Under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, local traffic authorities may make regulations (secondary legislation which is made by a power conferred on a body by parliament) in relation to roads in its area.
The orders, known as traffic regulation orders (TRO), can make any provision prohibiting, restricting or regulating the use of a road or any part of a road if the local authority considers it expedient to make the order for the purpose of avoiding danger to persons or other traffic using the road, preventing damage to the road or property (and other reasons). RTRA 1984 s 2(1)
Primarily, these are concerned with speed limits, overtaking, weight of vehicles, parking, one-way streets etc but can extend to just about anything. There is even an entire Part of the 1984 Act dedicated to bollards.
It is an offence to contravene a traffic regulation order RTRA 1984 s 5 and this is where it begins to get interesting. But only a little. We are talking about road traffic law here.
The BBC reported that some of the speed limits imposed on the roads in Hertfordshire were unenforceable due to a ‘paperwork error’.
We don’t know the specific order(s) or the nature of the error so it is impossible to know the reason for it, who is to blame or how many people may have been unlawfully fined for breach of a non-existent offence.
The result is that motorists may have been issued with fixed penalty notices purported to be issued as a result of a breach of a locally imposed speed limit, whereas no such offence exists. What is the likely outcome if a motorist has been fined in such a circumstance? Well unsurprisingly this has happened before. In 2008, fines were refunded (unfortunately without interest as I understand it) in a similar situation in Luton.
If anyone has any more details, do let us know and we will take a closer look into it.
The authority said it was ‘”working with police to establish what the implications might be for people who have been penalised for speeding where a traffic order is identified as potentially open to challenge”.
Hertfordshire Police said: “The police have various powers in addition to those specifically relating to speeding which will be used appropriately and proportionately to tackle anti-social driving.”
So even if it isn’t technically an offence to speed on a particular road, there are other offences under which you may be guilty. So drive safely.