Under the new Traffic Management (NI) Order 2005, responsibility for the enforcement of illegal parking in NI has been transferred to TransportNI. Within TransportNI a Parking Enforcement Processing Unit (PEPU) has been established to collect parking fines, enforce non payment and to arbitrate on disputes from vehicle owners.
The NI Traffic Penalty Tribunal (NITPT)
NITPT is an independent tribunal established within the Northern Ireland Court Service to consider appeals against Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued by or on behalf of the Roads Service.
The Tribunal is conducted by an Adjudicator, who is a qualified solicitor/barrister with at least 5 years' legal experience. The Adjudicator sits to consider the issues relevant to each appeal and will then give a decision based on all the available facts. The decision of the Adjudicator is binding on both the person who is appealing and on the Roads Service.
What does it do?
The NITPT can only become involved in a dispute once the vehicle owner has first contacted the Roads Service TransportNI Parking Enforcement Processing Unit (PEPU) and made his/her complaint.
If the complaint is rejected, the PEPU will issue the owner with a Notice of Rejection of Representations. Included with this notice will be a Notice of Appeal to the Tribunal and a guidance leaflet.
Once a properly completed appeal is received by the Tribunal, it is copied to TransportNI to ascertain if the appeal is to be contested by the Department’s enforcement unit. If a contest is indicated, the Tribunal will request all documentation relevant to the appeal and request a copy be sent to the appellant.
When all documentation is received, the appeal papers are placed before an adjudicator who will consider all the evidence before the Tribunal and give a written decision that is binding both on the vehicle owner and TransportNI
How do I Appeal?
The Tribunal’s appeal process can only be availed of once a PCN has been formally challenged in writing to TransportNI and the vehicle owner has been issued with a “Notice of Rejection of Representation”. The vehicle owner has then 28 days to appeal to the Tribunal using the appeal forms accompanying the Notice.
If you have not received this notice you cannot appeal as of yet and must contact TransportNI, within 28 days of receipt of your Notice to owner. For details on how to contact the PEPU please click here.
Accompanying the Notice will be a Guidance Leaflet and a Notice of Appeal form. There is a list of the grounds upon which you can appeal on this website. The Notice should be completed in full and sent to the NITPT
You have 28 days, from issue of The Notice of Rejection, to appeal.
An appeal can be dealt with in two ways: by personal appearance, where the appellant attends the Tribunal and gives oral evidence; or by postal application, where the Adjudicator gives a decision based on all the documentation provided by TransportNI and the appellant. The appellant should indicate which method they prefer on the appeal form. If a personal appearance is requested the appellant will receive a Notice of Attendance from the Tribunal stating the date, time and location of hearing. If a postal application is requested the appeal will be acknowledged and placed before the next available Adjudicator.
In either circumstance the Adjudicator will consider all the facts and issues in the dispute and will give a written decision which is binding on both the person appealing and on TransportNI
What happens if my appeal is late?
You have 28 days, from issue of the Notice of Rejection, to appeal.
If you wish to appeal, but your appeal falls outside the 28 day appeal period, you can still submit it, but you must state why the appeal is late.
The Adjudicator will first consider your reasons for the late appeal and decide whether to extend the time for lodging your appeal.
If your application to extend the appeal period is successful, your appeal will then be listed for hearing at the next available Tribunal sitting.
If your appeal is unsuccessful, you will be notified accordingly and you should pay the fine immediately as further enforcement will ensue.
What happens at my appeal?
Once an Appeal is lodged, the NITPT will write to you confirming receipt. You will then receive notification of hearing shortly thereafter.
If a postal application has been requested the appeal will be acknowledged and placed before the next available Adjudicator. If a personal appearance has been requested the appellant will receive a Notice of Attendance stating the date, time and location of hearing.
The Tribunal hearings take place in the Tribunals Hearing Room in Belfast.
