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Council letter claiming fine on PCN after over a year of no reply ?
bazinga
post Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 14:59
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I've just received a letter from a neighbouring council 15 months after an alleged offence, where I've tried to contact them many times by post, email and phone, outlining the measures they intend to take to recover the fine they've levied. In spite of having followed their "process" for challenging/appealing, I've had no opportunity to talk to anyone, formally or informally, or to make any representation in person.

I'd appreciate any views on my odds of winning this if I let them go to court, as it looks like they're just ratcheting up the fines in the hope that I'll pay to make them stop, and like they're not going to give me any chance to explain anyway.

The timeline is as follows:

  • The alleged offence took place on 25/01/2017.
  • A PCN (front/back) was issued 9 days later by the London Borough of Ealing Council on 03/02/2017 and received 12 days after the contravention date on 06/02/2017. I tried to contact parking services by phone repeatedly on that date and following days without success (no answer or only payment options offered).
  • As advised on the back of the PCN, I sent an email challenge on 10/02/2017 (here), seven days after the PCN issue date. An automatic acknowledgement was received immediately (here). Note that the acknowledgement says that if correspondence is received in the discount period (!) they will review the case at the "discount amount" regardless of how long it takes them to respond.
  • I expected the Council to "serve a notice on the person making the representation of their decision as to whether they accept that the ground in question has been established", and to have to pay zero if it was (or to be asked to pay £65 if they rejected the challenge). I heard nothing.
  • On 03/04/2017 a Charge Certificate was issued (front/back). I received this on 05/04/2017. Again I tried to contact parking services repeatedly without success (no answer or only payment options offered), and so emailed again (here) to ask what was going on and again got an automated acknowledgement (here).
  • At the end of that week I sent photocopies of all notices received and printouts of the emails exchanged along with a covering letter (here). I never received any acknowledgement of receipt or any reply.
  • On 09/04/2018 - 15 months after the alleged offence, and after a gap of nearly a year since I last tried to contact them, I got a letter from the Council (front/back) to say I now owed £195 and outlining the steps they intended to take to recover this.


This post has been edited by bazinga: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 15:05
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post Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 14:59
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stamfordman
post Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 15:07
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Well all you can do is wait for debt recovery and declare you sent an appeal but didn't get a reply, which is one of the few statutory grounds you have to reset the process.

It looks like they put it on hold after you complained about the charge certificate and have now rebooted it.

Is all well with your name and address as per the V5C car reg doc.

This post has been edited by stamfordman: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 15:07
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bazinga
post Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 15:17
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Thanks for the reply smile.gif

Yes, they might have a 15-month backlog. TBH I don't think there's a chance in hell of getting hold of anyone to talk to so I might as well sit it out. It feels like a mugging from the start, this thing is a cash machine for them, but hopefully they don't have any more than the "discount amount" of £65 to go after.

All V5 details match the correspondence, no errors.

This post has been edited by bazinga: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 15:18
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Mad Mick V
post Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 15:35
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OP--I wouldn't bother too much about this until the OfR arrives. The Council has form with this barrel scraping and TBH if it goes any further you should consider a costs order due to unfairness and prejudice caused by undue delay.

We can give you the right words to use if the case goes to tribunal or better still if you find yourself in a position to complain to the Local Authorities Ombudsman.

Mick
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PASTMYBEST
post Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 18:31
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QUOTE (Mad Mick V @ Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 16:35) *
OP--I wouldn't bother too much about this until the OfR arrives. The Council has form with this barrel scraping and TBH if it goes any further you should consider a costs order due to unfairness and prejudice caused by undue delay.

We can give you the right words to use if the case goes to tribunal or better still if you find yourself in a position to complain to the Local Authorities Ombudsman.

Mick


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hcandersen
post Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 20:48
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Your case is pretty standard fare, nothing special except perhaps the time lag.

There is a standard procedure - stay within it, but I would add one step.

Email them, thank them for their letter and ask them to arrange to have the OfR issued as soon as possible.

Then wait for it. If it hasn't arrived by 30 April send them another email and repeat every fortnight.

Do not argue or dispute, just play the game.

And as regards not being able 'to make any representation in person', yes you did, you submitted reps. You cannot dispute matters by phone, you must write. You started off on the right foot but then lost your way.

This post has been edited by hcandersen: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 20:51
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Mad Mick V
post Mon, 16 Apr 2018 - 22:57
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@hca

I would undertake the first step but nothing more. Don't give them an opportunity to explain which would degrade the OP's position regarding the delay.

