Saturday, 4 January 2014

VCS spanked in court as motorist and judge show commonsense approach to breakdown

The Parking Prankster's attention was caught by this thread on the moneysavingexpert site which tells the tale of a pensioner who broke down at Liverpool Airport.

Liverpool Airport do not like motorists stopping to let passengers on or off on their roads, and Vehicle Control Systems have the contract to enforce this. In this case the motorist's car briefly broke down. The motorist reported it like this.
"the car coasted to a halt after engine stopped responding to accelerator peddle so we had no control of what was happening and then having to pull over to side of road but after a 30 second stop a time of stop given by VCS we managed to get car to respond and moved off."
VCS have a mobile car and operative who photograph stopped vehicles so the registered keeper duly received a charge notice in the post. The keeper appealed to VCS, explaining the car was broken down. VCS rejected the appeal. The keeper appealed to POPLA, explaining the car was broken down. POPLA strangely rejected this appeal; being broken down is a legitimate reason for appealing council parking tickets, and of course it is an event completely out of the motorists control.

The keeper felt strongly about the rights of wrongs of the situation and refused to pay without a court ruling. VCS duly took the keeper to court, and the keepers sole defence was that the vehicle was broken down.

At the hearing the judge asked the VCS representative what he would do if he accepted the vehicle had broken down. The VCS representative said that he would drop the case.

"Well I do accept the motorist broke down," said the Judge. "Case dismissed!"

This case is interesting for several reasons.

Firstly, it establishes that in some circumstances, breaking down is a valid legal reason for not having to pay a charge.

Secondly, it shows that the small claims court is not always about knowing legal arguments and case law. No doubt there are valid legal reasons for the decision, but the keeper did not need to know what they were and quote the appropriate case law. The keeper just laid out the facts in a believable fashion and let the judge apply the law. No doubt this was risky; but on the other hand other cases have shown there is not necessarily consistency over legal arguments in the small claims court either.

Happy Parking


  1. That's as embarrassing as the toothbrush case. :-) VCS must have regretted spending their £25!!

  2. This restores my faith in the small-claims court. On too many occasions (especially in private parking cases) you have the "small man", probably on their own, up against a parking company's legal representative. The parking company presents a mountain of paperwork and tries to bamboozle the court with a lot or irrelevant case law. Unfortunately too many times the judge gets taken in by this and finds against the motorist. In this case, the judge used his common sense and rightly ruled for the motorist.

  3. I hope they also were awarded costs.

  4. The motorist did not ask for any costs. They are retired and traveled to their local court using their bus-pass.