Attending the Tribunal for personal hearings will be the Adjudicator, a representative from TransportNI and the appellant. The Tribunal is intended to be, at all times, informal and the Adjudicator will guide each party through the hearing, ensuring each has the opportunity to put their case forward.
Although those attending will not be asked to take an oath, and whilst the Tribunal endeavours to remain informal, all parties are reminded of their duty to tell the truth at all times.
The Adjudicator should give his/her decision immediately, but each party will receive a written Notice of Decision from the Tribunal. If the appeal is upheld (granted), TransportNI will be notified to withdraw the PCN (or refund your clamping fees etc as per the Adjudicator’s decision). If the appeal is refused, the appellant has 28 days from the date of the Adjudicator’s written decision to pay the penalty to TransportNI.
What is a telephone conference call?
The Traffic Penalty Tribunal endeavours to facilitate vehicle owners who wish to have a personal hearing in front of the Presiding Adjudicator but are unable to attend the Hearing Centre. TCCs allow appellants to take part in a hearing from their own home or from a convenient place where they will not be disturbed. The Adjudicator will conduct the hearing from the privacy of an office in the Hearing Centre and will be able to talk to both the appellant and TransportNI's representative during the hearing.
How do I apply for a TCC?
When you are filling in your appeal form you will have ticked the box requesting a personal hearing. If, when you receive your hearing invitation you are unable to attend due to other commitments, illness or disability you should contact the Tribunal immediately. The Tribunal will automatically offer you the TCC facility although you can, of course, seek an adjournment and attend on another date.
How do I prepare for a TCC?
You will receive confirmation from the Tribunal that your appeal will be dealt with by TCC and supplied with a date and time for the hearing. At this stage you should consider where the most appropriate place for you to be is during the hearing. You should ensure you are in a quiet room where you will not be disturbed and preferably where there is a convenient landline. If you are at home you should ensure TVs, radios, other phones etc. near you are turned off. If you are in work you should arrange to conduct the hearing in a place where you will not be called away. If there is too much background noise the Adjudicator may have to terminate the call. Finally you should supply the number you wish to be contacted to the Tribunal as soon as possible.
What happens during a TCC?
Approximately five minutes before the hearing the Tribunal Manager will phone to confirm that you are ready to proceed. You should ensure that you have the evidence pack supplied byTransportNI to hand. At the time of your hearing the Tribunal Manager will phone you again. The TransportNI representative will also be contacted. Once the conference call is ready the Adjudicator will come to the phone and your hearing will commence. You should listen carefully to what the Adjudicator tells you and be guided by them as to the running of the hearing. Please note all parties to the proceedings will be able to hear what is being said throughout.
What happens after my hearing?
The Adjudicator will normally give you the result of your appeal over the phone but you will receive a written decision with a statement of reasons a few days after your hearing. If you feel the Adjudicator has made a material error in the decision or new evidence comes to light after the hearing, you have 14 days from the date of the written decision to ask the Tribunal for a review. More information on the review procedure can be obtained on this website.
What happens next?
The Adjudicator should make his/her decision immediately, but you will receive a written Notice of Decision even if you attended at court. If the appeal is upheld, TransportNI will be notified to withdraw the PCN (or refund your clamping fees etc as per the Adjudicator’s decision). If the appeal is refused, you have 28 days from the date of the Adjudicator’s written decision to pay the penalty to the Roads Service;
Under certain circumstances you can ask the Adjudicator to review his decision within 14 days of the decision, where:
- the decision was wrongly made as a result of an error on the part of his administrative staff;
- a party who had failed to appear or be represented at a hearing had good and sufficient reason for his failure to appear;
- the decision was made after a hearing, new evidence has become available since the conclusion of the hearing, the existence of which could not have been reasonably known or foreseen;
- the decision was made without a hearing, new evidence has become available since the conclusion of the hearing, the existence of which could not have been reasonably known or foreseen; or
- the interests of justice require a review.
Please contact the office to obtain more information on this matter.
