Unfairly Treated by a Public Authority? You Are Not Powerless!
Judges are focused on the rights of the individual, as against public authorities, and with the right legal advice there is no reason why you should have to put up with unfairness. In one case that strikingly proved the point, a businessman triumphed in his marathon campaign to overturn a £195 parking penalty.
The man had left his moped in a Central London parking bay before going on holiday for three weeks. The bay was freely available and not subject to time limits. Whilst he was away, however, the bay was suspended and, on his return, he found a £130 parking ticket attached to his bike. He complained to a parking adjudicator, who recommended that the relevant local authority waive the fine. However, the council refused to back down and instead increased the penalty to £195.
The man’s judicial review challenge to the penalty was subsequently upheld by a judge on the basis that there had been no parking contravention. However, the council took the case to the Court of Appeal on the basis that the matter raised an issue of general public importance. It was submitted that, if the penalty were ruled unlawful, the power of local authorities to impose temporary parking restrictions during public events would be deeply undermined.
In dismissing the appeal, however, the Court noted that the council had not engaged with the earlier proceedings and had taken a passive approach to the matter. Whether or not it was right on the legal issues raised by the case, it was far too late for the council to put forward its arguments for the first time on appeal.