ULEZ: TfL rebuts claims fines were issued to EU drivers illegally by collections agent

A Belgian court bailiff acting for TfL’s collections company has been accused of illegally obtaining drivers' details and passing them on to issue ULEZ fines.
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Transport for London (TfL) has denied claims that thousands of EU drivers may have been unlawfully sent Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) fines by a collections agent.

The Guardian has reported that the Belgian ministry for transport has opened an investigation into alleged criminal breaches of data rules in connection to the charges sent to drivers of EU-registered vehicles.

Brexit rules have meant UK authorities are not able to access personal data of EU citizens for non-criminal enforcement. A Belgian court bailiff, acting for TfL’s collections company Euro Parking Collection (EPC), is accused of illegally obtaining more than 20,000 details of drivers, and passing them on to EPC to be used to issue the ULEZ fines.

According to TfL, since the Belgian National Chamber of Judicial Officers issued a notice on March 23 this year stopping data being shared with companies which would then pass it on to foreign authorities, no Belgian details have been handed over EPC or TfL.

The ULEZ was first introduced to central London in 2019, and was most recently expanded to cover the whole of the city in August this year. Credit:  Leon Neal/Getty Images.The ULEZ was first introduced to central London in 2019, and was most recently expanded to cover the whole of the city in August this year. Credit:  Leon Neal/Getty Images.
The ULEZ was first introduced to central London in 2019, and was most recently expanded to cover the whole of the city in August this year. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images.

A spokesperson for the authority claimed EPC’s partner in Belgium has only shared information with them when legal to do so.

They said: “Any company working on our behalf is contractually required to ensure that data is processed in line with the relevant data protection legislation and no Belgian driver data has been shared with us or EPC since the ruling by the Belgian National Chamber of Judicial Officers came into effect.”

Data published by the Liberal Democrats earlier this month revealed that last year 167,663 ULEZ fines were issued to vehicles registered outside of the UK.

Of these, 30,520 have been cancelled, at a cost estimated at £4.98 million, and 22,095 have been paid, leaving 115,048 unresolved. TfL confirmed the total fee owed by foreign drivers from 2022 is £11.85m.

Commenting on the data, Lib Dem London assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said: “It is worrying to see the extent of fines being issued to motorists entering London from the European Union.

“It is very clear that visitors are not being given clear information in advance of entering London and are then being faced with vigorous efforts to collect fines they had not been aware of.

“This information is clearly not being communicated well enough with ferry companies and Eurotunnel.

“If this issue is not solved it risks doing serious damage to London’s image as being open to visitors.”