View Full Version : Fighting a driving penalty

9th Apr 2005, 18:38

I was hoping someone could give me some advice regarding a driving penalty.

I was driving in Islington, and I was coming up to some road works which force you into the bus lane ahead. I entered the bus lane early and have been given a ‘Vehicle seen contravening bus lane regulation’ penalty of £50 if I pay within 14 days or £100.00 after.

Due to the road works people were confused as to which lane to be in, I was following the car ahead, and the opposite traffic was in the lane I should have been in.

More to the point the photo showing the ‘offence’ shows a car in the lane I should have been in going in the opposite direction! There is no clear information on how to contest the fine, just how to pay. Any ideas as to how to fight this? The letter is from Islington council. I just don’t want it to drag out to the 14 days and then become £100!

I will try and scan the photo tommorow so you can see it.

Many thanks.

9th Apr 2005, 18:44
Initially go to the council, show them the picture and point out the fact that due to the roadworks, you were forced to move into the bus lane, due to oncoming traffic being moved into your lane. They should have a record of the fact that the roadworks were in existence at the time and should drop the case, if they insist you pay, then seek legal advice.
You have every right to your day in court and should it come to that you will probably get off.

I remember (in my days as a Police Constable), giving a guy a ticket for running a red light, both me and my partner witnessed the offence, he took it to court, defended himself, when asked if he thought we were lying, he said no, just mistaken, that was enough to give the magistrate reasonable doubt and he got off.

I would contest this one with the council initially and take it from there.

16 blades
9th Apr 2005, 22:46
Seconded - don't under any circumstances take this lying down. Both local authoriteis and the Police will issue tickets for 'offences' that would fall flat in court, in the full knowledge that the vast majority of people would not challenge them.


Bern Oulli
10th Apr 2005, 08:54
1. Approach the council people as above. If anyone has the ability to make a decision (hah!), it should stop right there if the photo shows the dilemma. If this fails then:

2. Seek legal advice. Most solicitors will give you half an hour for free.

3. Subject to (2), go to court and plead "Not Guilty". This will mean a trial so don't expect it all to be over on the first appearance. If you go this far then definitely engage a solicitor.

Magistrates are (despite some theories) quite impartial and will have no hesitation in throwing out a case that has no merit, usually accompanied with some pithy comments directed at the proscecuting authority, together with an award against them for the costs.
Let us know the outcome.

Morgan James
10th Apr 2005, 09:32
Lots of people will automatically assume there's no point in having a go where authority is concerned but if you feel you have a good case to argue then you should definitely look into it and at least seek legal advice. The first consultation is often free these days and you should get a fair indication of where you stand, then just take it from there.

10th Apr 2005, 18:03

Take issue with it, in writing (and recorded delivery) before the 14 days.

It's probably all computer generated, and if there is a car in the place you would have been, then you must have been in the bus lane to avoid an accident. Something which is perfectly reasonable to do. Once the photo is looked at by a human it should be apparent, and you may well find the entire thing is binned.

Keep a copy of the letter in case it does go further and of course the photo they sent you.

10th Apr 2005, 19:49
On a similar vein, I was stopped at around 0545 one Sunday and "told" I had been speeding. This was down a country road with not another vehicle in sight. Actually I was not speeding on this occasion and when informed that I was to be issued a fixed penalty I asked to see:
1) the vehicle calibration certificate
2) the warrant card of the female officer who was doing all the "threats"
3) the warrant card of the other officer.
I also suggested that they may wish to volunteer the division to which they belong and the name of their watch commander.
GUESS WHAT? They decided to withdraw hastily. Any one know why?


10th Apr 2005, 20:15
It is quite possible that they were trying to achieve their individual 'performance targets'.

As part of Bliar's dictatorship, Police Forces have been given 'targets' to achieve. In turn the Chief Constables set their own individual force targets which their Officers have to achieve or be marked down as poor performers, with the clear and practised threat of disciplinary action.

It is such a shame that these 'targets' do not seem to include, reducing violent crime, prosecuting those who steal, mug, rape. They don't seem to require the Police to actually prosecute the actual wrongdoers instead of the innocent as a quick fix. How nice it would be if they rewarded a drop in crime?. Maybe some day they will include targets for drunken driving, driving without tax and insurance, due care and attention, etc, etc.

