MUM-OF-3 WINS LANDMARK CASE OVER CONFUSING ROAD SIGN – 26/03/2019
This case came to my attention fairly recently and is one of many that are coming to light by motorists inspired by recent high profile cases where celebrities have hired Nick Freeman (otherwise known as Mr Loophole for his ability to find loopholes in badly drafted legislation and sloppy administration errors by the authorities trying to enforce the laws).
I spoke about the Mr Loophole effect for driving offences here
The number of motorists taking cases to Court rather than accepting on-the-spot fines has risen by almost 50% in the past 4 years.
The background to this case is that a journalist from the Hackney Gazette successfully appealed a £65 penalty charge issued after she made a left turn at a junction in Hackney, East London.
She took her case to a tribunal who ruled in her favour that the signage was inadequate and overturned a fine issued by one of the UK’s most profitable traffic cameras.
It is clear from the news articles that ran with the story that the sign was obscured by a set of traffic lights at the point of entry, and is only visible when it is too late to safely avoid contravening the road sign.
Hackney Council banned drivers from turning left at the junction in June 2018 in a bid to reduce air pollution near a local school between 7am and 10am and 3pm and 7pm.
This motorist claimed the signs banning the turn at certain times of the day were ‘not clear and confusing for motorists’.
Driving conditions were not good at the time and she claimed that the signage was simply obscured and unclear.
The Council initially rejected her appeal (as expected), so she took her case to the London Tribunal who ruled in her favour stating that they were poorly positioned and not easy for motorists to read and overturned the fine. This case has now opened the floodgates for over 20,000 drivers to challenge fines and potentially apply for refunds.
Had she lost her case, she would have had to pay a penalty charge of £130.
Almost 21,000 penalty charges have been issued to vehicles contravening this road sign since traffic cameras were installed 9 months ago, which have raked in about £14,000 every day for Hackney Council and almost £100,000 a week.
Only about 40% of appeals made by motorists have been successful according to figures released by the Council, meaning that thousands of others can now use this as a precedent to have their charges overturned.
Mr Sean Stanton-Dunne, London Tribunal adjudicator, told the Hackney Gazette, “The no left turn sign is positioned beyond the traffic lights so that it may not be clearly seen before the lights. The lights are in front of the sign and so risk causing an obstructed view from car level in the left hand lane. There is an advance warning sign further back from the lights but this is tilted at an angle so that it does not directly face the approaching motorist.”
Whilst I cannot condone speeding and other common infringements that most motorists are guilty of at some point in their driving lifetime, The Road Traffic Act cuts both ways and the authorities cannot expect this to flow one way against motorists without expecting some resistance by those that are prepared to fight back against the constant attrition they are faced with.
If a sign is obscured in any way, it cannot be said that the road was adequately signed. You should therefore not be found guilty of an offence (whatever that may be).
I cover obscured road signs, signs on temporary roadworks, the legality of the use of speed guns and much more in my book complete with various templates based on tried and tested cases that work.
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