Sunday, 30 November 2014

Patrick Troy admits private parking charges are penalties

This article in the Sunday Times discusses the appeal services offered by The article is also discussed on MSE here.

Patrick Troy, CEO of the British Parking Association Limited,  expressed his views on the situation.
There is a danger with these websites because they make people believe that they can get them off parking tickets, but if they did park in the wrong place, then they should pay the penalty." 
Under UK Law, only the Government can impose penalties, and herein lies the problem with many private parking charges. The doctrine of penalties in UK Law provides that if a contract is breached, the aggrieved party has a right to be put back in the position they would have been in had no breach occurred. Over the last few years, parking companies have revealed to POPLA and the courts that their average cost per ticket issued is around £20. They are therefore shooting themselves in the foot by charging £100. This immediately establishes the charge is a penalty and therefore makes it unenforceable in law.

This is the basis on which the ParkingTicketAppeals works. Private parking companies can therefore immediately make their charges enforceable by reducing the charges to around £20. This would cause services like ParkingTicketAppeals  to go out of business.

The BPA previous required its members to comply with the usual interpretation of the law. Its code of practice stated that all charges must be a genuine pre-estimate of loss. However, most of its members flagrantly disobeyed that requirement. Large numbers of complaints were received from motorists regarding this, but not a single sanction point  was issued for breaching this rule. Instead, the BPA changed the code of practice to remove the requirement. The new code requires that charges are 'commercially justified'.

The Parking industry is attempting to get the interpretation of the law changed, and there is a test case due to be held in February 2015 in the court of appeal; ParkingEye v Beavis. The Parking industry will be arguing that there will be parking chaos if the interpretation is not changed, and that although it only costs them around £20 per ticket issued, they must charge £85 to introduce a deterrent.

The Prankster would point the court of appeal to the following facts.

1. £16 appears to be a sufficient deterrent. ParkingTicketAppeals state they get very little repeat business
2. Scotland, where the law is different because only the driver is liable, does not have parking chaos
3. There was not parking chaos in England and Wales before the law changed in October 2012
4. There is not parking chaos in other countries
5. There are parking companies which charge £20 per ticket and who run a thriving business. It is therefore not necessary to charge £85 to have a viable business, and to provide sufficient deterrent to stop motorists transgressing.

Prankster note

As previously reported, the person running ParkingTicketAppeals changed on Friday. The two people originally running the service are no longer involved. The Prankster has contacted the new person to find their experience in parking appeals but has had no reply. The Prankster is therefore reserving judgment on the effectiveness of their service going forward for the time being.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Friday, 28 November 2014

ParkingTicketAppeals changes hands

The Parking Prankster has heard that the ownership of at least half of ParkingTicketAppeals has changed hands.It will be run by someone else going forwards.

The Prankster does not know who is now running the company.

At this point therefore The Prankster will neither be recommending for or against using the company until the situation is clear.

As the company are having an effect on ParkingEye's bottom line estimated at £1m a year, it may be that Capita would be better off offering a substantial sum just to close the company down.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Rosanna Breaks joins ParkingEye legal team

Rosanna Breaks has joined ParkingEye's legal team. According to information given to the Prankster, Ms Breaks previously acted for ParkingEye several times under the banner of LPC Law.

As is customary for people ashamed of working for ParkingEye, (in the Prankster's opinion) she appears to have disappeared from social media.

The Prankster hopes Ms Breaks will be happy working at ParkingEye, even though (in the Prankster's opinion) it is a career-limiting move. The legal team at ParkingEye are regularly expected to lie to the court and deceive judges. They are expected to provide partial information in such a way as to paint a false picture. Normally a solicitor's first duty is to the court, and the second to their client. However, this is the reverse of what is expected for the ParkingEye legal team.

In the past, the Prankster has caught out ParkingEye:

  • Providing incorrectly redacted documents to court
  • Lying about the average costs attributable to parking charges
  • Photocopying POPLA witness statements without the knowledge of witnesses, and denying to the witness that their statement was later used in court
  • Writing to judges with incorrect and defamatory material about the Prankster
  • Mentioning a case without informing the judge it had been appealed and was scheduled to appear in the court of appeal
If Rosanna Breaks truly has represented ParkingEye in court, then she will already know all this and will be walking into the job with her eyes fully open.

