Sunday, 22 September 2013

POPLA show institutional bias by suspending case for parking company to submit more evidence...but cock up dates

[Update; the motorist has been in touch with the Prankster to correct some factual errors. The debt collector letter referred to earlier was for another ticket issued by Secure-a-Space and one where the operator has currently refused to accept that the motorists representations were an appeal. This may well turn into another blog entry...]

The Parking Prankster has been given permission by the motorist concerned to publicise POPLA's latest cock up.

The motorist appealed to POPLA, with one of the appeal grounds being that he was not the driver. The operator's evidence stated that this does not matter if the conditions of POFA 2012 have been satisfied, because they can pursue the registered keeper instead. Crucially, they provided no evidence to POPLA that they had in fact satisfied the conditions of POFA 2012.

This should have been a cut and dried case, with the motorist's appeal upheld by POPLA. No evidence, no case to answer! If the ball had been on the other foot, POPLA would have immediately ruled on behalf of the operator. Here is their statement on the matter from their web site:
The Assessor will not obtain evidence or contact witnesses on your behalf.
Incredibly, the assessor adjourned the case and wrote to the operator asking them to provide more details, asking the operator to either provide evidence who the driver was, or evidence that they had followed the requirements of POFA 2012 correctly. The case was adjourned for 14 days for this to happen. He also asked the motorist to name the driver.

The Prankster considers that POPLA is not behaving in an independent manner by doing this, and is in fact showing institutional bias towards the parking operators.The Prankster notes as one of many 'for instances' that his own appeal was turned down because a witness statement proving the car was 'elsewhere' did not state where 'elsewhere' was. In the Prankster's case, the assessor did not adjourn the case to ask for clarification, but ruled on behalf of the operator.

At this point the case descends into high farce. The assessor suspended the case until the 24th July. However, apparently forgetting this, he reassessed the case one day early on 23rd July, finding in favour of the motorist because the operator did not supply any evidence.

The transcript is produced here:
23 July 2013
Reference: 731xxx3xxx
A Motorist (Appellant)
Secure-A-Space (Operator)
The Assessor considered the evidence of both parties and determined that the appeal be allowed.
The Assessor’s reasons are as set out.
The Operator should now cancel the parking charge notice forthwith.
Reasons for the Assessor’s Determination
 Ordinarily, liability for a parking charge rests with the person driving at the time of the alleged breach. In his initial representations, the Appellant stated “I wasn’t the driver at the time the car was parked”.
The Operator, declining the Appellant’s initial representations, responded:
“Whether you claim to be the driver or not does not change the process we follow with unpaid Parking Charge Notices. We may request the registered keeper details from the DVLA once time to pay has expired. The registered keeper must then either provide details of the driver or accept responsibility for the Parking Charge Notice themselves.”
The Operator outlined its position accurately. Where a parking charge notice is issued to a vehicle, but the driver’s identity and current postal address remain unforthcoming, an operator may recover the parking charge from the vehicle’s registered keeper. To do so, an operator must issue a Notice to Keeper in accordance with paragraph 8 of Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
The Appellant appealed to POPLA on various grounds, including the issue that the Operator did not have the driver’s details. The appeal was adjourned on 10 July 2013 until 24 July 2013 for either party to provide the driver’s details or, in the case of the Operator, to show that the registered keeper was liable.
The Appellant responded by declining to provide the driver’s details. The Operator did not respond.
Accordingly, in the absence of the driver’s details, the Operator has not established that the registered keeper is liable for the parking charge as required by the aforementioned act.
I must therefore allow the appeal on this ground.
It therefore does not fall for me to consider any remaining issues.
Matthew Shaw
The whole situation is a shambles and still has not ended. The operator is hopping mad at POPLA because they did in fact produce their evidence at the last minute on 24 July. The operator is demanding that the case be re-opened. This is a violation of the BPA Ltd code of practice.

The motorist has complained to the BPA Ltd, but they appear to have missed the point that the operator has not accepted POPLA's verdict, (despite being a massive cock up by POPLA, the code of conduct does not allow the operator to appeal). They brushed off the complaint, thanking the motorist for his help in driving up standards in the parking industry.

No doubt this will all be resolved soon. The Prankster believes that since POPLA had no right to adjourn the case anyway, and were certainly colluding with the parking company by trying to trick the motorist into naming the driver, that they should uphold the appeal. The Prankster also believes the BPA Ltd should re-open this case and investigate further why the operators has not cancelled the charge after POPLA ruled on behalf of the motorist.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

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