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    • If you are absolutely certain* that you were parked OK, write a letter of complaint to the Headteacher and copy in the Chair of the school governors.   If you or the car were identifiable in any way from the photo (eg visible registration number, driver's face etc) I would very politely write that you resent the untrue suggestion that you had parked/had stopped/were waiting in a way that contravened any traffic regulations, and that you are sure that the school will understand that you would like an apology and a correction to be printed in the next newsletter.  (You can also clearly state that you were identifiable from the photo because other parents have mentioned it to you).   See if that works.   You don't want to go to court for defamation as you'll need access to about £10k in fees before you get out of bed.  You just want an apology and a correction.  If what you've told us is accurate, I don't see any reasonable school failing to say sorry.     *My wife is a former school governor and my experience listening to her is that very very few parents actually understand the meaning of the no stopping/no waiting signs and road markings outside schools.  Don't complain unless you are sure you weren't stopped where you shouldn't have been.
    • And they haven't offered a speed awareness course either?  (Have you done one in the last three years or is this in Scotland?)   And is one of the notices for 34 in a 30?  As Man in the Middle says, that ought to be below the level at which they take action.   (And sorry - I don't want to appear preachy - but...  there don't have to be any warnings or signs or lines on the road to advise you of the presence of speed cameras.  If you get away with an exceptional hardship argument you will need to stick to speed limits in future - whether you know there are cameras there or not.  NB Don't know if this applies to you, but most 30 mph limits are restricted roads with a system of streetlighting and don't even need speed limit signs - you are assumed to know this from the Highway Code).
    • It's up to you if you want to pay £300 you don't owe plus whatever Unicorn Food Tax with no basis in law whatsoever that they will have made up in the Letter Before Claim.   We'd prefer you didn't.   But you have received a LBC so it's make your mind up time.   So please    - post up photos of the signage in the dark that you'll have taken two months ago (post 14)    - post up details of planning permission for their signs you'll have found out after you got onto the council, again two months ago (again post 14)    - also let us know if you agree with Brassnecked's excellent letter or if you'd like to tweak bits depending on what you've found out    - upload the LBC.  Some of them are appallingly drafted and invariably contain Unicorn Food Tax which is all useful extra ammo    - also, where are you living now (post 35) and are you comfortable with legal communications arriving at your parents'?   If you look in our PPC Successes thread at the top of the page, you will see 275 times these cheats have been seen off with their tails between their legs (and all had the same "well known legal companies" (ho! ho!) on hand).  In reality 275 times is a massive underestimate, in all 275 cases there was a "moment of victory" IYSWIM where the PPC were thrashed in court or discontinued a claim or were called off by a supermarket chain, etc., etc.  There will have been at least that number again where they were told to Foxtrot Oscar and then crawled back under their stone.  They are eminently beatable but logically when you're in legal dispute you have to put some graft in to beat the other party.
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Hi, I hope someone can offer me some advice regarding the following:


I am due to attend a tribunal hearing tomorrow to appeal against a decision to recover overpaid CTB. Although the council in question have admitted it was an "official error" on their part, they maintain that it was "reasonable" for me to have realised the error at the time.


The error in question is that I was awarded 100% CTB when I should have been awarded 50% due to me sharing the property I live in with another tenant. I did not question the decision at the time as I had provided them with all the relevant information (on more than one occasion), and trusted that their calculations were correct based on what I had provided. I am also self-employed and consequently the benefit and WTC I receive fluctuates throughout the year, so when I received a letter telling me it had changed again I did not believe anything was amiss.


Their argument seems to assume a detailed knowledge of how CTB is calculated that I could not possibly have unless I actually worked for the department! (although it seems this would still be no guarantee... ;-)


Having taken some legal advice I have decided to continue with my appeal and am due in court tomorrow. The solicitor has advised me that the Tribunal will take an "inquisitorial" approach, requiring me to give my version of events which I have outlined above.


I would like to ask if anyone has experience of these kind of Tribunals and what I can do to give myself the best possible chance of winning the case.


Many Thanks in advance!

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Is it a joint tenancy or is the tenancy in your name?



Whose name is the council tax bill in?



Did you give details of your housemate?

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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It's a joint tenancy - the council tax bill was in both names and I provided details of the other housemate. After providing all the correct information a number of times they still calculated the my CTB at 100% (although it never actually stated this as a percentage in any of their correspondence, just the weekly amount I would receive).

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I think it's a difficult case to make and you would need a very understanding judge to be successful.



The only argument you could make is that (if you told the council that you were paying council tax and your housemate was paying other bills) you have no knowledge of benefit law at all and had assumed that this was allowed as you gave all of the information to the council.



It is difficult because an assumption might be made that logically a person would realise that as benefit is paid for council tax and not for other bills, that the housemate would be responsible for 50% of the council tax regardless of what private arrangements you have made. Though I have seen judges 'accept' an appellant's assertions of ignorance of the system, because they are scornful of the idiotic actions of the LA.



I've found it often helps if the appellant is able to show that they have a history of misunderstanding these types of things. For instance, as a former benefit adviser, I could never make the case that I misunderstood the rules, but an elderly lady whose deceased husband used to manage all financial matters could legitimately make a case for not being able to make a logical jump about how these things work, as could someone with mild learning difficulties or mental health problems - basically anything that at the time could 'get in the way' of thinking logically about what was being awarded. Do you have anything like that which you could put forward in mitigation?



Does that help at all?

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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Thanks - yes that is helpful (although not quite as encouraging as I was hoping!)


TBH the LA in question makes mistakes with my benefit on such a regular basis that I never know whether it is correct or not. Every time there is a change in my circumstances (which happens quite often due to my self-employed status) they send pages and pages of "calculations" which are supposed to show how my benefit was worked out. I have never been able to make head nor tail of these - would this qualify as "ignorance of the system"?

Also, at no point did they explicitly state that I was receiving 100% CTB, just the weekly amount. I assumed that the amount I was receiving was correct at the time as I had provided them with details of my income, my tenancy agreement, and spent hours on the phone and in person confirming everything with them, as they seemed unable to update their own systems.

Not that I'm ungrateful for the help I receive, but I am consistently amazed at the level of incompetency from this department (is this common amongst LA's?)


Thanks again.

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All you can do is explain what you just wrote to the judge and hope that they see it your way. With cases like these it's difficult to know how the judge is going to interpret the 'could have reasonably known they were being overpaid' part.



Maybe take with you the pages and pages of calculations to show the judge how difficult for the layman it is to understand whether the calculation is correct or not.



The three things you have to show is:



That the LA made an error.

That you gave all the information required of you.

That you could not reasonably have known you were being overpaid.



Yes incompetency of LA decision makers is very common in my experience. Some of the errors I've come across have completely amazed me. Even in my own claim since I became ill, each change of circumstances has needed 4 to 5 emails from me to correct errors. So you're not alone in being a victim of this. Sadly with HB and CTB, unlike with DWP benefits, there is this added requirement with overpayments that you need to prove that you could not reasonably have known you were being overpaid in order to make the overpayment 'unrecoverable due to official error'.

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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Fair enough - well thanks again. Will post on here after the decision has been made to help anyone else who finds themselves in a similar predicament.


BTW were you aware that the petition group 38 Degrees is currently running a campaign about our voting system? In case anyone is interested check out https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/

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