Caroline Sheppard OBE to retire as Traffic Penalty Tribunal Chief Adjudicator
Caroline Sheppard OBE will retire as Chief Adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) in March 2022.
A reformer by nature, her long and illustrious career has been characterised by the understanding that adjudication is not a standalone exercise, but a barometer to assess the effectiveness, impact or proportionality of civil enforcement. The observations and outcomes of appeals becoming the building blocks for driving change.
Consequently, Sheppard has led the conversation on parking and traffic enforcement and appeals over the last three decades, while being at the forefront of how the operating landscape has been shaped. She was appointed as Chief Adjudicator for London in 1992 and was instrumental in the creation of the adjudication service for the first civil parking and traffic appeals. This was followed in 1999 when, as the newly appointed Chief Adjudicator of what was then the National Parking Adjudication Service (later to become the TPT), Sheppard oversaw the creation of an adjudication scheme for England (outside London) and Wales for over 300 local authorities commencing civil parking and traffic enforcement. The local authorities make up the Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London (PATROL) Joint Committee.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council and Chair of PATROL said: ‘On behalf of all the members of PATROL, I’d like to thank Caroline for her diligence and hard work. She has been a true inspiration to us all, as well as an innovator of online dispute resolution and a true digital champion.’
Sheppard’s tenure at the TPT has been typified by the user-focused digital transformation of the organisation – a process of which she has been the driving force. The Tribunal now sees over 35,000 appeals a year, decided by just 24 part-time Adjudicators supported by a small administrative team, all working remotely. This effective model has ensured the TPT has been able to scale up for new civil enforcement schemes, such as the recent arrival of Clean Air Zones, while being well-placed to adapt to other operating challenges, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
At the centre of Sheppard’s successful leadership of the Tribunal have been the development of the TPT’s award-winning, end-to-end online appeals management system and associated ‘digital-first’ internal processes. This innovation has facilitated increased workloads and accelerated outcomes, transforming the accessibility, transparency and velocity of the appeals experience for all users, while significantly reducing costs for the TPT and respondent authorities. The appeals management system has been held up as a world-class example of online dispute resolution by senior members of the judiciary, leading academics and commentators. Professor Richard Susskind, the world’s most cited author on the future of legal services, has described the TPT as having ‘the longest standing online public dispute resolution system’ having been developed ‘under the inspiring leadership of Caroline Sheppard’.
Laura Padden, Director of PATROL said: ‘Caroline has been at the helm of the TPT for the entirety of my own career in the industry. She has overseen the transformation of the Tribunal, developing a world-leading and technologically advanced service that makes justice accessible to everyone. It has been a privilege to work with her and benefit from her vast knowledge and wisdom.’
Sheppard was awarded an OBE for services to motorists in the summer of 2017, later receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the parking and traffic industry. Many of the Adjudicators Sheppard has appointed have gone on to hold high judicial office. Sheppard is a Member of the Administrative Justice Council and the Council of ‘Justice’, the all-party law reform and human rights organisation.
Marc Samways, Highway Manager, Hampshire County Council and Chair of the PATROL Advisory Board, said: ‘Caroline has been an outstanding servant to the TPT for many years. Her extensive expertise and knowledge will make finding a suitable and worthy replacement a very difficult challenge.’
Recruitment for Sheppard’s successor as Chief Adjudicator will commence in late Autumn, with an appointment expected to be made before Christmas. Sheppard will remain in post until 31 March 2022, following a handover period.