The Parking Adjudicator’s approach to defects in “signs and lines” upheld in High Court case on Controlled Parking Zones
NEIL HERRON PARKING APPEALS LIMITED v THE PARKING ADJUDICATOR and SUNDERLAND CITY COUNCIL (1) PARKING AND TRAFFIC APPEALS SERVICE (2) TRAFFIC PENALTY TRIBUNAL (3) NCP SERVICES LIMITED (4) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT (5) (as Interested Parties)
Mr Justice Bean
 EWHC 1161 (Admin)
The Administrative Court today rejected a widely-publicised challenge brought by motoring campaigners who sought judicial review of the decisions of the Parking Adjudicator. At an earlier hearing, Keith J had dismissed a challenge to the independence of the parking adjudication system under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They also sought a declaration that a Sunderland city-wide Controlled Parking Zone (“CPZ”) does not comply with Regulation 4 and Direction 25 of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 and that all single yellow line waiting restrictions contained within it are unenforceable.
The judgment of Mr Justice Bean distinguishes a series of cases dealing with defects in “signs and lines” (traffic signs and carriageway markings). The Judge expressly approved the approach developed by the Parking Adjudicator in its case law dealing with challenges to defects in signs and lines, which held that where the defect was in a different location from the one where the motorist had parked it could be treated as immaterial. The Judge stated, “Any non-compliance is immaterial if it is too far from the location of the particular motorist’s contravention to have led him or her into error.”
Dealing with the principle of statutory interpretation that penal statutes are to be construed strictly, the Judge observed that a statutory provision which permits the issue of a penalty charge notice must be construed strictly, in the sense that where there is a genuine ambiguity in the language used the motorist is entitled to the benefit of the doubt in interpreting it. But that does not mean that it has to be construed so literally as to produce an absurd result.
The statutory definition of a CPZ was held to mean that every part of every road in a CPZ, other than a parking bay, must be marked with a single or double yellow line, except where an alternative parking prohibition is marked out (such as that imposed by the zig-zags on the approach to a pedestrian crossing).
The Judge concluded that Mr Herron’s argument was “entirely based on technicality and utterly devoid of merit”, the Parking Adjudicator had not erred in law and the challenges to 54 penalty charge notices were rightly rejected.
Ian Rogers appeared throughout the proceedings for the Parking Adjudicator, instructed by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
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