If not, she may already be in shock. A reputable person, with her eyes on a future career in law, (in the Prankster's opinion) may well decide the best option is to turn her back on the job and walk out with her head held high.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Mr M Shwarts does not appear to be a solicitor. Signing DEAL claim forms may be a criminal offence

Debt Enforcement & Action Limited have been submitting a number of court claims which are signed by a solicitor calling himself Mr M Shwarts.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority have confirmed they cannot locate any Mr M Shwarts on their roll. It is a criminal offence to say you are a solicitor if you are not, as the SRA website explains.

The Prankster therefore recommends anyone with a claim form signed by Mr Shwarts emails it to the SRA to investigate. The email address on some of their contact forms is incorrect. The correct email address is

The SRA will then add this to the rest of the evidence to decide whether to investigate further and what action to take.

Of course, this may all turn out to be a silly mistake by DEAL and their solicitor is really called something else, but he suffers from tourettes, amnesia and dyslexia so never spells his own name correctly.

Otherwise, this report details that Wonga had to pay £2.6 million for sending letters from fake solicitor firms.

The Prankster will wait and see.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

ParkingEye issue scam parking charge at Fistral Beach

ParkingEye recently issued a scam parking ticket for Fistral Beach.

The motorist purchased a ticket which covered the time of stay.

The Prankster confirms that he carefully checked the registration number on the ticket and it appears to be correct. Of course, even if The Prankster did make a mistake in checking this means that there would be no way a motorist could genuinely check the ticket, or correct an error if they discovered one.

The signage confirms the amount paid was correct.

ParkingEye cancelled the ticket on appeal.

The Prankster considers that parking companies who issue scam tickets like this need to be held to account. They should refund the motorist a fair amount for their time and effort. The Prankster considers an amount equal to the discounted ticket would be fair.

ParkingEye have a serious problem with issuing tickets incorrectly. In court documents they admit they cancel 65% of tickets on appeal.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Open letter to Oliver Morley regarding

To "" , ""

Dear Sir,

I would like to complain about the web site,

This appears to be a thinly veiled propaganda exercise on behalf of the British Parking Association Limited, and does not correctly state motorist's parking rights at all.

There appears to have been no consultation with other parking ATAs, such as the IPC, or motorist organisations such as the BMPA.

The site uses the BPA Ltd logo.

I would request that you urgently require the BPA to place a big disclaimer on the front web page stating that the site is created and maintained by the British Parking Association Limited, that there is no government backing or approval, that other ATAs such as the IPC have not been involved, and that motorist organisations have not been involved.

The site has no balance, and does not inform the motorists of the large number of dirty tricks used by parking companies, and the steps to take in such situations.

Please address this issue with utmost urgency.

Your sincerely,

The Parking Prankster
BMPA Representative

Civil Enforcement Limited turn up in court

A66YM205 Wed 29 October. CEL v Mr X. Liverpool Civil and Family Court. DJ Murphy/Britlin/Higgins

In a shock development Civil Enforcement Limited turned up in court. Possibly this was because they attempted to trick the Defendant into not turning up, and were therefore hoping for a default win.

The Defendant received several texts the day before the hearing, and contacted The Prankster for advice.

The Prankster advised the defendant to turn up anyway. He advised it was unlikely that CEL had actually instructed counsel because if they had, counsel would have surely advised them to cut their losses and call off the hearing. He stated it was more likely that as the defendant had never requested a stay of proceedings, that it was a trick by CEL, and that if they turned up but the defendant did not then CEL would get a default win.

On the day Mr Weinburgh (or possibly Weinstein) appeared for CEL in court as a 'representative of the company; he did not appear to be legally qualified, let alone a 'counsel'. His suit appeared to cost all of £25 and his tie was last fashionable in the 70's. The defendant stated that the charge was not a genuine pre-estimate of loss (GPEOL). The judge, impressed, asked the defendant if he had been to law school. The defendant had to admit he had an arts degree. CEL retorted that although the charge was not a GPEOL, it was not a penalty either, although he had no convincing explanation why.