Unfortunately many things appear to have militated against you, viz:-

Firstly you were on your own;

Secondly I presume that you drive a relatively recent car, or at least one in such a condition as to suggest that you are broadly middle class;

Thirdly, they thus saw you as an 'easy option', who being of a better class than the average scrote, would feel somewhat intimidated by them and therefore less likely to put up any resistance;

Fourthly they gambled on your potential acquiesence;

Fifthly they were obviously out to make up their personal performance targets;

Sixthly they have probably been brainwashed by the road safety mantra that speed kills;

Seventhly, Bliar needs to raise revenue in order to balance the books as he cannot raise taxes until AFTER the next election - assuming of course he wins.

I think you were extremely lucky in the circumstances.

I speak as one who was given a fixed penalty notice on the basis that 'there are two of us who will swear in Court' and pointing out that I 'could take a chance by going to Court however you need to consider that it will be your word against ours' and of course the inevitable threat that all costs would be levelled against me !

Nil nos tremefacit
10th Apr 2005, 20:59
Don't forget the advice you might get from the Citizen's Advice Bureau. Neutral and free.

10th Apr 2005, 22:43
There is a lot of confused thinking here. All of the stuff about the police is entirely irrelevant because the OP says that the notice is from Islington Council.

That means that rants about speed kills, and even Tony Blair (How did he get in here?) have nothing, repeat nothing to do with it.

Any appeal will be to an adjudicator appointed by the council. and will be limited to a few possible lines or argument. Here's the official line (for London, but most places are the same):-


These are the ONLY grounds on which you may appeal against a bus lane PCN.

I was not the owner at the relevant time
e.g. The vehicle was sold before (or bought after) the contravention occurred. Note: under the London Local Authorities Act 1996 the owner, not the driver, is liable for a penalty charge.

There was no breach of the bus lane order/regulation
e.g. The vehicle was not in a bus lane during its hours of operation or the bus lane restrictions were not properly signed.

The person who was in control of the vehicle at the time was in control of it without my consent
e.g. The vehicle was driven in the bus lane after being stolen.

The police are already taking action
Instead of the Council or TfL imposing a civil penalty under their powers, the police can take criminal action against the driver at the time of the alleged breach. This ground applies if the driver of the vehicle has received a Fixed Penalty Notice or a Notice of Intended Prosecution for the same breach.

10th Apr 2005, 23:09
Surely then this paragraph There was no breach of the bus lane order/regulation
e.g. The vehicle was not in a bus lane during its hours of operation or the bus lane restrictions were not properly signed. is relevant as the bus lane restrictions must of been suspended at the time?

11th Apr 2005, 00:50
From your limited description of the setting, I deduce that the bus lane was the only part of the road open to traffic travelling in your direction because of the road works.

If this was the case, then either:

a) The bus lane regulations had to have been suspended allowing other traffic to use the bus lane to pass the road works, or

b) The bus lane regulations remained in force, which meant that the road had to be closed to non-bus traffic.

In either event, there must have been statutary notices in local papers, as well as temporary signs on the roadside advising one state or the other.

If no such notices existed, then the council have failed in it's regulatory or statutary duties and have therefore broken the law.

bjcc is probably correct in that the whole process hasn't seen a human brain - once you go to the relevant council office, explain the circumstances and request that the charge be dropped, in all probability someone will say 'oops, sorry!' If you encounter jobsworth, then take it to court, but with a solicitor [and don't forget to ask for costs, including an element for your time and administration - phone calls, letters (@ £75 per letter), etc].

Good luck, and let us know how you get on.


11th Apr 2005, 07:15
Thanks everyone, I will keep you informed as to how it is proceeding.

I will take issue (politely) in writing, and take it from there.

Many thanks for the advice.

11th Apr 2005, 07:21
FJJP - the point about council penalties like this one is that there is no option of a court appearance, only an appeal to a lawyer employed as an independent adjudicator. His decision is final.

From what the OP says, a bench of magistrates would either acquit or impose an absolute discharge. With justice-lite he may not be so lucky.

11th Apr 2005, 07:48
You have to use the adjudication service here (http://www.parking-appeals.gov.uk/welcomeEN.asp), your only option after that is the High Court. Bus and vehicle lanes are included in their jurisdiction, follow the link here (http://www.parking-appeals.gov.uk/RegAndLeg/PCNconCodes.asp) to and see number 34.

Stage 1 – Objecting to the local council

If you want, you can contact the council immediately after you receive the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). You should aim to do this within 14 days of receiving the PCN if you want to preserve the right to pay at the discount rate. You will normally be asked to put your point in writing. State your case clearly and simply. If you have evidence to support your claims such as receipts or witness statements, send these in. (We recommend that you always send copies only and hold on to the originals). The council will write back, either accepting or rejecting your challenge. If you have written within 14 days of receiving the PCN and the council reject your challenge, you should be offered the chance to pay at the discounted rate.

