Nelson District Court hears council claim against lawyer over parking fines

The case arose from a broken parking meter

Nelson District Court hears council claim against lawyer over parking fines

The Nelson District Court has heard a claim filed by the Nelson City Council against a local lawyer over parking fines, reported the NZ Herald.

A former director and now consultant at Stallard Law, Tony Stallard faced two charges for being unable to display a parking permit. The council alleged that he parked his car near a broken parking meter at the Buxton Square carpark on two occasions in September and October 2023 and didn’t pay the requisite fees.

The council maintained that the onus was on Stallard to locate a functioning meter, as per standard procedure. A parking warden slapped Stallard with a $40 infringement fee for each instance wherein he did not pay the parking charge.

Stallard represented himself before the court as a “pensioner” and argued against the council’s parking bylaw. He pointed to the lack of evidence from the company that had been contracted by the council to provide and run the machines utilising the electronic, paperless parking system.

Outside the courtroom, Stallard expressed to NZME that he had no problem paying the necessary parking and infringement fees, but he had a problem with the “the arrogance of the approach”.

"I was apparently being difficult when I said everything was an issue, and obstructive to want to defend something when their machine was not working", Stallard said in a statement published by the Herald.

Stallard also questioned whether the parking wardens who issued the fines were appropriately warranted to enforce the parking bylaw. During cross-examination, the wardens testified that the nearest functional meter to Stallard's parking spot was approximately 50 metres away, with a total of five machines available within the carpark. A warden also confirmed that council policy stipulated that when faced with a nonfunctional meter, one was to locate an alternative machine.

Stallard delved into the procedures for monitoring and addressing faults with meters. A warden responded in a statement published by the Herald that such information was "above his pay grade" but explained that when a meter was reported as non-functional, the third-party contractor responsible for the meters was contacted directly.

Stallard sought evidence that the infringement fees were tied to him parking in Buxton Square; however, city council environmental officer Brian Wood argued that it would cause delays in the proceedings.  

"We would then have to prove the wardens are who they are, and that would mean we’d have to call their mothers to prove they gave birth to them", Wood said in a statement published by the Herald.

Wood asserted that the council had provided evidence that documented the date, location, issuer of the notices and the identity of the vehicle's owner. He said that the case simply involved Stallard not paying the parking fees and that “the issues outside this are not relevant and should not be allowed to be introduced”.

Stallard concluded his argument with an assertion that the council had not supplied evidence to support the accuracy of the parking system’s operation. Justice of the Peace David Whyte adjourned the case until the end of May, stating that a ruling regarding the proving of the charges would require some time to deliberate.

The Buxton Square carpark allows a three-hour parking limit at the rate of $2 per hour. The first hour of parking is free provided the vehicle’s registration number is entered into the pay-by-plate system.

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