The judge ruled that the attempt by the claimant to trick the defendant into not turning up by texting that the case was adjourned for 21 days was not admissible as evidence as it had 'without prejeduce' (sic) on it. (The Prankster disagrees with the judge on this. 'Without prejudice' is only a protection is there is a genuine attempt to negotiate; it cannot be used as protection for a text trying to trick the defendant into not appearing)

As CEL did not file their witness statement in time the judge ruled it was inadmissible. In any case, he did not have a copy if front of him, although he did say it might be filed 'downstairs somewhere'

This was probably good news for CEL. Their updated costs schedule included an extra £140 for drafting a witness statement (£70), handling the file (£45) and the hearing fee (£25).

The Prankster has compared the witness statement signed by Ashley Cohen with other witness statements he has from CEL also signed by Ashley Cohen. It appears to be generic with no identifying features of the actual case, and almost entirely consisting of template paragraphs used in other cases. The Prankster either thinks that CEL were ripped off if someone charged them £70 for essentially a copy of witness statements used in other cases, or alternatively they are trying to deceive the judge which would be a fraudulent action. It is probably lucky for CEL that this witness statement is lost in the court archives somewhere.

In his judgment, the judge ruled that the small grainy black and white photograph was not sufficient evidence that the vehicle was present at the alleged times. The parking event was before 1 October 2012, and therefore keeper liability did not apply. As the keeper was playing golf at the time and had a witness in court to prove this, there was no case to answer.

The claim was dismissed.

The judge did not award costs, even though arguably the claim had no merit and no hope of succeeding.

Prankster Note

The Claimant submitted this schedule of costs. In the unlikely event of them ever having the claim upheld, The Prankster considers most of these not applicable to small claims and would strongly argue against them.

Allowable costs would include the £25 hearing fee, and the travel portion of the 'claimants attending court'. They would be allowed their travel costs at the cheapest reasonable way of attending, but not any amount for loss of earnings as they will be paid for attending court, which is part of their job.

All the other amounts are intended to bump up the claim to scare the defendant into paying.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Monday, 24 November 2014

Mick Cooke of Armtrac threatens to break fingers

The Parking Prankster has been informed of a telephone call between Michael Cooke of Armtrac and ParkingTicketAppeals.

Mr Cooke has been visiting houses of ParkingTicketAppeals supporters and posting notes through the doors. Apparently he objects to ParkingTicketAppeals offering to help with appealing parking charges.

ParkingTicketAppeals explained that they would be visiting car parks managed by Armtrac up to Chrismas. Mr Cooke responded by threatening to break the fingers of anyone who did this.

The Prankster feels that violence is not the answer to parking problems and that if Mr Cooke wants to stop losing at POPLA, all he has to do is to reduce his charges until they are a genuine pre-estimate of loss.*

The Prankster also worries that the DVLA are handing out motorist's data to a man who threatens violence and with a record of going round to the houses of people he does not agree with.

No doubt the DVLA will do a thorough investigation and if necessary suspend Armtrac's access to the keeper database.

Mr Cooke has previous form for threatening behaviour, as reported on several newspaper web sites.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

*It seems Mr Cooke has found another way to stop losing at POPLA. He had moved from the BPA to the IPC. The IPC run an appeal system which is demonstrably unfair to motorists and which is capable of manipulation tp produce whatever results the IPC wish. Additionally the Government required the BPA appeal system, POPLA to publish an annual report and to be overseen by an independent board. No such requirements have been imposed on the IPC appeal system.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Civil Enforcement Limited fail to attend court

To save time The Parking Prankster has now created a template so he can quickly report on Civil Enforcement Limited (CEL) cases.

CEL's strategy is to file large number of claims and to try and bully people into paying up. However, when faced with a robust defence they inevitably back down and either withdraw the claim or simply fail to turn up in court.

Here then, is the latest report.

Civil Enforcement Limited failed to turn up to a court hearing on [Thursday 20 November 2014] at [Croyden]. The claim reference was [A74YM041]. The motorist, having researched CEL, was aware that they hardly ever turned up, and therefore had a full schedule of costs prepared. The judge awarded [£40] in costs to the motorist.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

DVLA bans Proserve from access to keeper data...nearly

The DVLA has finally grown a pair after two years of sitting on the fence and decided to ban Proserve from access to keeper data...


