UPDATED NOVEMBER 2013

This information covers civil enforcement legislation relating to local authority parking and traffic restrictions and to enforcement of parking on private land.  Information relating to Bailiffs and Speeding issues are reported separately under those subjects.

Statute & case law

The following information relating to law affecting the motorist derives from statute law – the primary law of Acts of Parliament.  Statutory Regulations are secondary/subordinate legislation in specific and more detailed furtherance of primary enactments.  Legislation of interest to motorists additional to that described here may be found on the relevant website of the National Archives.  Case law, established by judgments of the Courts, may or may not be reported but many cases judgments of significance can be found at the BAILII website.

Tips for understanding and printing statutory Regulations

It is always informative to read the ‘Explanatory Note' section shown at the beginning or end of Regulations; they provide a succinct summary of how and where those Regulations apply and the objectives.  They are especially useful for understanding Amendment Regulations.

Regulations and Acts on the internet usually provide a set of options to open the whole document or part of the document in different ways. To copy or print out extracts of these documents it may be advantageous to open the ‘Original Print PDF' version.

Local authority civil enforcement powers and rules

Parking and traffic restrictions are devised by local authorities and authorised by them in local byelaws known as traffic orders. In London they are known as Traffic Management Orders; outside London they are known as Traffic Regulation Orders.

The power to make traffic orders is provided to order-making authorities by The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

This Act has been extensively amended because of the advent of an enormous amount of new related legislation since the Act commenced.

Later Legislation relating to traffic management including signage in London is set out in The Greater London Authority Act 1999.

The 1984 Act provides for Regulations to be made which govern how traffic orders must be planned, made, and brought into force by enforcement authorities (and in some cases by the police. These are the ‘LATOR' regulations which is currently The Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England & Wales) Regulations 1996.

Regulation 18 of these Regulations was amended in 2009 by The Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2009 to make clear that the prohibitions of ‘double parking' and parking at dropped footways (per sections 85 and 86 of the Traffic Management Act 2004) may be enforced without signs to that effect being required.

A new edition of LATOR is due for introduction in 2013.

Penalisable contraventions

Every penalisable contravention of local authority civil parking and traffic restrictions is classified by a nationally-standardised set of contravention code numbers and descriptions.  These are formulated and updated from time to time by London Councils.

The current listing of contraventions was updated on 1st November 2013.

The standardised amount of penalty charges is decided by the Government and authorised by means of a Statutory instrument.  The current rates are prescribed in SI 3487/2007.

Regulations v restrictions

‘Regulations' are Statutory Instruments (such as LATOR) created by Parliament as secondary legislation authorised by Acts of Parliament (statutes/enactments).  The rules of parking which are set out in traffic order bye-laws created by local authorities are parking and traffic ‘restrictions', not regulations.

Criminal and civil enforcement of parking and traffic restrictions

The Road Traffic Act 1991 introduced ‘De-criminalised' Parking Enforcement (DPE) to provide power for local authorities to employ ‘Parking Attendants' to enforce their parking restrictions. Contraventions of parking restrictions became no longer a criminal ‘offence' (if they were enforced by local authorities).  They became non-criminal civil ‘contraventions' of parking restrictions which were penalisable by means of fixed-amount ‘penalty charges' (not criminal ‘fines').

A very small number of areas are still enforced by the police where local authorities have not yet taken the power for civil enforcement. Staff employed by the police for parking enforcement remain known as ‘Traffic Wardens.

The rules about civil penalty charge notices and other enforcement issues were all set out in the 1991 Act.

The 1991 Act was replaced by the current Traffic Management Act 2004.  ‘De-criminalised parking enforcement then became known as Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) with ‘Parking Attendants' employed by or working for local authorities becoming known as Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs).

Traffic Management Act Regulations

Unlike the RTA 1991, the current Traffic Management Act 2004 does not prescribe details of the enforcement process and the opportunities to contest allegations by local authorities of contraventions under the 2004 Act. These are set out in two secondary Regulations. For England they are:

There is also The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General (Amendment) Regulations 2008.

For Wales The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (Penalty Charge Notices, Enforcement and Adjudication)(Wales)(Regulations 2008 applies.

Traffic Signs Regulations

The currently-prescribed traffic signs and road markings permitted to be placed on the highway in compliance with Pat V of the Road Traffic Act 1984 are set out in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD 2002).

This comprises the Traffic Signs Regulations (including road markings) and, separately towards the end, the Traffic Signs General Directions which prescribe the permitted ways in which upright signs and road markings may be varied and further prescribe the only permitted combinations of signs and road markings.

These Regulations govern only traffic signage on the public highway but not in any off-street place or car parks.

The TSRGD has been amended since 2002.

The Traffic Signs (Amendment) Regulations and General Directions 2008
concerns updating of signage relating to speed restrictions and camera speed enforcement (see the Explanatory Note).

The Traffic Signs (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations and General Directions 2011 includes, among other things, new signs for bus lanes & cycle lanes, revised General Directions relating to bus stops and bus stands, issues concerning Box Junctions, Electric Vehicles, Pedestrian Crossing signage, and variants and uses of safety camera signs for traffic enforcement of bus lanes and similar.  It also corrects some errors and omissions in TSRGD.

