[Update. The BPA sent an email on this matter to members in July 2013]
There is now an established two tier system of parking enforcement going on in the private parking sector - PoFA 2012 and non-PoFA. In the former, the registered keeper becomes liable for legitimate parking charges in some circumstances. In the latter, only the driver can be held liable.
Some Operators act wholly outside the PoFA 2012 regime and can therefore only pursue drivers. Other operators sometimes use PoFA and at other times do not. Usually, they send the same parking notices for both regimes.
As there is such a enormous difference between the potential liabilities it is difficult for any individual to know how best to conduct their defence in any particular case. The motoring consumer is therefore at a distinct disadvantage as it is now a guessing game, not only as to whether the charge is damages or a contractual sum, but also whether it is under PoFa or not. The motoring consumer is also at a disadvantage when the Operator states that the claim is made under PoFA 2012, but the timescales suggest this may not be the case. Neither of the two trade bodies, the BPA or the IPC, have issued guidelines to their members on this issue or raised this in their code of conduct. However, the BPA has sent out an email to its members around July 2013 informing them that both themselves and the DVLA expect all notices to clearly state whether PoFA 2012 applies or not.
One of the best places for consumers to seek clarification is from the DVLA, who hold this information. The DLVA have a duty of care to the motorist that their data was released lawfully and that it is subsequently only used for the purposes in which it was released. In building their case, every motorist should therefore seek clarification from the DVLA that they have behaved responsibly and correctly.
The ideal situation would be for the DVLA to automatically contact the registered keeper every time their details are requested. This would be cheap, convenient, and can be entirely funded from the £2.50 fee the DVLA charge the Operators.
A second option, slightly less consumer friendly, but cheaper in the long term, would be for the DVLA to create a portal so that registered keepers can automatically access data on all parties who have requested their details. This would require more initial development by the DVLA, but could again be entirely funded by the Operators.
In the mean-time, neither of these solutions currently exist.
The best way to request this information is therefore to email the DVLA at FOI@dvla.gsi.gov.uk and politely request it. To save money for the DVLA it would make sense if these emails followed a common format so that the DVLA can quickly and easily recognise them, and can process them as cost-effectively as possible. This will be to the benefit of all parties, and will help drive up standards in private parking.
The Prankster has seen a template format which he thinks is to the point and sufficient for purpose and would therefore like to endorse this.
I refer to the attached parking charge notice that I recently received through the post, presumably courtesy of the DVLA releasing my data.
As your records will confirm I was the keeper at the date of the alleged parking contravention on private land.
I am currently in the process of preparing my challenge/appeal to this parking charge and wish to satisfy myself that the DVLA exercised its duty of care to me by acting both fairly and lawfully when the decision was taken to release my data.
I would be grateful therefore if you would address the following matters;
1) What was the specific purpose that the parking company applied for my data, was it for PoFA or non-PoFA purposes?
2) If it is was for PoFA does the attached Notice to Keeper fully comply with the statutory requirements of Sch 4.
3) What does the parking charge represent, is it damages for loss or a contractual sum?
4) Which actual company requested my data.
5) When was that data request submitted to the DVLA
6) When was my data released by the DVLA
7) If this was a manual request please provide me with a copy of the V888/3 that was submitted.
8) If this was an electronic request please provide me with the following;
(i) A copy of the contract between the DVLA and the requestor which allows EDI access.
(ii) A record of all of the DVLA audits of the requesting company.
I simply wish you to address the points I have raised and do not therefore require the standard DVLA 'lines' about data protection.
I do not expect to have to pay for this information - please acknowledge receipt within three days and a substantive response within 14 days (as I have limited time within which to appeal)
The Prankster welcomes constructive feedback on the letter and email address to use from all interested parties, such as the DVLA and the BPA, and can be contacted at the usual address.
Currently the best email address to use does seem to be FOI@dvla.gsi.gov.uk. Some of the staff manning this email address may not be fully informed of the current situation and may try and charge for this information.This should be politely resisted, and the request repeated until the result is forthcoming.
The Parking Prankster