Stage 2 – Formal Representations to the local council

If the council rejects your informal challenge and you don’t pay the charge, the council will send a Notice to Owner to the person or company they believe to be the owner of the vehicle. By now, the full penalty charge will be payable. This notice goes to the person believed to be the owner of the car, because under the Road Traffic Act 1991 it is the owner of the vehicle who is liable for any Penalty Charge Notices issued to it, irrespective of who the driver was. This is known as owner liability.

If you receive a Notice to Owner, you can use the form to make formal representations to the council. The Notice to Owner form itself details the legal grounds on which a formal representation may be made. You must make your representations within 28 days of receiving the form. Again, state your case clearly and simply. If you have evidence to support your claims, such as receipts or witness statements, send them in. (We recommend that you always send copies only and hold on to the originals).

If you don’t think you meet one of the legal grounds for making a representation, you may still state your case, since the council may exercise its discretion and cancel the PCN. If the council waives the Penalty Charge Notice, you will receive a letter informing you of this. If they decide that the PCN should not be waived, you will be sent a letter explaining why. This is called a Notice of Rejection of Representations. With this letter, you should receive a form called a Notice of Appeal, allowing you to appeal to the independent Parking Adjudicator.

Stage 3 – Appealing to the Independent Parking Adjudicator

You may only appeal to the independent Parking Adjudicator if you have first used the ‘Notice to Owner’ form to make representations to the council that issued the PCN and have received their ‘Notice of Rejection of Representations.

11th Apr 2005, 08:11
Try writing to the council with your reasons and you may get away with it. I say may because don't expect to get a lot of sympathy from them. They are not the most highly paid individuals and the bit of power from saying no is the only power they get in their miserable lives.

If you don't get any joy from that route then pay up. I know its not right but the time and money you will spend is not worth the cost of the fine, a fact that they know only too well.

Of course you can always write to your MP. Its election time and they need all the votes they can get.....

11th Apr 2005, 09:31
Try www.pepipoo.com (http://www.pepipoo.com) and search on "Bill of Rights"

There is growing opinion, following a High Court judgement that defines 'constitutional' law and 'other' law, that a constitutional law cannot be implied repealed. The actual case related to the 'Metric Martyrs', but set a legal precedent.

Normally, latter legislation 'impliedly' repeals earlier. However, the Bill of Rights is constitutional law and cannot be repealed in this manner.

The Bill of Rights states that no fines, forfeitures etc. may take place without due court process. The Road Traffic Act that allows imposition of bus lane and parking fines does not specifically refer to the Bill of Rights and cannot impliedly repeal it. It follows therefore, that any such fine is, in fact, illegal.

BTW, these matters will go before a court once the council decides to get baliffs involved in collection of the fine.

Nil nos tremefacit
11th Apr 2005, 09:56
The Bill of Rights thing is yet to be properly challenged in court. I think somebody called de Crittenden is trying to do it. There was an article about it in the Sunday Telegraph a few months ago.

The Government needed an excuse to defeat the Metric Martyrs so the judge tinkered with precedent so that the Weights and Measures legislation passed after we joined the European Community could be rendered null and void. If the judge did not invent this fiction then the Metric Martyrs would have won their case against Sunderland Trading Standards Officers (may they rot in hell) and it would have been legal to sell a pound and a half of bananas. The effect would have been that Luddites like me would have been able to order a quarter of jelly babies and expect to have a quarter served (instead of the near 'equivalent' of 100 grammes). This is unacceptable to the Europhile Blairistas who want to ban me using miles and pints in the near future.

My heart kilogrammes with the idea of it all.

11th Apr 2005, 10:09
I suspect that Islington Council will drop the fine when they see the facts from the photo.

Some time ago my son sold a car and forgot to send off the notification of change of ownership. All he had from the new owner was a mobile phone number.

The new owner took full advantage of this by parking anywhere he liked for the next few weeks. My son received fines totalling over £600 from various local authorities in the area.

As he had just gone to BRNC, I dealt with this and all of the councils adopted a very common sense approach and dropped the fines when he could prove that he had cancelled his insurance on the day he sold the car. I don't know if they pursued the new owner for the money.

Paranoid Parrot
11th Apr 2005, 11:00
What I don't understand is why the fine was sent out in the first place. Of course you can always blame a computer for not understanding that the bus lane was being used because of roadworks, but isn't it up to humans to monitor the computers?

Why do people who have been given such a fine have to do the chasing up?

