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All parking fines issued between 2003 and 2010 ‘illegal’
Belgium’s Constitutional Court has ruled that part of a federal law that transferred the authority to issue parking tickets to the municipalities goes against the Belgian constitutional system, reports Flanders News. This could mean that countless parking tickets issued by municipalities between 2003 and 2010 are invalid. People could even demand their money back, some experts say, though not all agree. The case began a couple of years ago when a man in Torhout, West Flanders, was given a parking ticket and took the matter to a local police court. He argued that the municipality did not have the authority to issue parking tickets. The local magistrate passed the matter to the Constitutional Court, which has now decided that part of a federal law going back to 2003 goes against the Belgian Constitution. In 2003, lawmakers decided to take the matter of parking offences away from criminal law, which meant municipalities were given the authority to issue parking fines. However, federal lawmakers didn’t have the authority to make that decision – it needed to have been made by regional lawmakers. In 2010, the Flemish Region put matters in order, but there remains a problem with fines issued between 2003 and 2010. Experts don’t agree about the exact consequences of the latest ruling by the Constitutional Court. Michel Maus, a financial law professor, argues that this means all parking fines issued during that period are illegal. Those who have received a penalty can demand their money back, he claims. However, Frank Meerschaut of the Constitutional Court press service claims the ruling does not automatically imply that all parking fines issued between 2003 and 2010 are illegal.