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PCN issued due to wrong month scratched on visitor parking voucher, visitor parking voucher
MTJ
post Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - 17:32
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Hi. My sister recently received a PCN from Barnet Council as she had scratched the wrong month on a visitor parking voucher. The council have rejected the informal appeal in which we used the "de minimis" argument. I've copied below the main details of the informal appeal and Barnet's reply. Is it worth going to a formal appeal or should we just pay the discounted rate while we still can ? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Informal appeal
On Saturday 3rd of August I was visiting..... Knowing the parking restrictions, I had duly completed a visitor's parking voucher on my arrival. Just before 2.55pm I noticed a traffic warden looking at my car and went outside to find out what was happening. She informed me that the voucher had been incorrectly completed (from her perspective) because I had inadvertently scratched out the month of July instead of August. The rest of the voucher had been correctly completed. I tried to explain that it had been a genuine mistake and that the 3rd of July 2019 had not been a Saturday, so I had not been trying to fraudulently re-use the recently-purchased voucher, which had been her implication. Despite my plea for common sense to prevail, she preceded to issue the penalty notice.

Please also note the Chief Adjudicator's report on a similar recent Brighton council appeal, which I have copied below. In reference to my case, the last time the 3rd of July fell on a Saturday was back in 2010, which was a long time before these parking vouchers were issued, therefore (applying the same logic) a similar "de minimis" mistake has occurred which does not invalidate the voucher.

"The PCN was issued for parking in a resident’s permit space without displaying a valid permit. The appellant was a visitor. She obtained and displayed a visitor’s scratch-card voucher. This required her to scratch off the day of the week,date,month and year. She made a mistake with the date, scratching off 21 instead of 22; all the other details were correct. The council claimed that this error invalidated the voucher.
Held: This was the wrong approach. No contravention had occurred. The mistake was de minimis and did not invalidate the voucher. Given the
combination of correct information given, the voucher could not have been used on any other day. While the adjudicator did not necessarily criticise the enforcement officer for issuing the PCN, the council should have appreciated that a minor and genuine error had occurred and cancelled it.
Appeal allowed."

Barnet Council reply
Contravention: Parked in a residents` or shared use parking place or zone without a valid virtual permit or clearly displaying a valid physical permit or voucher or pay and display ticket issued for that place where required, or without payment of the parking charge.
We have carefully considered the evidence you have supplied and decided not to cancel your PCN. The reasons for this decision are stated below. The Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) observed your vehicle parked in a residents' parking place without any form of valid permit that allowed it to be parked there. I must advise you that vehicles are not permitted to stop within a residents' parking space without a valid permit as this is deemed to be a contravention and therefore a PCN will be issued.
I have noted the comments made in your correspondence regarding the incorrectly completed voucher. Please be advised that if any part of a voucher is incorrectly completed and displayed in the vehicle, it is invalid and a PCN will be correctly issued. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that the correct details are scratched off on a voucher prior to displaying in the vehicle.
I have also noted the comments made in your correspondence regarding another case that was cancelled. Please be advised that each case is dealt with separately and the decisions made on other case have no effect on the outcome of this case.
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post Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - 17:32
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PASTMYBEST
post Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - 18:25
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You must see the council point of view. That permit might well have been used in July How do you propose to show it was not? can you show that the vehicle was somewhere else in July?


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MTJ
post Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - 18:39
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Thanks for the reply. I should clarify that the date and the day were correctly completed, which meant that the date combination scratched out was Saturday July 3rd, whereas it should have been Saturday August 3rd. The last time that July 3rd fell on a Saturday was back in 2010, well before these vouchers were issued.
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Incandescent
post Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - 19:43
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Usual reply from Barnet, a very venal and rapacious council, (just ask Mr Mustard !). If you are prepared to take them all the way, Mr Mustard may be able to help you, he is a member on here and has had many successes with this deeply wicked council.
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MTJ
post Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - 19:55
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Thanks v. much for the advice Incandescent. I'll fight them all the way if necessary. I'll see if I can get in touch with (Mean) Mr Mustard....
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PASTMYBEST
post Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - 21:23
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QUOTE (MTJ @ Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - 20:55) *
Thanks v. much for the advice Incandescent. I'll fight them all the way if necessary. I'll see if I can get in touch with (Mean) Mr Mustard....


Send him a PM


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stamfordman
post Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - 22:27
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Their reply only reiterates that the PCN was correctly issued, which it was, and citing another case just gives them the fall back of saying it is not binding, which it isn't.

