Wednesday, June 20, 2007

PATAS TEST CASE



The Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (PATAS) admitted today that a test case may be needed to ensure that justice for a driver is received - even though it ruled against it on appeal.

Exclusive to TheBigRetort
In a BigRetort exclusive, "John Paul Morgan -v- Transport for London (the Authority) sat yesterday at PATAS. The Appellant's concerns surrounded his right to halt in a junction box where traffic in front dictated.

The Adjudicator
Andrew Harman, representing PATAS wrote, "The adjudicator, having considered this appeal on the basis of written and personal evidence from the Appellant and written evidence from the Authority, has refused the appeal." The prohibition is set out in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002, Schedule 19, Part 2, Paragraph 7, in which it is claimed:
'...no person shall cause a vehicle to enter the box junction so that the vehicle has to stop within the box junction due to the presence of stationary vehicles.'

But where were the stationary vehicles?
There were no stationary vehicles at the point Morgan's vehicle entered the box, and so the reason for the adjudicator's refusal makes confusing reading. Mr Andrew Harman explained when he wrote: "The prohibition is silent as to whether such stationary vehicles have to be inside or outside the box junction." In this case there were no vehicles stopped in or outside the box, the problem occured later when free-flowing traffic, acknowledged by the adjudicator, was unexpectedly forced to stop inside the box.

A test case?
However, it is what Harman's adjudication went on to say that drives a coach and horses through the junction box 'theory': "The test to be applied is, in law, the state of the traffic when the driver enters the box junction." An admission that the law on this has not been fully tested, something that will find some interest amongst many drivers who have fallen foul of previous 'rulings'.
Morgan stated 'Transport for London (TfL)and PATAS take the interpretation of the regulation on what the law is silent on. In other words what it does NOT say rather than what it does. Which does not seem reasonable.' He believes the statement by PATAS points the way to judicial review.

Silent prohibition, a new term in the English language
So will Morgan be putting the yellow junction box theory to a legal test?
He believes this may be unnecessary. 'I feel certain that the law has made things much simpler than that. It's reasonable to assume that the prohibition is not silent, just misinterpreted... by those who profit most.'

Is PATAS impartial?
PATAS and the London Councils (aka TfL) share the same suite of offices, and the former is paid by the latter, which Morgan feels may affect its impartiality.
Of course, TfL may continue to fine drivers for a contravention that the regulation - the law - is silent on. And PATAS, viewed by Morgan as the monkey to its organ grinder, may continue to rubber stamp the PNCs on appeal because of this, but the road ahead looks pretty bumpy indeed.

Making a monkey out of justice
Coincidentally, Morgan discovered that PATAS is named after the monkey which avoids dense forests... surely this cannot be the reason why it cannot see the wood for the trees?

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