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Camden faces £10million bill for illegal parking tickets

13:34 25 February 2011

A HIGH court judge has upheld a ruling that tens of thousands of parking fines issued by Camden Council in the first half of 2009 are illegal.

The judgment relates to a policy the council launched in January 2009 of charging an administration fee when drivers paid parking tickets by credit cards.

The charges were scrapped six months after they were introduced when an independent parking adjudicator deemed this practice unlawful.

But this decision effectively invalidated the tickets issued when the surcharge was in place and led to calls for the council to pay back the fines, which were reported to total £25million.

However, Camden now claims this figure is closer to £10million.

The latest judgment has now renewed the prospect that the council will have to repay millions of pounds

And ParkingAppeals.com, the organisation who brought the initial case against the surcharge, have warned that they will bring further legal action if Camden fail to do so.

Neil Herron, director of the lobby group, said: “I think there’s no doubt it – Camden has had the money unlawfully. It has been illegally enriched. Therefore the full amount of the money has to be refunded.

“It’s a legal issue because the tickets weren’t legal. So they have a moral, legal and financial obligation to refund the money.”

Richard Chaumeton, of London Motoring Action Group, agreed that in moral terms the council should be made to pay back the penalties, but accepted this may not be viable in the current economic climate.

He said: “It’s a marvellous outcome. Camden have prostituted parking for too long.

“They’ve been caught out yet again. They think they’re above the law and they’re not.

“I think having the hassle of paying back the 50p charge is not practical, but morally they should give the money back.”

The challenges to the 1.3 per cent fee on the credit card payments date back to June 1, 2009, when an adjudicator for the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service (PATAS) ruled that the surcharges were unlawful.

The council attempted to appeal against this judgement in three further hearings, but on each occasion PATAS upheld its original decision.

Then in November last year, after being granted a judicial review, Camden took their case to the High Court.

But this week Town Hall bsses were disappointed once again when Mr Justice Burnett dismissed their challenge.

He concluded that the credit card charge had the effect of increasing the parking fine and amounted to a “procedural impropriety”

Camden Council has not confirmed whether they will make the repayments, but say they are considering their next move.

A council spokesman said: “We are disappointed by the ruling and will be reflecting on the judgement and the implications for the council in the coming days.”

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