Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 26 Mar 2019
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman does not propose to investigate Mrs X’s complaint about a Penalty Charge Notice. If Mrs X did not receive the Council’s correspondence it would have been reasonable for her to apply to the Traffic Enforcement Centre to reinstate her right of appeal.
- Mrs X complains she did not receive correspondence about a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). She says enforcement agents are now harassing her for payment. Mrs X wants the Council to remove the enforcement costs and allow her to pay the original fine.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes limits on what we can investigate.
- The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone could take the matter to court. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to go to court. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(c), as amended)
- The Traffic Penalty Tribunal considers parking and moving traffic offence appeals for all areas of England outside London.
- The Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC) at Northampton County Court registers unpaid PCNs and considers ‘out of time’ witness statements and statutory declarations where a motorist says something has gone wrong with the process.
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the information put in by Mrs X with her complaint.
- Mrs X had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision.
What I found
- The Council issued Mrs X with a PCN.
- Mrs X says the PCN is not hers. She says has not received any correspondence from the Council about the PCN, despite changing her address with the DVLA and telling the Council.
- The Council says it sent all correspondence to the address provided by the DVLA.
- Mrs X says she should not be held responsible for someone else’s PCN and she had no control over how long it took the DVLA to amend her details. She wants the Council to remove the enforcement costs and take the PCN back to the original fine.
- Mrs X could have applied to the TEC to make a statutory declaration about the PCN. Not receiving the Notice is a ground for appeal.
- If the TEC accepted Mrs X’s application it would have ordered the Council to reissue the PCN. This would have reinstated Mrs X’s right to pay the PCN at the discounted rate or allowed her to dispute it and appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT).
- We cannot ask the Council to remove enforcement costs and allow Mrs X to pay the original fine. Only the TEC can do this.
- Parliament put in place a statutory right of appeal to protect motorists from wrongly issued penalties. Having missed the opportunity to appeal the PCN to the TPT Mrs X had the chance to apply to the TEC to reinstate her appeal rights. From the evidence I have seen she has not done so. I do not intend to exercise our discretion to investigate this complaint.
- The Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because it was reasonable for Mrs X to apply to make a statutory declaration to the TEC, asking it to reinstate her appeal rights.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman