The Parking Prankster has been passed a case report from a BMPA lay representative regarding a Devere claim in Bournemouth.
The Prankster has searched the internet for other cases, but can find no other wins. This may therefore be the first time Devere have lost on their home turf - although of course it is possible that they have lost other cases which have not been reported.
Devere's case was that a ticket had been issued for non display of permit, as per the signage.
The BMPA representative started the defence by questioning Devere's right of audience on the grounds that Devere was acting as agent of the landowner, and the landowner was not present. The judge, DJ Williams, ruled that as the claim was in the name of Devere there was no problem. The BMPA representative further argued that as the Devere representative was not a director and had no letter of authorisation he did not have standing. The judge ruled it was possible that he had oral permission.
The BMPA representative then mentioned that following a case against Devere earlier in the week he had since looked up ownership of the car park on the Land Registry, and that it was not owned by the parties to the contract. The land was owned by Key Properties Investment No 4. This company was 100% owned by Key Properties Investment. This company was 50% owned by St Modwen Properties, and 50% owned by a Saudi prince. The BPMA representative explained that for example if he himself owned land this did not mean his father, grandfather or daughter could use it without written permission, and the same applied to companies.
Devere argued that is was highly likely that St Modwen did have permissions in place, given that they were a billion pound company and would therefore know what they were doing.
The BMPA representative argued that this did not follow and without evidence showing the chain of authority that Key Properties 4 allowed Key Properties who allowed St Modwen to sign on their behalf, there was no evidence Devere could carry out car parking operations.
Thus, without written evidence the claim must fail.
The judge explained that the situation was even worse and that the claim would fail anyway even with permission because the contract was not in the name of the landowner. St Modwen could theoretically have permission to sign the contract, but even if they did, they would have to sign on behalf of the landowner, not themselves.
He dismissed the claim and awarded costs of £90 for loss of earnings and £3 for Land Registry fees.
Devere asked if the judge would order that the result be kept confidential, as otherwise this would appear on the Parking Prankster's blog to Devere's detriment. Judge Williams explained that it was not within his power to make such an order as the case was held in open court.
The BMPA representative explained that it no doubt would appear on the Prankster's blog, but that as Devere had conducted themselves with decorum in the case, (Prankster - unlike, for instance the typical behaviour of ParkingEye representatives who are happy to win at all costs and mislead the court wherever possible) this would no doubt be represented in the write up. In any case, Devere would have the right of reply the Prankster affords to all parking companies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the hearing the Devere representative stated he was horrified that he had trusted a large company to get things right, and that he would be going round to remove the signage immediately. The BMPA representative also gave helpful advice on how to proceed in future and the steps he might want to take to make parking control legitimate.
It is encouraging that Devere are taking immediate steps to put things right. Any parking charges paid at Discovery Court may well be unlawful and motorists should claim them back from Devere and possible St Modwen Properties.
It is not so encouraging that Devere has been audited by the DVLA and the BPA who failed to pick up on this. The Prankster wonders if the audits are largely a rubber stamping operation with no great diligence shown to investigate potential issues.
This also demonstrates that that POPLA's habit of allowing landowner witness statements instead of contracts, and the IPC's refusal to allow sight of any evidence are both fundamentally unsound. Without sight of the contract the motorist is unable to point out the flaws.
It is also necessary for the contract to be unredacted - one only needs to note how ParkingEye misled HHJ Moloney in the Beavis and Wardley case into thinking they were acting as principal by redacting the parts that showed they were acting as agents. If a senior judge can be fooled in the most high profile parking case for years this shows how careful the courts need to be.
The Parking Prankster