Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Signage at Liverpool Business Park

Vehicle Control Systems are in the habit of issuing £100 as a charge for briefly stopping anywhere in Liverpool Business Park, including the laybys.

The signage is similar to that at Liverpool Airport, which has previously been analysed by The Prankster

This youtube video shows the signage at the park.

00:07-00:10 For comparison, here is a proper road sign. You can read all the words.
00:14-00:17 Here is another proper sign. You can read all the words
00:28-00:31 Here is the main VCS sign. You can only read the words 'No Stopping'
00:35-00:36 Here is a subsidiary VCS sign. You cannot read any words as the sign does not face traffic and the driver would have no indication of what this refers to.

It is clear that no competent legal professional would ever contemplate a charge could be valid in this type of case. Firstly, it is not possible to fully read the signs while driving past at normal road speed. A key criteria for a contract to be in place is a meeting of minds, and this can never be in place if one party cannot read the contract. The normal time given for this in a car park is five minutes once the vehicle is stationary; not 2 seconds in a moving vehicle.

Secondly, the signage is in any case forbidding and makes no offer. As it says 'No Stopping' there is no offer to stop. There is therefore no contract, but this would make anyone stopping a trespasser.

Thirdly, the charge of £100 is a penalty and unfair consumer term. The case of ParkingEye v Beavis [2015] UKSC 67 is the leading authority on this, and it makes it clear that the penalties law is in play for charges of this size. It also makes it clear that a motorist must have a fair chance to read the signs and accept the bargain; otherwise the term is unfair.

It is also worth pointing out that from 00:28-00;30 a competent motorist would be keeping half an eye on the dog, in case it ran out, and not on the signage. The presence of this type of signage is therefore a safety issue.

This facebook video shows is is dangerous to take your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds.

This government publication on X-Height for road signs shows that the signs used by VCS are positioned too close to the junction, use fonts which are too small, contain too many words, and are positioned too low.

This Government publication further reinforces the minimum font sizes to use. Section 1.3 and appendix A are useful references for font sizes, height above ground and minimum clear visibility distances. At 30mph the sign should be 0.6m above ground, have 60m clear visibility and a font size of 8cm. The font size of the £100 charge is 4cm, or half the required size.

The Prankster suggests that any motorists taken to court for this site files the youtube and facebook clips, together with the government documents as evidence, and makes the above points in their defence.

If the keeper is not the driver then an additional point apples as VCS do not currently use the keeper liability provision of the Protection Of Freedoms Act 2012, sch 4. Therefore only the driver can be liable for any charge issued.

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