Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Seventh Report



1. The Committee has considered the instruments set out in the Annex to this Report and has determined that the special attention of both Houses does not require to be drawn to any of them.


REGULATIONS 2001 (S.I. 2001/2313)

2. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the grounds that they are defectively drafted.

3. These Regulations deal with the notification, adjudication and enforcement of penalty charges under road charging schemes in Greater London. They complement the Road User Charges (Charging and Penalty Charges) (London) Regulations 2001 (S.I. 2001/2285) ("the Charging Regulations"), which permit charging schemes to provide for penalty charges to be imposed in specified circumstances.

4. It seemed to the Committee that in the following respects the Regulations were incompatible with the Charging Regulations.

  • Regulation 12, which provides for the service of penalty charge notices, in paragraph (3)(d) requires a notice to state that the penalty charge must be paid before the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the date of the notice. But regulation 4(4) of the Charging Regulations leaves it to a charging scheme to specify the time within which a penalty charge is to be paid.

  • Regulation 17 provides for the service of a charge certificate, notifying the recipient that a penalty charge has been increased, where it has not been paid within the "relevant period". The relevant period is defined as a stated number of days from a specified event. Again, regulation 4(4) of the Charging Regulations leaves it to a charging scheme to specify the time within which a penalty charge must be paid to avoid its being increased.

  • Regulations 18 to 20 provide for the recovery through the county court of unpaid penalty charges, but apply only where a charge certificate has been served stating that the penalty charge has been increased in accordance with the charging scheme. As the Charging Regulations permit, but do not require, a charging scheme to provide for penalty charges to be increased if not paid within a specified time, the Regulations contain no provision for recovery of unpaid penalty charges which are not subject to an increase.

5. The Committee asked the Lord Chancellor's Department to explain these inconsistencies. In a memorandum printed in the Appendix, the Department accepts that regulations 12(3)(d) and 17 are not consistent with the Charging Regulations and accepts the Committee's analysis of the effect of regulations 18 to 20. The Committee accordingly reports regulations 12(3)(d), 17 and 18 to 20 for defective drafting, acknowledged by the Department.

6. Regulation 13(1) allows the recipient of a penalty charge notice who disputes his liability to make representations to the charging authority. It is not stated that such representations must be in writing, although regulation 10 (which provides for the making of representations in other circumstances) does so state, and paragraph 3(2) of the Schedule (which relates to appeals to an adjudicator) requires the charging authority to furnish a copy of the original representations. The Committee asked the Department to explain why regulation 13(1) does not require representations to be made in writing. The Department considers that it is highly unlikely that representations would be made otherwise than in writing, but accepts that it would have been preferable to have provided for this expressly and undertakes to make an appropriate amendment. The Committee is not persuaded of the Department's view as to the likelihood of representations being made otherwise than in writing, as it considers that people, given the choice, would be more likely to complain in person or by telephone. In its view the Department's intention that such oral representations should have no effect is not clearly conveyed, and the Committee reports regulation 13(1) for defective drafting, acknowledged by the Department.

7. The Committee notes the Department's undertaking to amend the Regulations to rectify the defects identified in this report before any charging schemes are in force.

1   The Orders of Reference of the Committee are set out in the First Report, Session 1999-2000 (HL Paper 4; HC 47-i). Back

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