Please note that if you fail to pay the penalty charge within 28 days from the Notice of Decision, TransportNI will issue you with a Charge Certificate that will increase the penalty charge by a further 50%. You have a further 14 days to pay the increased charge. Further failure to pay will result in TransportNI proceeding to have the debt registered as a judgment against you.
Please do not send any money to the tribunal.
What is a Statutory Declaration?
A Statutory Declaration is “a declaration that someone makes on oath according to statute” – The Encarta Dictionary.
The Statutory Declaration, as it applies to TPT, is a sworn statement made by the vehicle owner AND WITNESSED BY A DESIGNATED COURT OFFICIAL (set out below), declaring that one of the three important documents was never received. (This process cannot be used to appeal against a PCN).
If a PCN remains unpaid, the final stage of the Roads Service’s PCN enforcement process is to issue a Notice of Enforcement of Charge Certificate and a Statutory Declaration. This Notice states that TransportNI shall lodge the debt in the Enforcement of Judgements Office. The Statutory Declaration can only be used by the vehicle owner at this stage under three grounds.
1. If a "Notice to Owner” was never received.
If a successful Statutory Declaration is made on this ground, the Roads Service is obliged to set the penalty charge back and to reissue a Notice to Owner.
2. If a "Notice of Rejection” was never received.
If a successful Statutory Declaration is made on this ground, Roads Service is obliged to reissue the Notice of Rejection of Representations.
3. If you never received your "Notice of Decision" from TPT.
If a successful Statutory Declaration is made on this ground, TPT is obliged to reissue the Notice of Decision and allow you 28 days from its issue to pay the penalty.
A Statutory Declaration must be witnessed by one of the following:
- Justice of the Peace;
- Commissioner for Oaths;
- notary public; or
- Resident Magistrate/Lay Magistrate.
A list of your nearest Justices of the Peace etc can be obtained from the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service by calling: 0300 200 7812.
The Grounds on which you can appeal
It is important to be aware that you can only appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal if your reason for appealing is covered by the grounds set out below.
The only grounds on which you can appeal are as follows:
1. You never were the owner of the vehicle in question
2. You had ceased to be its owner before the date on which the alleged incident took place.
3. You became its owner after that date.
4. The alleged incident did not take place.
5. At the time of the alleged incident the vehicle was in control of a person or persons without your consent.
6. It would be unreasonable to regard you as responsible for the alleged incident because the vehicle had previously been in the control of a person or persons without your consent.
7. The recipient of the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) is a vehicle–hire firm who had a hiring agreement whereby the person hiring the vehicle had accepted in writing, liability in respect of any PCN received during the term of the agreement.
8. The penalty charge exceeded the amount relevant to the circumstances of the case.
9. The Roads Service issued you with “A Notice to Owner” mistakenly believing that the traffic attendant was prevented from issuing a Parking Charge Notice.
10. The alleged incident has become the subject of criminal proceedings.
Previous Adjudicators' Decisions.
All appeals accepted by NITPT are dealt with by the Adjudicators on the specific circumstances relating to the issue of the particular PCN. However, in order to assist a prospective appellant in deciding whether to appeal, NITPT has posted a number of previous adjudicators’ decisions below. These cases cover some of the more common reasons for appeal and are meant as guidelines only; unless they specifically clarify a point of law. Please note that these decisions relate to actual NITPT appeals, though names etc have been removed to protect the appellants’ identities.
- Late receipt of discounted payment by Roads Service. (REFUSED)
- Parking in a Parking zone with restricted waiting periods. (GRANTED)
- Parked outside bay - Markings in a car park. (REFUSED)
- Loading and unloading restrictions (GRANTED)
- Failure to Display Pay and Display Ticket (REFUSED)
- Vehicle owner not driving car when PCN issued (REFUSED)
- Loading/unloading a private vehicle (GRANTED)
- Concealed signage (REFUSED)
- Faulty Pay and Display Machine (REFUSED)
- Hire agreement car (REFUSED)
- Contravening Bus Lane Regulations (REFUSED)
Late receipt of discounted payment by Roads Service. (REFUSED)
The appellant is not disputing the issue of the ticket, but advised Roads Service that he had sent a cheque for £30.00 as payment.