Proserve has applied for a judicial review of this decision. This is extremely expensive; they may well be looking at a £40,000 bill if they lose. This should take place in the near future. The rules are that it should take place "without undue delay and in any case within 3 months."

Until that process is complete the DVLA will continue to abdicate its responsibility to the motorist and provide keeper data to Proserve.

If Proserve win the judicial review then there will be no need for other car parking companies to remain members of the BPA and IPC. There would be a huge financial incentive for them to leave because they can then charge what they like (Proserve charge up to £250 per hour of trespass), they will not have to pay expensive ATA affiliation fees, and they do not have the bother and expense of running a legitimate appeals service, or funding an independent appeals service.

This could then lead to consumer pressure to get the keeper liability provisions removed, due to widespread abuse.

There are of course legitimate ways to enforce landowner wishes which would not have caused all these problems, but which Proserve and the landowner have chosen to ignore. One way to resolve most issues would be for the landowner to use a company which is a member of an ATA, which uses sensible signage and which charges the landowner's true loss for any act of trespass. The company should proactively patrol, and attempt to genuinely resolve problems in a way which does not involve issuing as many charges as possible.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Motorist gets parking charge back in court. Judge lambasts parking company for lack of proportionality

Our story begins when Ms X turned up to work one day at Fort Dunlop, Birmingham. As far as The Prankster can work out, Fort Dunlop is owned by Urban Splash. Parts are then rented out to Regus, an office management company, who then sublet to other companies. Ms X's car parking space was occupied by someone who should not have been there. Ms X had a parking permit issued by Regus. Regus photocopied parking permits to use a range of spaces which were then issued to Ms X's company, and from there one was given to Ms X.

Ms X therefore parked temporarily in someone else's space (Capita) and asked her boss what to to. The boss went to Regus, who had issued the permit, and asked what to do. Regus replied that she could stay there for the time being, but may have to move if someone complained.

However, later on Ms X found she was issued with a windscreen ticket. She therefore appealed against the ticket to the parking company, Parkshield. They turned down the appeal. She therefore appealed to the IPC. Unfortunately, although the IPC are mandated by goverment to run an independent appeals service, it is anything but. Motorists are not allowed to see the car parking company evidence, are not allowed a right of reply or to highlight new evidence. Worst of all, the process is easily open to corruption and manipulation because the assessors are chosen by the IPC without naming them.

Unsurprisingly the appeal was denied by the IPC. Ms X therefore decided to limit her losses by paying up, but to recoup the amount by filing a court claim. The claim was filed against both ParkShield and Urban Splash. A counterclaim was filed.

Behind the scenes Mr M. co-ordinated troops, helped with correspondence, tried to negotiate a fair settlement to both sides and compiled an impressive legal bundle. Several other people also contributed legal advice and help. The bundle fully debunked the parking companies initial right to charge the motorist, and their subsequent counterclaim. Sadly the judge was unable to read this before the hearing.

The case was heard by DJ Sehdev in Birmingham on 18/11/2014.

In court, Ms X was represented by Craig X, while ParkShield had Andrew Fitton, their commercial director present. Ms Bennett, a lawyer for hire from LPC Law, acted for both defendants. She was instructed by Gladstones solicitors who had done all the paperwork. Ms X was not present.

Ms Bennett immediately tried to ambush the claimant by providing the contract between ParkShield and the landowner. The judge explained he would not see the document because it should have been filed earlier. Ms Bennett said this was not done due reasons of commercial sensitivity. DJ Sehdev explained this was not a good enough reason. Craig pointed out that the claimant had written twice asking for the contract. He explained the claimant would be disadvantaged if the contract was allowed because he would not have time to study it properly, or contact named parties to verify its authenticity.

The judge explained his options were to disallow the document or adjourn the case. Craig stated if the case was adjourned he would apply for a wasted costs order.

Ms Bennett stated the defendants had been ambushed because they were expecting the claimant to appear so they could cross examine her. The judge was having none of that and explained that even if he adjourned the case now, there was no guarantee the claimant would turn up next time; as long as her representative had right of audience he could conduct the case without her.

