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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I accidentally missed my exit on the M25 and ended up going

Resolved Question:

Hi, I accidentally missed my exit on the M25 and ended up going over the dartford crossing, soon as was possible I turned back and returned over the crossing to get back to my original intended exit.
A few weeks later I received a threatening PCN for £70. I appealed and the authority issuing the PCN (DartCharge) cancelled the PCN and demanded I pay the standard £2.50 crossing fee per crossing. I made the £5 payment which they accepted and they made a statement to close the case.
However I was not happy with being bullied into paying this fee as I had no intention of making the crossing, I made a mistake and missed my exit. I did not know there was no other junction prior to the dartford crossing, so I felt it was unfair that I should be charged.
So I requested the adjudicator to look at my circumstances and make a decision on whether it was fair to charge someone for using the crossing by mistake. the adjudicator decided against me and ordered that I pay the £70 PCN on top of the standard crossing fee I had already paid!!
I want to know if I can take this issue to a court at all? Also, I want to understand the procedural part of PCNs and how they end up in court. There is a warning note on the PCN suggesting if I don't make payment within 14 days, it may result in them registering a debt in the county court.
Can I argue my case in the county court? will they consider my ground? can you please explain the procedural part of the penalty escalation process?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

You can always take this to court.

It’s not unknown for people to inadvertently make the crossing.

Because the timescale between you going away and coming back was obviously a mistake, they remove the charge.

The issue then is over the £5 which you accepted reluctantly.

I’m somewhat surprised that the adjudicator then decided to reverse the penalty and impose it once again, on top of the fee. Unfortunately, it can happen when you appeal something.

You can always take the matter to court but as the original issue was set aside and then you took exception to the £5 if you go back to court, even if your appeal is then successful, you could well get the £70 overturned and the £5 overturned. However you rest then that on the basis that the whole argument is disproportionate to the amount of court time involved over what was a £5 issue, you could get court costs awarded against you even though your appeal is successful.

I know that you feel you are being bullied because this was a genuine mistake but you may win the battle and lose the war.

Your appeal to court may be successful and you may not get costs awarded against you but it is a risk that you run

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Is there some sort of human right violation here at all? this case effectively penalises (disproportionately) drivers for making a mistake on the road?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

There is nothing in this which is covered under the Human Rights Act.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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