By representations dated 25th January 2008 the appellant stated that he had written a cheque on 15th December 2007 and that he had retained the cheque stub but the cheque had not been cashed. By a Notice of Rejection of Representations issued on 20th February 2008 the appellant was advised that the outstanding charge was £60.00 as no payment had been received.
By representations dated 26th February 2008 the appellant forwarded a cheque for £30.00 and enclosed a photocopy of the cheque stub showing the date and payee. The appellant contacted the Roads Service by telephone on 11th March 2008 and was advised that the original £30.00 cheque was not received and that Roads Service was not responsible for delivery failures, he spoke to a supervisor and expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision.
As there are an increasing number of appeals coming before the Adjudicators in respect of late payment due to postal delays or postal failures I have set out the relevant law as follows;
Article 5(3)(d) of The Traffic Management (NI) Order 2005 provides that a discounted rate is available when the penalty charge is paid within the fourteen day period from the issue of the PCN.
The fact that the Order requires the penalty charge to be “paid” within the fourteen day period means that the payments must have actually been received by the Roads Service as paid is the past tense of “to pay”, it is not sufficient for the payment to have been forwarded within the fourteen day period.
Whilst it is clear that the Appellant did forward the payment as claimed there is no discretion under the legislation to extend the payment period in these circumstances. Posting a payment such as a cheque or postal order does not in my view come within the definition of “paid” within the legislation i.e. Article 2(4).
“(4) In determining for the purposes of any provision of this Order whether a penalty charge or other amount has been paid before the end of a particular period, it shall be taken to have been paid when it is received by the Department(Roads Service).”
The fact that the payment has to be “received” within fourteen days is also set out on the reverse of the PCN issued by the Roads Service under the heading “How to Pay” where it states that payment must be received within fourteen days of the date of issue. It also sets out the method of payment which includes by telephone using a credit card or by means of the internet. If appellants wish to take advantage of the discounted rate they may be better advised to use either of these faster methods of payment when payment is automatically confirmed at the time of the transaction.
I entirely accept that the appellant has genuinely attempted to pay within the fourteen day time period, Roads Service have not exercised their discretion to accept late payment and I do not have any discretion to exercise under the legislation. The appeal therefore is unfortunately refused. The appellant is therefore liable to pay the outstanding balance of £30.00.
Parking in a Parking zone with restricted waiting periods. (GRANTED)
A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was issued on the grounds that it was “re parked in the same parking place within one hour or other specified time of leaving”.
The appellant has appealed in the following terms:
“I parked my car from 1.50pm to 2.20pm. I then left. I returned at 3pm and parked my car there from 3pm until 3.20pm. The second time I parked at a different place. My understanding of the parking regulations for that area is that the public are allowed to park on the street for one hour in any two hour period. My total time spent was 50 minutes. I therefore feel that I have been wrongly issued with a parking ticket in this matter”.
The Roads Service are not disputing that the car was moved and parked in a different place – the evidence also confirms this as the Traffic Attendant has noted in his pocket book, two different tyre valve positions, which indicates that the vehicle has moved. The appellant’s evidence is credible and consistent (and not in dispute). I find as fact that the events occurred as claimed.
For the reasons set out below, the appeal succeeds on a number of levels:
The Roads Service has provided a copy of the relevant sign which is as follows “Mon-Sat 8.30am- 6.15pm Waiting Limited to 60 minutes in any 2 hours”. There is no evidence before me that the area was adequately (if at all) signed with the instruction that there was no return within one hour. As I am not satisfied that the Roads Service has demonstrated that the area was adequately signed, no contravention could occur and the appeal must succeed.
