Monday, 27 October 2014

Ransomes lose in court. Proserve business model flawed

[Update New figures received for claim awarded]

[Update. ParkingEye have asked for corrections to be made to this post. The Prankster has reviewed the text and accepts that the phrase 'it has been reported the hoax call was made by ParkingEye' should read 'it has been reported the hoax call was made by an associate of ParkingEye'.

The place where this was reported is here, as previously blogged.

To be fair to ParkingEye they also state 'this is not an admission that we agree with your other blog posts relating to ParkingEye.' and so the lack of change to other blog posts should not be taken that ParkingEye agree with The Prankster.]

As reported on pepipoo, on Friday 24 Octover 2014, HHJ Moloney sitting in the small claims appeal court in Norwich heard the appeal of Ransomes v Anderson.

Ransomes hire Proserve to patrol their business park and hand out trespass notices to drivers who stop in the road. Proserve invoice Ransomes between £150 and £250  for each vehicle they manage to photograph while stationary. Ransomes were suing Mr Anderson to recover this money for 10 minutes while he was parked on a double yellow line,

In his judgment HHJ Moloney rules that the signs Ransomes were relying on were gibberish, and could not form a contract with the motorist. However, he did rule that a trespass had occurred. He ruled there was no justification for charging £150 and invited counsels for both parties to agree on a figure.

Sadly Mr Anderson's counsel, with little experience of parking companies, could not persuasively argue that the average cost of processing the paperwork in such an event is around £20. This was established in ParkingEye v Beavis, where HHJ Moloney also presided. HHJ Moloney therefore plucked the figure of £60 out of the air for an initial fee, plus £37.50 to cover extra administration because Mr Anderson did not pay immediately. This total of £97.50 (discounted to £60) is the same as car parking companies charge - although of course Proserve is not a car parking company because if it were then it would not be able to get data from the DVLA unless it belonged to an ATA and ran a proper appeals service. In setting this fee, HHJ Moloney did not appear to take into account the fact that Proserve had already been paid for their services by the estate occupants and this was therefore double charging.

In a bizarre ruling, he also ordered Mr Anderson to pay half the appeal and transcript costs, totaling £570 (so £285 for Mr Anderson). Thus, even though Mr Anderson established Ransomes were not allowed to charge him £150, he still lost more money than if he had simply paid up. Such are the perils of the small claims court.

Prankster Analysis

This leaves Ransomes in a deep financial hole. According to Mr Duff of Proserve, there are more than 700 outstanding cases. Assuming these are all Ransomes cases (although Proserve does operate at other sites so they may not be)  then for each case Ransomes either owe or have paid Proserve at least £150, and yet can only reclaim at most £60 from motorists. This leaves them with a hole of £63,000 in their accounts.

Taking into account that motorists would actually have a good case for offering to settle for £20, then the hole may be as large as £91,000. As some drivers are charged £250, then the hole will be even larger. Meanwhile, Mr Duff of Proserve has continued ticketing since he declared 700 cases were outstanding, and so Ransomes plunge even deeper into debt to Proserve.

Meanwhile Ransomes will have shelled out around £5,000 to £10,000 for their counsel, and so this will put a serious dent in their cash at bank.


Proserve are not part of any parking trade associations, such as the IPC or BPA. They obtain driver details from the DVLA on the grounds of trespass. However, they set their fees at whatever they like, unrestricted by the £100 cap, are not bound by any code of practice, and provide no legitimate appeals service.

In light of the ruling, the DVLA might like to consider barring Proserve until they change their signage and reduce their fees, at least to £60, but ideally £20.

It is not yet known if the DVLA are aware of the court ruling.

Court Action

Report from the courtroom is that Mr Anderson's representative was outgunned by Ransomes barrister. He failed to bring to the attention of the judge the artificial nature of the financial arrangement between Proserve and Ransomes or the other dodgy practices.

At the start of the hearing HHJ Moloney reported he had received letters informing him that Mr Duff of Proserve was under investigation for conducting illegal litigation. He stated he would not comment on this and it would not impact the current hearing.

He also said he had a request to tweet, but in light of the Cambridge hearing he would refuse this. He also stated he was still unaware of who made the prank call.

HHJ Moloney must now be the only person in the country who does not know it has been reported the hoax call was made by an associate of ParkingEye. Additionally, they are both the only people with a motive and the only people who knew enough about the case to make a fool of their own barrister, Mr Altaras.

ParkingEye's motive was that HHJ Moloney refused to change the date of the hearing so they could use their preferred barrister, Jonathan Kirk QC. After the adjournment, Mr Kirk was available for the new hearing date.

The Prankster suggests that HHJ Moloney contact Rachel Ledson, head of legal of ParkingEye, who is fully aware of all available information regarding the hoax phone call and of the names of the two people arrested.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. How can the cost of the appeal be around £500? The appeal fee is £120, then some money for the judgement transcript (say £70) and a hearing fee of say £80 - what was the rest for? Costs of attending the hearing would have arisen on both sides so should cancel out, and any other costs are not allowed on the Small Claims Track?

  2. Proserve will have to add Vat at 20% to their £150 charges as they are providing a Vatable service to Ransomes. However, since Ransomes are issuing claims for damages, they cannot recover the Vat charged by Proserve. The "black hole" is likely to get bigger

  3. Maloney has gone down a peg or two in my estimation.
    The toothbrush waving judge has got this one all wrong.
    1st there could be no actual trespass where the road is otherwise unrestricted, ungated and is part of the road system for vehicles visiting the premises on the estate. So what if a driver has to stop to consult his delivery documents to find an actual address? Snap, gotcha.

    Then the amounts of damages MUST be relative to the loss sustained by the landowner. Proserve's dodgy contract with the landowner doesn't form any realistic basis of loss. The landowner would suffer no loss at all if he sacked Proserve. The landowner is therefore complicit in bringing a loss on itself. In the overall nature of these things, where a loss can be prevented (as in the famous Wickes case where Maloney waved the toothbrush around) then inaction to prevent it should rule out any damages from being awarded.

    He got it badly wrong here.

    1. You may want to read up on the facts of the case. The driver didn't simply stop to look for the way (which I agree would not be trespass) but he intentionally parked there for 10min whilst doing some other things. It is clear that there was trespass in this instance and I believe the defendant also actually agreed to this. However, I agree with you, I would have preferred to see only nominal damages because apart from the self-inflicted "costs to Proserve" there are no damages to the landowner. But this needs to be read in conjuncture with HHJ Moloney's drive to make parking penalty charges legal, so he picked a number which sits comfortably in what ParkingEye charges for similar cases. Judicial activism rather than applying the clear current law? You be the judge of that ;)

    2. From Wiki:
      Jus tertii is where the defendant can prove that the land is not possessed by the plaintiff, but by a third party, as in Doe d Carter v Barnard.
      Ransomes possess the land, nor Proserve. They act only as a company to enforce their own peculiar arrangements with the landowner. They do not have landowner status so can't use trespass to serve their own ends.

  4. Moloney (and no, I won't do the forelock tugging) does seem insistent on ruling on purely what's put in front of him in the instant case, even when he knows or should know better.

    If he's feigning ignorance of Parking Eye's pranks, or wants to invent some fantasy alternative culprit, that's taking the law a blindfold too far.

    1. I believe that a judge is limited to adjudicate on what is put in front of him rather than on hearsay or personal experience. Nothing wrong with this.