The Prankster reproduces the contents of the November POPLA newsletter for the benefit of those motorists who have not yet been personally emailed a copy.
The Prankster welcomes POPLA's increased openness, but considers that the newsletter should really go up on the web site at the same time as it is emailed to Operators.
The Prankster will comment on the newsletter in a future post.
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2013 Welcome to the November 2013 Issue of the Newsletter of POPLA, the independent appeal service for motorists who have received a parking charge notice in respect of vehicles being parked on private land.
We previously announced that, due to the high number of appeals being received at POPLA, unfortunate delays arose in the time decisions took to go before the Assessor.
We took urgent action to clear this, including temporarily extending the period before the scheduled hearing date for appeals and also the appointment of a number of new Assessors.
We are pleased to confirm that these short term actions proved very successful and that appeals are now being scheduled as normal, although we will take account of the season holidays. Our aim is for all appeals now to be decided within the previously stated timescales.
An average of 550 appeals are now being received each week and whilst, at any point in time, some cases may stand adjourned for various reasons, the measures above helped to clear general backlog that had built up.
POPLA offices will close at 16:30 on Friday 20 December
2013 and reopen at 09:00 on Monday 6 January 2014
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Whether described as a notice or letter, the operator’s rejection of initial representations made to them in respect of a parking charge notice is important. It should set out the reasons for the rejection, dealing with all matters that have been raised. Experience shows that rejections that do so may well mean that an appeal to POPLA does not follow, if the recipient can see that all their points have been satisfactorily addressed.
Under no circumstances whatsoever is it appropriate for an operator to suggest in a rejection that an appeal to POPLA is ‘unwise’, ‘unnecessary’, ‘bound to fail’ or anything similar.
If an appeal comes before POPLA where it appears that operator appears to have been actively dissuading an appellant from making an appeal, the matter may have to be referred to the BPA.
As previously stated, operators must be careful to ensure that the wording of any rejection does not, even inadvertently, appear to suggest that the charge might increase by making an appeal to POPLA.
Operators must, on every occasion, include the verification code in their rejection of representations. The recipient of the rejection should not have to ask for it.
Failure by an operator to provide a verification code in their rejection letter is a breach of the Code of Practice, sanctionable by the BPA.
Rather than just a reference, the verification code should be clearly identifiable as such, for example:
Your verification code, which you will need to appeal to POPLA, is XXXXXXXXXX.
Even if the verification code is automatically printed on an enclosed appeal form, it must still be in the dated rejection notice/letter. If it is not, and if the issue arises, it may then be difficult for the operator to show exactly when the verification code was provided to an appellant.
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Assessors at POPLA consider evidence produced by the parties to the appeal. Generally, it is a matter for each party to an appeal (that is the appellant and the operator) to decide what evidence they wish to produce in order to assist their case.
Please note that the Assessor will not contact witnesses on behalf of operators or appellants and will not consider evidence from a party who seeks to exclude that evidence from the other party.
If an appellant or operator believes that their case can be put on the basis of partially redacted evidence then that is a matter for them but the other party should be aware that the Assessor will have no further details than have been supplied to them. Thus if, for example, a document is produced by an operator or appellant with a name blanked out, then that is exactly how the Assessor will consider the document.
However, as advised in the last Newsletter, just like every court, tribunal, ombudsman and arbitration service, in order to consider appeals effectively, POPLA requires certain basic information to be provided in every case by the operator, since they are the party seeking the parking charge.
This is what we said we require:
A copy of any notice issued under Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 must be produced, where relied upon.
The original parking charge notice (or a true copy of it)
The appellant’s representations to the operator
The operator’s rejection of those representations
Whilst the statutory tribunals require these or similar items to be produced, and failure to do so may mean the appeal is allowed, this is not the case with an appeal to POPLA because there is no such statutory requirement. It appears that some appellants, perhaps taking incorrect advice from the internet, have misunderstood this.
Nevertheless it is what we expect operators to produce.
Since Schedule 4 has specific provision as to the content of notices, a copy must be produced to ensure that it complies with the statutory requirements.
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A failure by the recipient of notice issued under Schedule 4 to name the driver, does not of itself mean that the recipient has accepted that they were the driver at the material date.
We have previously stated that we appreciate that it may not be possible for some operators to produce a ‘carbon’ copy of a parking charge notice which is issued at the scene. We also noted that some ticketing systems will create a full printout but not everyone will have such software. The submitted details do not have to be in any prescribed format but must be clear and must contain everything that is on the original, including all details about payment and the discount.
Operators who usually produce at least a representation of the equivalent notice for enforcement authority evidence in the statutory tribunals but do not do so for appeals to POPLA, may want to establish if there is any technical why they cannot do so.
As also explained on previous occasions, both sides of a parking charge notice should be produced (even if the reverse is a standard printed page) particularly if, for example, it contains payment details or explanations of codes used on the front.
The operator should also produce everything that the motorist has sent to them, whether by post, email or via the operator’s website including, for example, images. Appellants usually assume that the Assessor is aware of what has already been sent to the operator, even if they do not specifically refer to it in their appeal.
Further, if the motorist, in making online representations to the operator, is required to tick a box or similar, to make any declaration such as ‘I was/was not the driver at the time’, then the operator should produce this in their evidence. Whatever facts the operator and appellant know and agree, the Assessor will only be aware of them if set out by the parties.