Alternatively, although the Roads Service has not provided the relevant legislation that provides for the particular parking provisions, the photograph of the sign provided is ambiguous, even if there were adequate signs (which I have found there is no evidence of) of the no return within one hour provision. I am satisfied that any reasonable person would interpret that sign as allowing any aggregate parking of 60 minutes (however accrued). Given this particular sign, the “no return within 1 hour” provision could reasonably be interpreted as meaning after an individual has utilised the 60 minutes available (whether that be all at once or during several different parking “slots”). The Appellant did not park for more than 60 minutes in total in “any 2 hour period”, the Roads Service has not established that any contravention occurred and the appeal must succeed.
In any event, I find that given the legislation that the Roads Service is seeking to rely on, the above paragraph is academic (save perhaps for an individual who has parked in exactly the same place as before, which is not the case in this appeal). This is because Roads Service is seeking to rely on Article 9 of the On Street Parking Order (Northern Ireland) 2000, which states that:
“Until the expiration of one hour from the time a vehicle is removed from a parking space a person shall not cause or permit that vehicle to be left again in that space.”
What is particularly relevant in this case is the definition of “parking space” given at Article 1 of the same Order: “parking space” means a space which is marked out in a parking place for the leaving of a vehicle.
For the avoidance of doubt, the same Order also defines “parking place”: means the road or parts of a road within a controlled parking zone designated as parking places under Article 5.
Therefore I find that although the Appellant had returned to the same “parking place”, she was in a different “parking space”. Article 9 of the Order only prohibits the return to the same parking space. Therefore no contravention occurred.
Parked outside bay-markings in a car park. (REFUSED)
A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was issued on a vehicle not wholly within the markings of the bay/space a car park, in Belfast. The appellant explained that the vehicle was parked within the car park in a suitable location and that it did not block anyone.
The Roads Service case summary states that the appellant confirmed the car was parked outside one of the bays. The Roads Service stated that the regulations are enforced on the grounds of safety, allowing the passage of emerging vehicles and preventing inconvenience to other users of the car park.
The Roads Service has also submitted a number of photographs of the vehicle taken by the Traffic Attendant together with subsequent photographs of the car park with an arrow marking the position in which the vehicle was parked. The photographs also show the sign showing the car park name, to which is clearly attached a further smaller sign entitled “Off Street Parking Order”.
Article 5 of the relevant order of that Order states that “the driver of a vehicle shall not permit it to wait in a parking place other than in a position wholly within a parking bay where such has been marked out.” The photographs before me show other marked bays in the car park in question. The appellant has accepted that she was not parked in a bay. I find as fact that the contravention did occur.
Article 13 and Article 9 (2) of the Traffic Management (NI) Order 2005 only permit appeals to be allowed on limited grounds. In this case, as I am satisfied the contravention did occur, the appeal must fail.
Loading and unloading restrictions. (GRANTED)
I gave my decision following an oral hearing. In summary, the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was issued to a van, on 5th June 2007 at 14.35 as the vehicle was parked in a restricted street on a single yellow line. The company asserts that the van was there for loading and unloading which it further stated was continuous and visible. The Traffic Attendant (TA) who issued the PCN issued the ticket after a seven minute observation.
At the hearing the appellant gave evidence which I found to be credible and consistent and he explained the company’s procedures for loading and unloading. He explained that the company’s wares were stored upstairs from the loading bay. The loading bay area was not large enough for all the parts to be moved there before loading commenced. He further asserted that there had been previous thefts and for security reasons the shutter, although normally open during the process, might have to be closed if there was a delay; if for example only one, rather than two, delivery workers were available and/or if a mistake was made and something had to be returned to the warehouse upstairs. He also referred to the photographs provided by the company and indicated the company car park at the end of the road where the vehicle was normally parked and asserted that the only reason a van would ever be parked in the restricted area was during the loading process. The loading process normally takes 15-20 minutes from start to finish. He asserted that although he did not know the precise facts there had been a delay on the day in question. However, he could not account for why the delivery men had not seen the TA. I find as fact on all the evidence that the company was loading and unloading as claimed.
