Court win spurs call to refund $1m in parking fines

Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014

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A legal researcher who successfully challenged a $12 Hutt City Council parking fine says the council should refund more than $1 million paid by other motorists.

Alwyn O'Connor's claim that the council's parking time restrictions were not validly imposed has been upheld by District Court Judge Chris Tuohy.

O'Connor, who went to court rather than pay a $12 fine for parking more than 120 minutes in Port Rd, Seaview, last year, said Tuohy's decision highlighted a significant problem with a regime the council had been operating for seven years where it relied on a land transport rule rather than passing a bylaw.

O'Connor said council had issued more than 7000 tickets for more than $113,000 since the legality of its parking regime was challenged last year.

"I now want to know what they are going to do to refund those people."

He said the case had cost him a lot of time and more than $1000 in photocopying costs alone and many hours of consultations with his lawyer, Donald Stevens.

But it was worth it because he believed there was a strong public interest in having authorities act legally.

O'Connor believed more than $1m worth of tickets could have been issued improperly in the seven years since the time restriction was introduced.

He also wondered what the council was going to do now to control parking in time-restricted zones around the city.

The council's regulatory general manager, Joycelyn Foo, said it would discuss the implications of the judgment with its lawyers.

It would look at a bylaw to cover time-restricted parking but was not going to repay fines.

"We have been advised that once infringement fees are paid the statutory process is complete," Foo said. "Without a direction from the court, we are not legally obliged to refund any tickets already paid for these time parking restrictions."

The court ruling related only to time-restricted parking as parking meters, coupon parking, resident parking and no-stopping areas are legally covered by a bylaw.

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- The Dominion Post

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