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Parking supervisor's decision was not based on due consideration

Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin criticises the decision of the City of Vantaa’s parking supervisor by which the supervisor rejected the complainant’s claim for a revised decision regarding a parking fine, regardless of the fact that the claimant had presented an attending physician’s certificate stating that the claimant was unable to move the car.
 
The complainant had been unexpectedly hospitalised and the attending physician had provided the person with a certificate for the Parking Supervision. According to the certificate, the claimant was unable to move his car. The parking supervisor, who no longer works for the City of Vantaa, found the said certificate insufficient. According to the parking supervisor, the claimant could have paid the parking fee by using a mobile phone. 
 
- If a physician unexpectedly orders a person to stay in hospital for observation due to his state of health, it would be unreasonable to require the person to ensure that a parking fee is paid or their car is moved without delay, Sakslin said.
 
By virtue of the act on court fees (Tuomioistuinmaksulaki 1455/2015), appealing against a parking supervisor’s decision to an administrative court may incur a court fee of EUR 250. According to the Deputy-Ombudsman, the said fee effectively restricts customers’ appeals. This in turn emphasises the importance of the principles of legality that guide parking supervisors’ discretionary powers.
 
According to the parking supervisor’s statement, the supervisor did not consider the claimant’s situation as unforeseeable, regardless of the certificate provided by the physician. According to the Deputy-Ombudsman, the parking supervisor used his discretionary powers in a way other than intended by the law. Neither did the parking supervisor take account of the principle of proportionality in his assessment, i.e. whether affirming the parking fine was reasonable in the complainant's situation. The parking supervisor did not consider the complainant’s legitimate expectations, since the attending physician's certificate stated that the complainant was unable to move his car.
 
The complainant had not appealed against the parking supervisor’s decision regarding the claim for a revised decision in the manner prescribed by law, i.e. by appealing to an administrative court. Considering the division of competencies between independent courts and the supreme overseer of legality, the Ombudsman cannot substitute for or complement the statutory appeals system. Thus, the Ombudsman cannot cancel or change decisions made by the authorities. For this reason, the Deputy-Ombudsman brought her views regarding the principles of legality, which form part of good governance and guide public authorities’ discretionary powers, to the attention of the City of Vantaa’s new parking supervisor.
 
Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin asked the City of Vantaa to consider whether it should compensate the complainant for the parking supervisor’s misjudgment, by repaying the parking fine imposed on the claimant. The City must inform the Deputy-Ombudsman of its decision by 31 December 2018.
 
The full text (in Finnish) of Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin’s decision (EOAK 4825/2017) is available on the Ombudsman's website, www.oikeusasiamies.fi/.
 
For more information, please contact Principal Legal Adviser Ulla-Maija Lindström, tel. +358 9 432 3355.