The Roads Service confirmed that the relevant legislation relied on was the Roads (Restriction of Waiting) Order (Northern Ireland) 1982, Article 3 and asserted that the Roads Service had relied on the letter from the company which stated that “the van was left unattended while the next order was being prepared”, which RS contended did not come within the terms of loading and loading. Whilst I accept that “preparing orders” would not normally come within the definition of loading, I am satisfied, on the basis of the evidence given, that what in fact occurred was a continuous and generally visible process.
I find that the contravention did not occur as, although I accept that the vehicle was parked in a restricted street, I find that this comes within the exception under Article 4 of the above Order which states that parking (which would otherwise be in contravention of Article 3 above) is not unlawful when parked for “so long as may be necessary to enable” loading or unloading. The Appeal was granted.
Failure to display Pay & Display ticket. (REFUSED)
A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was issued as the Traffic Attendant (TA) observed the vehicle parked in a pay and display car park without “clearly displaying a valid pay and display ticket. Photographs taken by the TA have been enclosed by Roads Service, showing the vehicle with a pay and display ticket face down on the dashboard, and therefore it is not possible to see the time period on the ticket. The relevant legislation requires that a ticket is displayed “so that the particulars recorded on the front of the ticket are clearly visible to a person standing at the front of the vehicle”.
I have considered all the material and I am satisfied that the appellant’s written representations are consistent and credible. I find as fact therefore that the appellant bought a ticket as claimed but inadvertently displayed it incorrectly.
Unfortunately, under the terms of the Traffic Management (Northern Ireland) Order 2005, an appeal can only be allowed on limited grounds. As I accept that the ticket (although correctly purchased) was not properly displayed, I am satisfied that the contravention occurred and that the PCN was correctly issued. The appeal must therefore fail.
Vehicle owner not driving car when PCN issued. (REFUSED)
The appellant is the registered keeper of vehicle. She does not dispute that the contravention took place or that the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was properly issued. However, the appeal is that at the time of the contravention a friend had borrowed the car.
The Traffic Management (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 sets out the grounds on which an appellant may appeal to an adjudicator. These include that the recipient was not the owner or the vehicle in question, or that that the vehicle was at the time of the contravention “in the control of a person without the consent of the owner”. That the appellant had lent the car to someone else is not a valid ground of appeal.
I am satisfied on all the evidence that the appellant was the owner of the vehicle at the time of issue of the PCN. I also find as fact that the vehicle was not taken without consent, as the appellant admits that it was borrowed by an acquaintance and has been trying to “get the person who was driving the car to pay the penalty”.
The appellant is therefore liable to pay the PCN and the appeal must fail. Whilst I accept that the appellant was not driving, that is a private matter for the appellant to resolve with the driver.
Loading / unloading a private vehicle. (GRANTED)
The appellant was issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). The car was parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours. The appellant contends that “on the day in question the car was parked in a pick-up point to lift my groceries and when I returned, I had a ticket. My car was legally parked in this pick-up point and in no way was I causing an obstruction, or doing anything illegal.”
I find as fact that he was parked on double yellow lines as shown in the photographs accompanying this case. Roads Service states that the car was observed for 6 minutes and there was no evidence of loading. The copy of Parking Attendant’s on street log records show the vehicle being observed from 15:58 until 16:04 when the PCN was issued. The relevant legislation, the Roads (Restriction of Waiting) Order (NI) 1982, Article 3 and the On-Street Parking Order (NI) 2000, Article 2 provides for exemptions to the restrictions (in Article 4 and Article 3 of the respective orders) including for the purpose of loading/unloading goods. This exemption allows waiting for “so long as may be reasonably necessary” for the purposes of loading. I find loading of groceries falls within this exemption.
I am not satisfied on balance that Roads Service has demonstrated why a period of 6 minutes exceeds what is “reasonably necessary”. I therefore find that the parking contravention did not occur and I allow the appeal.
Concealed signage. (REFUSED)
I find the following facts:
1.PCN was issued and the appellant was at the relevant time the owner of the car.