2002 road marking diagrams, for example, have several prescribed variants of the legends that may be used or omitted from the example diagrams shown.  Amendment 2 adds new permitted variants as it does in respect of upright signs.  The 20pp DfT Traffic Advisory Leaflet 01/12 issued February 2012 is essential reading for an understanding of the 2011 Amendment and related issues.  It reminds that no traffic sign (which includes traffic sign road markings) may be placed on the highways of Great Britain unless it is specified by the TSRGD 2002 or authorised differently by the Secretary of State for Transport (or by the appropriate devolved administration).

The 2002 TSRGD in the process of complete revision with the intention of replacement Regulations being introduced in late 2014.

Other Regulations

Vehicle towing away

The legislation provides enforcement authorities with power to remove offending vehicles from the street and public car parks. This is governed by The Removal and Disposal of Vehicles (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2007.

Penalty charges

The amount of penalty charges in England is governed by The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (Guidelines on Levels of Charges) (England) Order 2007. The Regulations for Wales is The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (Guidelines on Levels of Charges) (Wales) Order 2008.

The variety of parking and traffic contraventions and their code reference numbers has escalated to such a bewildering extent that drivers could now be forgiven for thinking they could be penalised just for sitting in their car.

London Councils issues the comprehensive listings of all country-wide local authority contravention codes applicable on-street and off-street and updates it from time to time.  Some of the contraventions apply only to London. Version 6.6.1 was issued in April 2013.

The codes and descriptions for lower level parking and the bus lane contraventions also apply in the rest of England and Wales.

Enforcement officer uniforms

Regulations also apply in England to the on-duty wearing of uniforms by CEOs. They are The Civil Enforcement Officers (Wearing of Uniforms) (England) Regulations 2007.

Parking and traffic enforcement by means of CCTV

A massive and increasing amount of enforcement is conducted by CCTV camera surveillance (unnecessarily and wrongly so as NMAG explains elsewhere). The relevant legislation is significantly poor and unsatisfactory and partly irrational but the following is relevant.

The enforcement process by means of CCTV always involves observation by a camera, recording and processing the images together with a related set of metadata (details of the time and place and much more) obtaining contact details from the DVLA of the person believed to be the registered keeper of the vehicle, the preparation of video and other documentary evidence of the alleged contravention, and enforcement correspondence with the person believed to be the vehicle's keeper.

For CCTV enforcement of alleged parking contraventions (only parking) the entire CCTV system from camera to the end-product video and documentary evidence must constitute an ‘Approved Device'. The appropriate legislation for England is The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (Approved Devices) (England) Order 2007.

Bizarrely, enforcement of parking restrictions may be lawfully conducted only by means of Approved Devices but enforcement of moving traffic contraventions do not.  Some authorities even monitor moving traffic for enforcement purposes using hand-held domestic-type video cameras.

London

Enactments

Moving traffic matters in London including relevant traffic signs, penalty charges for contraventions and fixed penalties for traffic offences, and footway parking are governed by the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003. This Act provides the specification of the relevant penalty charge notices which, unlike PCNs issued under the TMA 2004 for contraventions of some local authority Traffic Management Order, are for moving traffic violations of provisions of the Act.

The London Local Authorities Act 1996 has provisions for bus lanes.

The London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2008 has provisions in Part 2 relating to several parking issues including footway parking, rules concerning a Notice to Owner, and unlawful release of vehicles.

Road user charging

Many Regulations apply specifically to Greater London in relation to Road User Charging and the appeals process for contraventions. They are:

For London adjudication  of parking and traffic appeals The Road Traffic (Parking Adjudicators)(London) Regulations 1993 (as amended) applies.

Parking on private land

The legislation that governs the parking of vehicles on private land is set out in The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

Section 56 of the Act, which deals with the Recovery of Unpaid Parking Charges, is within Part 3 which concerns the Protection of property from disproportionate enforcement action. It includes prohibitions on the clamping of vehicles and provides an extension of powers to remove vehicles from land.

Section 56 gives effect to Schedule 4 of the Act which makes provision for the recovery of unpaid parking charges from the keeper or hirer of a vehicle in certain circumstances.  Schedule 4 came into force on 1st October 2012).

Administration of driver and vehicle documents & data

The DVLA issuing and maintenance of driver licence information, vehicle registration information, the disclosure of relevant information to requesters and related matters is governed by The Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002.

Workplace parking levy

Implementation and operation of the WPL is governed by The Workplace Parking Levy (England) Regulations 2009.

These Regulations which were created under powers afforded by part 3 of The Transport Act 2000 enable local authorities to tax some companies/businesses and/or some of their employees if the company has more than ten parking places.  Where companies, many of whom are in financial difficulties or need all available finance to compete with others and invest in their businesses to maintain their viability, are unable to fund this additional tax burden relevant employees are forced to pay over £300/yr (in Nottingham in 2013) if there happens to be more than ten parking spaces at their place of work.

At June 2013 Nottingham is the only authority to have levied this imposition.  Bristol intended to do so but did not as a result of widespread protest and objections.  Substantial Nottingham increases in the levy are already decided for the years ahead, all arbitrary and unrelated to the means to pay.

The 2000 Act is primarily concerned with public transport issues of every kind, the purpose of the levy being to fund public transport facilities and improvement in the area.  However, for most of the affected companies and their employees there is no benefit from the the tax.

A comprehensive employer’s guide to WPL has been produced by Nottingham City Council. (To print it it may be necessary to save the document and print the saved file and may be necessary to print landscape orientation)

 

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