Chapters

There are several defences available in response to a parking or traffic offence.

Denying Responsibility

If there is no dispute that the offence was committed, but the owner disputes liability, then it is better to take the appropriate action immediately, rather than to wait for a summons. In certain circumstances, the owner is not held liable and these circumstances also apply where the offence was committed in a Council parking area, and the notice was issued by an officer of the Council. In such a case, the appropriate statutory declaration should be sent to the Council rather than to the Superintendent of Traffic. The Council has authority to issue a ‘withdrawal notice’ in this case.

The Vehicle was Stolen or Illegally Taken and Used

Where the theft or taking of the vehicle was reported to the police, a declaration from the police lodged with the Council will usually be sufficient to end the matter. Where the theft or taking was not reported to the police, a statutory declaration setting out the circumstances of the theft, or the taking of the vehicle, and explaining why it was not reported, should be made. This should then be sent to the Council at the address shown on the notice. If the explanation is accepted, that will be the end of the matter. If the explanation is not accepted, there is the option of letting the matter go to court and attempting to satisfy the court that the car was stolen or illegally taken and used at the time of the offence. However, the considerations noted above should be borne in mind, and it would be best to seek legal advice before proceeding.

Someone Else was in Charge of the Vehicle

In this case, one solution is to obtain the amount involved from the person and pay the penalty. If the person is unwilling to pay, a statutory declaration containing the name and address of the person involved, and setting out the circumstances in which they came to be in charge of the vehicle, can be made. This should be sent to the Council at the address shown on the notice.

The Owner Does Not Know Who Was in Charge of the Vehicle

Such a circumstance will rarely arise. To avoid liability the council must be satisfied that the owner does not know and cannot with reasonable effort find out the name and address of the person in charge of the vehicle at the relevant time. A statutory declaration should be made, setting out all the relevant facts including efforts to find out the name and address of the person involved. This should be sent to the Council at the address shown on the notice. Such explanations are, however, rarely accepted. Then there is the question whether to let the matter go to court, where the owner can attempt to satisfy the court that they are not liable. As noted above, it would be best to seek legal advice before proceeding.

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