Mick
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hcandersen
post Tue, 17 Apr 2018 - 06:25
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@MMV, 'explain' what?

The OP should not raise anything which needs an explanation, but I grant you that given the OP's track record of trying to argue the toss over the phone there is a possibility that making a call to ask when an OfR may be issued may be a step too far.

They have received 2 of 3 notices by post (the PCN and CC) missing only the NOR, and also received a written response so not receiving the OfR is a low-risk issue.
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Mad Mick V
post Tue, 17 Apr 2018 - 06:39
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@hca

If this case is to be fought on unfairness due to delay the Davis precedent is key. The "explain" bit might be summed up by the highlighted words below:-

2130453008

There has been a great deal of unexplained delay in this case. The Notice to Owner was issued on 24th August 2011. However the Charge Certificate was only issued on 22nd March 2013. The Council has not given any explanation for the level of delay before issuing the Charge Certificate and obtaining registration of the debt at Court. In my judgement there is a compromise of Article 6 of the Human Rights Convention here. It is a problem for the Adjudicator to give a fair hearing in the case if the delay has potentially affected the recollection of events by either the Appellant or the parking attendant. Also, for this enforcement to be lawful the Council has a duty to exercise its powers with reasonable expedition and fairness. I note the case of R-v- Secretary of State for Home Department ex p. Doody (1994) (House of Lords) per Lord Mustill : "Where an Act of Parliament confers an administrative power there is a presumption that it will be exercised in a manner which is fair in all the circumstances" . I have also considered Davis-v- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea ( PAS 1970198981) where it was considered that a delay of more than 2/3 months in responding to an appellant's representations was prima facie evidence of unfairness in the absence of explanation . I am not satisfied that the local authority has conducted the timetable of this enforcement with reasonable expedition and that, as a result, there is an unfairness. For both of these reasons I find that the appropriate Direction here is that the Penalty Charge Notice must now be cancelled.

Mick
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hcandersen
post Tue, 17 Apr 2018 - 07:59
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@MMV, I don't understand the point.

Made reps, NOR not received. No arguments to make until appeal and we're not there yet.

My worry is that based on their track record the more the OP is fed with what they might do, but only later in the process, the more they're likely to try and bring this forward because they're impatient and do not follow procedure.

There is a simple procedure and my message to the OP is stick to it. There are no arguments to make to or have with the authority, only the adjudicator ultimately.
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bazinga
post Tue, 17 Apr 2018 - 19:23
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I can't see any point to trying to call them again - in the course of numerous calls I've never once managed to speak to a person. Just on-hold messages and a line drop or an automated "pick a number to make a payment" type system.

So is it actually worth emailing them to acknowledge their letter and to ask them to get to the OfR as quickly as possible ? Again I've never had a human response to any email, just an automated one as shown ... I assume my emails are just binned as soon as they arrive.

Thanks for all your input smile.gif
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Mad Mick V
post Tue, 17 Apr 2018 - 19:49
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OP----you might like to keep a reference the points I made here:-

http://forums.pepipoo.com/index.php?showto...t&p=1375184

As and when necessary------I don't want to tread on hca's toes!

Mick
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bazinga
post Tue, 17 Apr 2018 - 19:57
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Will do - thanks smile.gif

As a matter of interest, does this apply at all, given that I've never had (other than automatic) acknowledgement of anything I've ever sent them ?

From https://www.londontribunals.gov.uk/eat/unde...ent-process#pcn

"The enforcement authority considers your representations

The authority must, before the end of 56 days beginning with the date on which they receive representations:

Consider representations received in time;
Decide whether to accept or reject them;
Serve on the person who made the representations:
A Notice of Acceptance, if it accepts them; or
A Notice of Rejection and a Notice of Appeal form, if it does not accept them
If the authority fail to respond within 56 days, they will be deemed to have accepted the grounds in question

If they have accepted the representations or failed to respond within 56 days, they will cancel the Notice to Owner (where the Penalty Charge Notice was served at the scene) or the Penalty Charge Notice (where this was served by post) and refund any sums paid."

The "... or failed to respond ..." suggests that they have 56 days from the date I sent the challenge to accept or reject it, is that the case ?
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stamfordman
post Tue, 17 Apr 2018 - 19:59
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It's not called Ealing comedy for nothing.
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