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Title: Am I liable for my friend's bus lane penalty?

Date: 14 August 2014

Question

I lent a friend of my mine my bike, (I added him to my insurance etc.) and he rode in a bus lane resulting in me being issued with a penalty notice.

I gave his details to the local authority but they will not communicate with him. They state that I must pay as I am the registered owner. I have appealed this now and have one more appeal to go but the cost gets bigger each time.

The authority accepts that I was not riding the bike but say I must sue my friend for the money. Have I any defence against this as they accept that I was not riding the bike?

Thanks

Mr A Glen

Answer

It is a common misconception that penalty notices are enforced against the person that had control of the vehicle at the time. Whilst this may be the case in certain circumstances, penalty charges incurred in respect of bus lane contraventions are payable by the owner of the vehicle. The owner will not however be liable to pay the fine if the vehicle was subject to a hire agreement or if the person had control of the vehicle without your consent.

Having regard to this, it seems unlikely that the penalty will be cancelled or that the local authority will look to pursue your friend instead. You will however be entitled to recover the cost of the fine from your friend.

Alternatively, you may be able to appeal the decision based on other grounds, e.g. if your friend was in the bus lane at a time when it was otherwise open for use by motorcyclists. There are many different grounds for an appeal against a penalty notice and it may be that additional information from your friend may offer you an alternative basis to pursue the appeal.

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