2.The car was parked opposite the flow of traffic on the city bound side of a clearway within a prohibited period.
3.One clearway sign, behind where the car was parked when the PCN was issued was obscured by foliage at the relevant time.
4.Other clearway signs were not alleged to be obscured and were visible on the country bound side of the road some distance in front and to the left of where the car was parked.
The issue to be determined is whether or not the relevant signage was adequate to warn the Appellant that he was parking in clearway. The appellant contends that it was not; as a clearway sign close to where the vehicle was parked was obscured by summer foliage.
The English Adjudicators in MK 329 (reported in the 2004 Joint Report) have commented on this type of case. I would adopt their conclusions:
“Signage, even if it is in pristine condition, must also be visible. In this case a problem arose because signage placed near to a tree became obscured by foliage during the summer months. The sign in question was in good condition and may well have been perfectly visible in winter. However, it was found to have been insufficiently visible during August when the trees were in full leaf to alert the Appellant, a stranger to the area, to the presence of a restriction.”
In this case the Appellant was not a stranger to the area- his girlfriend lived there and he was able to give evidence of where he could have parked lawfully. I find it relevant that the obscured sign was behind him and that at least one visible sign was in front of him. Had there been no visible signs and had the appellant been new to the area my decision would have been different.
As it is I refuse the appeal.
Faulty Pay & Display machine. (REFUSED)
At the appellant’s request I considered this appeal on the papers. A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was issued to a vehicle as it was parked without clearly displaying a valid pay and display ticket.
The appellant asserts that the ticket machine at James Street was faulty and that they had no time to search for another machine and had called Roads Service at 11.07am to explain.
Although the Roads Service makes no comment in relation to machines in James Street South, Roads Service asserts that the two machines in Brunswick Street (where the vehicle was parked) were working. In support of this, the Roads Service refers to a highlighted section of the Traffic Attendant’s (TA’s) pocket book, which states that “m/c No 48 working” and “m/c no 47 working”. Roads Service also provides a print out with the heading “Log by machine All Events”. At 7am both machines are listed as “system machine ok”. On the basis of this evidence and the pocket book evidence of the TA I am satisfied that the two machines in Brunswick Street were working.
There is insufficient evidence to ascertain whether any machines in James Street South were working at the relevant time. However, even if I accept that a machine in James Street South was not working, I am satisfied that there were sufficient working machines in the vicinity. I find that the contravention occurred and the appeal must therefore fail. The appeal is refused.
Hire Agreement Car. (REFUSED)
The appellant does not dispute the circumstances of the PCN being issued but states by letter that the vehicle was hired under a hire agreement. Roads Service responded by letter stating that the appellant had failed to provide the statement of liability or hire agreement signed by the hirer. This information is required by Article 10(4) of The Traffic Management (NI) Order 2005 (“The 2005 Order”) if the ground of appeal under Article 9(2) (d) is to be relied on, namely that the vehicle was hired under a hire agreement.
Article 2 of The 2005 Order states that “hire agreement” is as defined in Article 71(8) of the Road Traffic Offenders (NI) Order 1996 which refers only to agreements as may be prescribed and the fact that the hirer is a vehicle-hire firm.
No statement of liability or hire agreement was provided by the hirer and therefore a formal notice of rejection was issued by Roads Service. By notice of appeal the appellant re-iterated that the vehicle was hired to the named individual but again failed to provide a copy of the hire agreement or statement of liability. As the appellant has not responded it is not possible to ascertain the type of hiring agreement and as no statement of liability has been forwarded it is not possible to establish if the person named as having hired the vehicle has accepted responsibility for PCN’s being issued.
Whilst the hire agreement started prior to the commencement of the 2005 Order which came into force on 30th October 2006 by virtue of Article 2 of The Traffic Management (205 Order) (Commencement) Order (Northern Ireland) 2006 the need for a statement of liability in respect of parking offences relating to hired vehicles under the previous parking penalty system was also a requirement as set out in Article 71 of the Road Traffic Offenders (NI) Order 1996. I also consider that as the 2005 Order was in place for nearly a year by the time of the offence that the appellant has had ample time to amend its hiring agreements with its customers.
