A mum-of-3 won a landmark case over a confusing road sign which has set a legal precedent.
It 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). This has become known as the Mr Loophole effect and Nick Freeman has published a book to shine a spotlight on the techniques he uses.
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. I have written about obscured and hidden parking signs, and these are just traps and money-raising exercises to fleece motorists.
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.
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 they were 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. It was widely reported in the UK media.
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.”
The tribunal ruled that the signage was inadequate and overturned a fine issued by one of the UK’s most profitable traffic cameras.
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. 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).
This psychologist won her appeal on a similar case as there were too many signs that confused her brain. This lady is qualified to offer such opinions as she has published academic papers on how the brain processes visual information.
Have you been caught out by a confusing road sign and bus lane cameras? If so, what was the outcome?