Why can't it be part of the procedure of doing roadworks in the vicinity of bus lanes, etc. to ensure that the bus lane camera is disconnected for the duration of the roadworks?

Why can't it be the construction company or the council who are fined for not doing so because they are inconveniencing the public with invalid fines? In other words why can't the attitude be that the council and the construction company are doing a service for the public who are paying their wages through our taxes?

Flap 5
14th Apr 2005, 10:20
Putting it to the top as it disappeared rapidly off the page. Maybe too soon for Tom to have an answer though.:hmm:

Big Tudor
14th Apr 2005, 10:37
Paranoid Parrot,

Unfortunately it would seem that if you have a traffic offence levelled at you in the UK it is a case of Guilty till you can prove otherwise.

14th Apr 2005, 11:36
Well, apparently the "Parking Support Services Manager" is considering a response to my complaint.

I asked my brother, whom I was visiting in London, to go take some pictures of the road works; alas they were gone.

Again thanks to everyone for the responses. I am at ORAC stage 1!

14th Apr 2005, 13:33
"Parking Support Services Manager" now there's a job title! One could read that a couple of ways, is it the "Parking Support" Services Manager; the Parking "Support Services" Manager; the "Parking Support Services" Manager; or the "Lazy Bastard With Nothing to do All Day Except Drink Tea, Read the Paper and Ignore Complaints" Manager.:E


Paranoid Parrot
14th Apr 2005, 17:36
Unfortunately it would seem that if you have a traffic offence levelled at you in the UK it is a case of Guilty till you can prove otherwise.

I believe my point was questioning that very attitude that the authorities have. It is an extension of the old British disease of poor workman who now not only are poor workman but justify their position by penalising others and with the authority do so now. I think Ozzy has the general idea. :*

14th Apr 2005, 17:38
Before sailing off into a crusade fighting every legal point, consider carefully whether it would be worth taking the hit and/or points and walking away? It may seem worth fighting it on principle, but think very carefully whether it is really worth what would be extensive legal fees and possibly a more severe penalty? Sometimes it's better just to take the hit and put it behind you- we've all seen news items about people who fight the most absurd small points to the bitter end- very often their end! The couple recently in a dispute over a minor bill from their builder who ended up hundreds of thousands of pounds down. Sometimes it's just not worth the effort.

14th Apr 2005, 17:50
To those who say forget it - not worth the hassle etc...

Assuming that Tom isn't the only one who did this and they all got tickets...

A guestimate, (being that it's London) that probably 1000 cars took the same avoiding action into the bus lane that day...

Assume that only 50% pay up at all and all those do so within the 14 days...

Then thats 500 x £50 = £25000 that the council has taken 'incorrectly'!

Why should they be allowed to get away with that? Doesn't it constitute fraud?


simon brown
14th Apr 2005, 18:06
Just another non achieving bureaucrat traffic warden trying to make up their performance targets.

As we dont produce anying anymore the govt raises its money by employing unachieving no hope idiots to enforce pathetic petty rule infringements whilst alienating the whole of society and letting the crime rate increase as the Police collect taxes instead of solve crime.

Thames Valley are now introducing a points system so your average tax collector, sorry copper, has to get 200 points at the end of every month . That sorted then, just walk down th estreet checking tyres, tax disks, washer bottles, people who step on cracks in the pavement etc instead of clamping down on speeding chavs with noisy exhausts or general yobbish behaviour

14th Apr 2005, 19:12
Sometimes it's better just to take the hit and put it behind you Interesting, and in some cases no doubt it's the right thing to do. But I was talking to a guy over here about speed cameras and such. He is from Boston, he told me that speed cameras were deployed there some time ago. What happened was that a very, very large number of car owners who received the tickets in the mail decided to fight them in the courts. This ground the court system to a halt. This in turn forced the legislators to decide these devices were unworkable, which in turn led to the cameras being removed. :ok:


7th Jun 2005, 11:31
Hello everyone,

Well I have finally had the response I deserved, a letter arrived this morning subject ‘Notice of Acceptance of Representations – Road Traffic Act 1991, Schedule 6.’

“Having reviewed the CCTV footage it is clear you traveled a considerable distance in the bus lane despite the restrictions being in place. Generally this would lead to a PCN being upheld, however, having taken into account your previous clean record, the oncoming traffic, road works issue, and most importantly the fact you gained no advantage over other road users in entering the lane – I have now cancelled the notice.”

Although I don’t agree with the telling off about entering the bus lane too early and I am annoyed that my previous clean or otherwise driving record should have any affect on the validity of a PCN – I am obviously happy with the result.

Thanks for the help!