They should be put firmly to the test of fairness and de minimis for this case.
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Mad Mick V
post Fri, 16 Aug 2019 - 08:24
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OP----to be honest, I would settle at the discount given that you are bang to rights.

I understand the points made by other members but Barnet won't budge and you will have to argue your case before an adjudicator.

In that respect de minimis won't fly and you are left with mitigating circumstances where an adjudicator might sympathise but would have no discretion in the matter.

The odds of you appealing successfully are IMO very low.

Mick
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Mr Mustard
post Fri, 23 Aug 2019 - 11:30
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I think there is an escape route. London Councils issued guidance when differential PCN values were introduced.
They also issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions on 15 May 2007. Here is one of them, Q5.

Q. Code 12 and 19 seem very similar but yet are at different penalty levels, what’s the difference between them?

A. In simple terms, a code 12 should be issued when a vehicle is parked in a residents’ or shared use bay and either:
- nothing at all is displayed; or
- what is on display could never have been valid for that place.

Code 19 should be issued when a vehicle in a residents’ or shared use bay is displaying something that is invalid at that point but that could have been valid at some other point.


Therefore the PCN should have been for £60 and exceeds the sum applicable in all the circumstances of the case.

That would be the challenge I would make once the Notice to Owner arrives and again at the tribunal if necessary.

It is fair that the lower penalty should apply as the motrist tried to comply and made a small error, rather than parked without trying to comply at all.

The decision in case 2190123464 is also of assistance in supporting this argument (and if I trawl through my old acses I will probably find one which is the same visitor voucher case as the OP's)

The Appellant made the point that as his permit had expired by less than two weeks, the Authority should have used a Code 19 PCN. He submits that it is common practice to allow a lapse of several weeks.
The Authority points out that it allows a window of two weeks for a Code 19 and the Appellant's permit had in fact expired by over two weeks.
It is common ground that Code 12 and Code 19 overlap to some extent. At one stage, these were used to indicate "differential penalties". Code 19 bears a lower penalty and covers genuine forgetfulness to renew a permit.
Differential penalties are no longer used but the essence of the choice between the two Codes remain, and not really disputed.
What is disputed is the "grace period". While the Authority accuses the Appellant of using his own interpretation of the grace period, it has not escaped the Appellant's or my notice that the Authority failed to state this period in its Notice of Rejection. Furthermore, while it now states that the period is two weeks, it has offered no evidence to confirm this. It has not referred to any published document or guidance from which the information can be ascertained.
The responsibility for renewing a permit falls on the permit holder. I am satisfied that there was a contravention. That said, where the same situation can give rise to more than one contravention, the Authority is obliged to proceed on the one involving the smallest penalty. I must therefore consider whether the Authority has acted fairly in preferring the appropriate PCN code. I find that it has not done so. I allow the appeal.


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MTJ
post Sat, 31 Aug 2019 - 08:38
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Thanks very much Mr Mustard. I really appreciate everyone's help with this. We're going to continue to challenge this and have drafted a formal challenge letter (copied below). Grateful for any feedback. Many thanks.

"To Barnet Council

I am writing to appeal against the above PCN.

On Saturday 3rd of August I was visiting……. I had duly completed a visitor's parking voucher on my arrival. Just before 2.55pm I noticed a Civil Enforcement Officer looking at my car and was informed that the voucher had been incorrectly completed (from her perspective) because I had inadvertently scratched out the month of July instead of August. The rest of the voucher had been correctly completed. I tried to explain that it had been a genuine mistake but she disregarded this and issued the PCN.

It is my belief that a contravention did not occur on the following basis:

It should have been clear to the Civil Enforcement Officer that a genuine mistake had been made. The only omission is the incorrect month being scratched off. This should be considered under the de-minimis principle under which appeals have been upheld at PATAS (see case numbers 2110164347 and 2110057835).
The permit which was displayed was correct in all respects except that the wrong month had been scratched off. This was such a trivial mistake that I would hope that the authority would exercise discretion and cancel the PCN. If they are not prepared to do this, then I contend that the contravention is incorrect in the circumstances of this case.

I was issued with a PCN referencing a contravention of code 12, whereas the circumstances of the case are consistent with code 19 given in the schedule of penalties published by London Councils and specifically referred to in Q5 of the FAQs published on 15 May 2007 (copied below).

