The small claims track can be a lottery, with judges ruling differently from day to day and court to court. Even the Prankster has lost one case (although this is currently scheduled for an appeal hearing and so no more will be said at the present time).
The Prankster heard today of the sad tale of a lady who lost her case against Premier Parking for a £100 parking charge.
Even though the lady had a strong case the parking company won. They enlisted the help of a barrister which is a bit like rolling out the Brazilian football team against Chippenham Town FC.
What is inexplicable is that the judge (as well as the £100 charge) also awarded £355 costs against the defendant. In the small claims track costs are strictly limited, and normally would be capped at £50 solicitor filing fee, £25 court filing fee and £25 court hearing fee. Extra costs are normally not allowed unless the defendant acted unreasonably, so to add another £255 is unusual.
The Prankster has seen the lady's defence, which is strong, contains elements which have won in similar cases and references to those cases. At the present time it is therefore not clear why the judge thought the defendant acted unreasonably or why she allowed the extra costs.
The moral of the story is to try and nip parking charges in the bud by appealing to the parking company and then POPLA, where correctly worded appeals currently always win if the charge is for breach of contract. If the case goes to court follow practice directions as closely as you can to avoid being accused of acting unreasonably. Finally, do your research on your local court. Some courts regularly rule in favour of parking companies, while others rule against.
The Parking Prankster