Company highlights bylaw flaw in parking case win

A company that fought a $40 parking fine has highlighted a flaw in the Invercargill City Council’s bylaws.

Before justices of the peace Sharron Ryan and Craig Rodgers in the Invercargill District Court on Wednesday, Auto Repossessions Ltd defended a charge of failing to activate a parking meter.

Counsel Kristy Rusher argued there was no case to answer as the defendant had parked within the free 30-minute time period.

However, he did not enter his number plate in the kiosk and the council said that was an infringement.

But Ms Rusher pointed out there was no bylaw that stated citizens must enter their number plate, only to pay the required fee.

"There’s no failure to pay," Ms Rusher said.

"Here the prescribed fee is zero dollars and you can’t pay zero dollars."

She said the kiosks and surrounding signs indicated payment was necessary, and that the concept of something being free was not limited to a dollar amount; it also meant no restrictions or complications.

"A reasonable ordinary person would not understand that you needed to enter a plate," Ms Rusher said.

Prosecutor Michael Morris said the system was called "pay by plate" and it was apparent citizens needed to enter their number plate into the kiosk in order to park.

He acknowledged that since Auto Repossessions’ infringement notice, the council had changed the kiosk display wording to give clearer instructions.

"The council always welcomes the opportunity to have its bylaws challenged like this, so it can improve."

The justices of the peace ruled the bylaw did not specify a requirement to activate a parking meter.

They accepted the defence case and dismissed the charge.