Q. Code 12 and 19 seem very similar but yet are at different penalty levels, what’s the difference between them?

A. In simple terms, a code 12 should be issued when a vehicle is parked in a residents’ or shared use bay and either:
- nothing at all is displayed; or
- what is on display could never have been valid for that place.

Code 19 should be issued when a vehicle in a residents’ or shared use bay is displaying something that is invalid at that point but that could have been valid at some other point.


I trust you will consider the merits of the above points and allow my appeal.


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Gert
post Sat, 31 Aug 2019 - 10:55
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Assuming that the permits are not zone specific, it should have been a 19, not a 12.

It can be seen to have once been valid but when checked it wasn't.

Hopefully the person dealing with the formal reps is reasonable, clued up and their manager isn't telling the staff to uphold all the way to the Tribunal steps.
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hcandersen
post Sat, 31 Aug 2019 - 12:07
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The fundamental point is what does the order state?

Then the fact that the authority have not discharged their duty which is NOT to decide whether to accept or reject reps solely based on whether the CEO was correct in issuing a PCN but whether the representations should be accepted. These are not the same.

Any statement by the authority to the effect that a voucher must be completed as they direct otherwise a penalty is due is, frankly, nonsense. The law does not provide for this.

De minimis is a legal construct which the authority must consider, it is not a synonym for discretion.

And the context of de minimis....is was it still apparent on the balance of probabilities that the requirements of the order had been met?
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MTJ
post Thu, 17 Oct 2019 - 07:17
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UPDATE: SUCCESSFUL APPEAL

I'm happy to confirm that we received a letter from Barnet Council a couple of days ago confirming that they have cancelled our PCN.

The reason given for the cancellation is shown below but it must have been due to the Code 12/Code 19 argument.

"Upon investigation into your case, I am able to confirm that this PCN has now been cancelled. This is due to a technical error.
Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience that this matter may have caused. However, please note that this does not form an acceptance of your specific representation, nor does it affect the outcome of any other PCN`s issued under similar circumstances."


Many thanks to everyone who contributed their advice, in particular Mr. Mustard.


Our formal appeal letter is shown below. Hopefully it might help someone in a similar position.

To Barnet Council,

I have received a Notice to Owner letter and can confirm that I wish to appeal against the above PCN for the reasons stated below.

On Saturday 3rd of August I was visiting my elderly mother at her home address, which is xxxxxxxxx. I had duly completed a visitor's parking voucher on my arrival. Just before 2.55pm I noticed a Civil Enforcement Officer looking at my car and was informed that the voucher had been incorrectly completed (from her perspective) because I had inadvertently scratched out the month of July instead of August. The rest of the voucher had been correctly completed. I tried to explain that it had been a genuine mistake but she disregarded this and issued the PCN.

It is my belief that a contravention did not occur on the following basis:

It should have been clear to the Civil Enforcement Officer that a genuine mistake had been made. The only omission is the incorrect month being scratched off. This should be considered under the de-minimis principle, under which appeals have been upheld at PATAS (see case numbers 2110164347 and 2110057835).
The permit which was displayed was correct in all respects, except that the wrong month had been scratched off. This was such a trivial mistake that I would hope that the authority would exercise discretion and cancel the PCN. If they are not prepared to do this, then I contend that the contravention is incorrect in the circumstances of this case.

I was issued with a PCN referencing a contravention of code 12, whereas the circumstances of the case are consistent with code 19 given in the schedule of penalties published by London Councils and specifically referred to in Q5 of the FAQs published on 15 May 2007 (copied below).

Q. Code 12 and 19 seem very similar but yet are at different penalty levels, what’s the difference between them?

A. In simple terms, a code 12 should be issued when a vehicle is parked in a residents’ or shared use bay and either:
- nothing at all is displayed; or
- what is on display could never have been valid for that place.

Code 19 should be issued when a vehicle in a residents’ or shared use bay is displaying something that is invalid at that point but that could have been valid at some other point.


I trust you will consider the merits of the above points and allow my appeal.


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Incandescent
post Thu, 17 Oct 2019 - 08:12
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Well done !
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Mr Mustard
post Wed, 23 Oct 2019 - 13:27
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Happy to have helped.


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All advice given by me on PePiPoo is on a pro bono basis (i.e. free). PePiPoo relies on Donations so do donate if you can. Sometimes I will, in addition, personally offer to represent you at London Tribunals (i.e. within greater London only) & if you wish me to I will ask you to make a voluntary donation, if the Appeal is won, directly to the North London Hospice.
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