by Dan Bloom
Every unpaid parking ticket issued under Shepway District Council's current rules could be deemed invalid after a recent ruling.
Folkestone resident Stephen Ivory took the council to a tribunal after he argued a ticket he was issued on March 21 was invalid.
The tribunal found it had been right to give him the ticket - but allowed his appeal on a loophole - which could apply to every driver issued with a ticket.
The technicality is in the Notice to Owner letter (NTO) which every driver receives if he or she has not paid up after 28 days.
As drivers must wait until after they are sent an NTO to appeal against their ticket, any mistake in the letter applies to every driver making an appeal.
The letter tells drivers they must pay within 28 days of the notice being delivered, but the tribunal ruled the start date had to be the date it was "served" - received by the owner - which must be a working day.
This means if an NTO is posted on Friday and arrives on Saturday, the 28-day period to appeal or pay up only begins on Monday.
The independent adjudicator at the tribunal, John Parker, said: "The confusion is an irremediable defect. The recipient must know precisely how to work out when a response is due."
The tribunal, held at the Ashford International Hotel, also found the letters were wrong to print "date notice posted" instead of "date of notice".
Mr Ivory was given his ticket while his wife was unloading the family car at their daughter's house. He said: "I'm not out to hang the council up in public, but I do want them to change their ways and accept they have been acting unlawfully. They are a statutory body and should be abiding by the law."
Shepway council did not reveal how long the standard letter has been in circulation but Mr Ivory has submitted a request to reveal that information.
A council statement said: "We are currently seeking legal advice over the decision and the wording of the NTO document."