A Rotorua businesswoman is vowing to fight an eight-year-old $42 parking ticket as a matter of principle.
Maree Tassell has been summonsed to appear in court for an eight-year-old parking ticket she says she knew nothing about.
She is fighting it — not because she can't afford the $42.67 — but because she says it's intimidating getting such letters in the mail.
In March 2013, Tassell got a parking ticket in Whakatāne.
She told the Rotorua Daily Post Weekend she did not remember getting the ticket but said it was highly likely it was hers because she had had parking tickets before.
Her usual process was to pay them over the phone with her credit card whenever she got a notice in the mail.
However, she said she never received a notice for this ticket and the first she heard of it was on June 11 this year when she was summonsed to appear in court and ordered to pay.
The letter warns if she fails to do so, the next step is a warrant will be issued for her arrest.
Tassell, a property investment company director, said the ticket was for a vehicle that was registered to her business, Koru Limited.
Tassell said around that time she moved house so any enforcement letter was probably not forwarded on.
However, she said her company's new address was easily found online in the months that followed and she questioned why no one from the Ministry of Justice looked it up until now.
After receiving her summons in June, she rang the court and told them she would dispute the ticket on the grounds it was eight years ago and she wasn't informed.
She also queried it under the Statute of Limitations.
"I'm a law-abiding citizen and I always pay promptly. Their system is so antiquated and I bet I'm not the only person this has happened to. I could have paid then and there because it's only $42 and part of me wants to do that but a lot of people would be really intimidated by a letter like this ... It's the principle of the matter."
She said she disputed the ticket in writing but received a reply on July 1 saying
her dispute was declined on the grounds that a reminder notice was sent to the registered address of her company in May 2013 - which at that point had not been changed online.
Tassell told the Rotorua Daily Post Weekend she believed there was no attempt in the past eight years to check again for her company address.
She said she was told on the phone by the courts she was being summonsed now because the court's computer system had recently been updated.
Tassell said she had spoken to a police officer and Justice of the Peace who advised her to book in for a court hearing date next week, which she intended doing.
It appeared the $42.67 fine imposed included costs, she said.
"My argument is this is a waste of valuable court hearing time for far more serious matters."
Tassell also said she wanted her day in court and then would consider her legal options if the hearing did not go in her favour.
The Rotorua Daily Post Weekend asked the Ministry of Justice a series of questions including why a summons was sent more than eight years later if the ministry's computer system had recently been updated, was it usual practice and whether the Statute of Limitations would apply.
In a written statement, ministry acting national service delivery group manager Jo Twist said the ministry was unable to provide specific information relating to Tassell's case because it was court information.
Twist said generally speaking if an infringement was not paid to the issuing authority by the due date, it was transferred to the court and became a fine.
She said fines didn't "go away" or "expire" due to elapsed time.
"Even in cases where the fine was imposed some time ago, if it remains unpaid, the court will contact the individual or organisation where possible to seek payment.
"While the court does make efforts to contact individuals or organisations with outstanding fines in a timely manner, this is not always possible, for example, if there are outdated or incorrect contact details, such as an older address."
Twist said when the court did not have up-to-date contact details for people or organisations with outstanding fines, it attempts to find details through multiple avenues.
"New information is constantly added to the system used by the court in the collection of outstanding fines and reparation, however the system itself has not undergone any recent updates."
Twist said the role of the court in the collection process was to collect fines on behalf of the Crown. An individual or organisation can apply to dispute the filing of the infringement in court, so that it can be returned to the prosecuting authority which issued the infringement where it can then be disputed directly.
She said in a situation where the address on the registration on a vehicle was not up to date at the time of the offence, an individual would not meet the criteria set by legislation to successfully dispute the filing of the infringement on the grounds they didn't receive notice of the fine.