Stating your case
Appellants should set out their case clearly on the appeal form, whether written or done online. If it is handwritten, it is obviously important that is clear and legible so the Assessor can understand everything that the appellant is saying.
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There is no need to use formal or legalistic language. If an appellant cannot work out which ground of appeal to trick, they should simply explain what their appeal is about and submit it, although remembering that the Assessor cannot allow an appeal because of mitigating circumstances.
Operators should set out their case clearly in the case summary. POPLA strongly advise all operators to produce a clear case summary with every appeal they contest. In this the operator can explain why the parking charge notice was issued and deal with each of the matters that have been raised by the appellant.
As explained above, Assessors at POPLA will generally only consider issues raised by one or both of the parties.
However, some matters are clearly fundamental in that, for example, the Assessor cannot make a finding of liability against a party when it is unclear who that party is. Equally, the Assessor cannot make such a finding if the amount of the parking charge is not clear.
With the last newsletter we enclosed two model witness statements. These were drafted by the Lead Adjudicator in the interests of efficiency. They were not created or provided by any party to proceedings or by the BPA. It is common practice in courts and tribunals for model forms to be produced.
In many cases such forms will deal with the issues raised, without the necessity of the production of, in this case, contracts, which may be voluminous with much detail that is irrelevant to the issues to be decided.
We do suggest the format in which evidence is submitted. This applies to both parties but, in the main, it is operators who submit the most
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evidence and we need to control the format to enable the service to run efficiently. Please see further information on this later in this Newsletter. This is not a question of how anyone can best win their case, which is a decision for the Assessor, but rather how we deal with the administration of cases in the most efficient way.
POPLA has not run workshops of any description. POPLA does not provide coaching sessions for parties to appeals, or anyone else. Media and internet forum suggestions to the contrary are incorrect.
It is common for judicial heads of tribunals to attend conferences and seminars, and occasionally to speak at them. Such events may be subject based or purely legal but will always relate to principles.
As is also common throughout the court and tribunal system, from time to time user groups may be attended by administrative staff but these will never deal with individual cases.
Further to the last Newsletter we would like to again remind parties about the most appropriate way of contacting POPLA.
POPLA have a number of public and personal mail boxes to which e-mails can be sent. For your communication to be dealt with effectively please follow the structure below.
Appellants can submit an appeal online or by post.
The easiest way to submit an appeal is via our website at www.popla.org.uk. Appellants can also upload evidence from the website. A valid verification code is required to do either. The verification code must be supplied by the operator with their rejection of original representations
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You CANNOT submit an appeal by email.
You can write to us at: PO Box 70748, London EC1P 1SN
You can email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org but remember that you cannot submit an appeal by email.
You can telephone us at: 0845 207 7700
Please always quote you verification code when contacting POPLA.
It is essential that all evidence and other case pertinent information is sent to the appropriate mail box only. Evidence submission made to other POPLA mail boxes may not be received or considered by the Assessors.
If an email is rejected by the mail box please contact POPLA either by phone or email, attaching any rejection/bounce back e-mail messages as these will help us resolve any issues. Please do not attempt to resend the e-mailed evidence to any other POPLA mail box.
No more than one verification code / appeal per email
Subject line should read as follows when sending cases over multiple emails:
<<verification code>> part <<current part>> of <<total parts>>
For example, the second email for a case where the evidence is split over three emails with verification code 1230002013
The subject line should read: 1230002013 part 2 of 3
If the verification code is not in the subject line evidence may not be saved to the correct case file.
Evidence submissions or information pertinent to the case should not be placed within the body of an email. All written evidence
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submissions and statements, including email chains, should be in PDF form and clearly labelled.
Emails including attachments must not exceed 20 megabytes
Files to be submitted in the following formats:
Documents PDF only
Images jpeg, png, gif and PDF only (images no greater than 1 megabyte)
Moving Images CD only – AAF, 3GP, GIF, AVI, FLV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, SWF, FLA, FLR, MKV, MOV, WMV and DivX.
Correspondence to POPLA can be dealt with more effectively if it is sent to one public mail box, if you wish an individual can also be added to the recipients list.
Parties submitting photographs/digital images should always consider whether their case is assisted in the particular circumstances by images being clearly stamped or marked with the true date and time. This the best practice in all circumstances.
Library images, captured before or after an alleged breach, are sometimes submitted by operators and/or appellants. These are often used to show the general layout of a location. However, it is equally important that the other party has a clear idea when such images were taken, particularly if, for example, they show signs, or indeed the absence of signs, upon which the party relies.
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The correct date and time stamp should be clearly visible on the face of the images so it can easily be seen by the other party. This can be electronically generated by most devices. The Assessor is not an investigator and will not conduct any form of search into the image data since this may not have been immediately available to the other party when the image was supplied.
POPLA will close at 16:30 on Friday 20 December 2013 and reopen at 09:00 on Monday 6 January 2014. Appeals may still be submitted online but, to avoid the risk of automated mailboxes filling, operators should not submit evidence during this period.
However, the POPLA enquiry line on 0845 207 7700 will remain open throughout this period, except for 25 December 2013.
PO Box 70748
London EC1P 1SN
0845 207 7700
calls to POPLA may be recorded