As the appellant has failed to provide the necessary documentation to establish the ground under Article 9(2) (d) of the 2005 Order as required by Article 10(4) I have no alternative but to refuse the appeal.
Contravening Bus Lane Regulations. (REFUSED)
Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) was issued on the grounds that the appellant’s vehicle was detected contravening bus lane regulations in Donegall Square East, Belfast. The alleged contravention was detected by the use of fixed CCTV cameras which recorded both static and video images.
The appellant makes the case that they consider the area to be inadequately signed, in particular that no adequate notice is provided to motorists approaching the relevant area in Donegall Square East. The appellant contends that it was due to the inadequate notice that caused them to find themselves driving in the relevant bus lane and they were consequently unable to leave the said bus lane safely before being detected by the CCTV cameras in contravention of the Bus Lanes (Belfast City Centre) Order (NI) 2012.
The appellant made written and oral submissions in particular drawing the Tribunal’s attention to the contents of the Traffic Signs Manual, in respect of the requirement of the notice provided of signage indicating that a bus lane commences in a certain area.
Further, the appellant refers this Tribunal to an Adjudicator’s decision where a PCN was issued for the contravention of similar bus lane regulations in England, the Adjudicator allowed the appeal against the said respondent’s decision to issue a PCN for 2 reasons: that the driver was not gaining any advantage by entering the bus lane in the manner alleged; and, that they did not feel that minor infringements are to be treated as contraventions subject to enforcement.
The Respondent submitted that the first sign indicating the existence and commencement of the bus lane was on the corner of Donegall Square East and Chichester Street, immediately on the right hand side of the road as motorists begin to drive down Donegall Square East. This sign is blue in colour with white writing and a white border. The Respondent submitted in evidence an additional photograph showing an additional sign indicating the existence of the bus lane and its hours of enforcement situated on the traffic island on the left hand side of Donegall Square East. This sign is situated immediately on the left, as you begin to drive along Donegall Square East, after turning on to this road. This sign is yellow in colour with black writing and a black border. In addition to these signs, the bus lane is clearly delineated on the road and marked with white words on the red coloured tarmac stating “BUS LANE”.
The Respondent’s case was that the area was appropriately signed and lined, as per the relevant regulations, and the Respondent had taken the additional steps of ensuring the carriageway was coloured red to indicate the area of the said carriageway to which the bus lane applied and the additional yellow sign on the left hand side of the road.
In addition to the aforementioned signage, the Respondent stated that there is now an additional temporary illuminated flashing sign indicating the existence of the said bus lane, however this was not in situ on the date of the alleged contravention by the appellant.
I find that the Respondent has placed the necessary sign and all additional signage in the only possible locations available. Furthermore, I find that any motorist using this area of road is given adequate notice of the bus lane regulations in Donegall Square East. I am cognisant of the guidance provided by chapter 3 of the Traffic Signs Manual, but I stress that the purpose of this manual is for advice and guidance only.
Although I am not bound by Adjudicator’s decisions in other jurisdictions, they are regularly very helpful guidance on similar issues facing this Tribunal. In considering the said decision, I note the Adjudicator’s comment that each appeal should be considered on its own facts and circumstances. I agree with this conclusion of the Adjudicator but I do not accept the proposition that the de minimus principle should apply to considering whether or not the entry into a bus lane should be a contravention worthy of a PCN. I accept that the appellant did not gain any advantage in entering the bus lane, nor were they a regular visitor to Belfast City Centre. However, the onus rests with all road users to familiarise themselves with the regulations that apply to their route of travel.
I find that the appellant in this appeal breached the relevant bus lane contraventions when they entered the bus lane on Donegall Square East.
Accordingly, the appeal is refused.
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