, in summary, that the sign indicates the suspension perfectly clearly. This is undoubtedly true and indeed is not disputed by the Appellant. However the fact that a sign is clear does not make it correct (see, for example, Davies v Heatley [1971] RTR 145) The Council in its TMO has specifically required itself to erect not a clear sign but a compliant one, and it is only the presence of a compliant sign that creates the contravention at all. In the absence of a compliant sign the vehicle in this case was not in contravention and the Appeal must be allowed.

 

So this gives us a clearer view on when Adjudicators may feel that signage issues are de minimis and when they are inadequate.

 

I hope this is of help to you if you are faced with this issue.

********************************************

Nothing in this post constitutes "advice" which I may not, in any event, be qualified to provide.

The only interpretation permitted on this post (or any others I may have made) is that this is what I would personally consider doing in the circumstances discussed. Each and every reader of this post or any other I may have made must take responsibility for forming their own view and making their own decision.

I receive an unwieldy number of private messages. I am happy to respond to messages posted on open forum but am unable to respond to private messages, seeking advice, when the substance of that message should properly be on the open forum.

Many thanks for your assistance and understanding on this.

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The point the case makes is a minor variance to a 'legal' sign is acceptable, but making up your own signs is not. A yellow line is a proper TSRGD sign even if painted a bit wrong a parking suspension sign to suspend a parking bay is not shown in the TSRGD so is not a legal sign simply applied incorrectly as it doesn't exist even in its correct form.

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It would not be de minimis if the lack of a T-bar was relevant to your specific case.

 

One reason a ticket I had was quashed the other year (amongst many) was that there was an old T-bar in the centre of the line for no reason. It has been extended but not properly erased from earlier.

 

I didn't pick it up, but the Adjudicator was on to it straight away.

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The point the case makes is a minor variance to a 'legal' sign is acceptable, but making up your own signs is not. A yellow line is a proper TSRGD sign even if painted a bit wrong a parking suspension sign to suspend a parking bay is not shown in the TSRGD so is not a legal sign simply applied incorrectly as it doesn't exist even in its correct form.

 

I think it goes a bit further than that. It's not just about making up signs it's about the need for compliant signs to be present. 'Legal' signs can be non compliant if it can be shown that the error does not fall into the realms of "some minor error in the size or capitalisation of the letters, or the border of the sign, or even of a single misplaced word".

 

Of course, each Adjudicator makes up their own mind in any event.

********************************************

Nothing in this post constitutes "advice" which I may not, in any event, be qualified to provide.

The only interpretation permitted on this post (or any others I may have made) is that this is what I would personally consider doing in the circumstances discussed. Each and every reader of this post or any other I may have made must take responsibility for forming their own view and making their own decision.

I receive an unwieldy number of private messages. I am happy to respond to messages posted on open forum but am unable to respond to private messages, seeking advice, when the substance of that message should properly be on the open forum.

Many thanks for your assistance and understanding on this.

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