The judge explained that without disrespect for both parties the case was wholly disproportionate to the time needed. If he adjourned it, the next hearing was likely to need a day of court time to go through all the legal points raised, not the hour scheduled. he explained that anyone sensible acting for the parking company should have taken a long hard look at the circumstances and waived the charge. The claimant had taken reasonable steps to ensure she did the right thing.

Ms Bennett stated that they disagreed with the Ms X's witness statement, that Regus did not have authority to allow Ms X to use a different space and that in any case the Parking attendent's photographs showed that there was an empty space Ms X could use.

The judge rubbished this, stating it was a movable feast and the space would not have been empty when Ms X tried to park.

Craig pointed out there was no evidence Regis did not have authority, because the defendants had not coughed up the contract.

Ms Bennett said the claimant had accepted the charge by paying it. The judge stated she had paid at the point of a gun and it was entirely reasonable to pay up to limit her losses and then to file a court claim to reclaim them.

DJ Sehdev then reiterated that a great deal of money had been spent on this case, out of all proportion to the costs involved, and that he was sure Mr Fitton had better things to do with his time than to spend another day in court.

Was there any way this could be resolved, he asked?

He gave both parties 5 minutes to discuss the situation and everyone left the room.

After some to-ing and fro-ing both parties agreed to a Tomlin order (no admission of liability by either side).

ParkShield agreed to refund the £61.50 parking charge, the £25 filing fee, the £25 hearing fee and to drop the counterclaim.

In return they asked the judge to adjudicate on the £155 fee for an application to adjourn which Ms X was forced to file because she could not get time off work for an earlier hearing. Craig explained that the defendants had refused to agree to an adjournment, although they had nt good reason, and this changed the cost from £50 to £155. He thought it would be fair for the claimant to pay £50 and the defendants the rest.

In the event DJ Sehlev decided to split the costs 50/50. He apologised that the fee was £155 even though the hearing fee was only £25, but explained it was not in his remit to change this. He explained it was to the benefit of Ms X employers that the case was rescheduled, while also chiding the defendants for not cooperating with rescheduling. He explained both parties should cooperate even if they did not agree on other aspects of the case. As it was six of one and half a dozen of the other, costs would be split. He hoped Ms X's employers would pay her half (Prankster's note - they did).

Prankster's Note

ParkShield will have forked out a great deal of money for no good reason when they could have easily cancelled the ticket at first appeal. Their costs will include:

£2.50 DVLA fee
£21 IPC appeal fee
Gladstones solicitor fee
£250 LPC Law fee (approximate)
£25 counterclaim fee
Time preparing the case, travel and parking for Andrew Fitton, and the loss of his day for useful work.
£25 filing fee
£25 hearing fee
£77.50 as half of application to adjourn
£61.50 parking fee returned.

It is not known whether ParkShield operatives or the landowner get s a bounty for tickets paid, and if so whether this will be reclaimed or whether ParkShield will absorb the cost.

Although no verdict was returned, a large number of other motorists have tickets from Fort Dunlop and so The Prankster will keep an ear to the ground to see if more cases are filed by motorists eager to get their money back.

Meanwhile Parkshield continue with a penal ticket regime to the detriment of relations at the complex. If one rogue car parks badly, cause other cars to also have to move this should not be seen as a cash cow for ParkShield to ticket all the cars. This is not what responsible parking management is about. Instead, there should be a system in place so that all motorists know what procedures to follow should a car be taking their spot. This would ensure that only the rogue car is charged and the other cars can still enjoy the parking they have paid for.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Monday, 17 November 2014

ParkingEye roundup. ParkingEye lose in court.

ParkingEye continue to attempt to deceive courts up and down the land by quoting the Beavis case while not informing the court that the case has been appealed and is scheduled for re-hearing in February 2015. The reason for this is plain; when judges are informed that Beavis is being appealed, and shown HHJ Moloney's leave to appeal, they take this into account. When judges are kept in the dark, they tend to follow the Beavis judgment and rule for ParkingEye.

While this strategy earns ParkingEye more court wins than otherwise, the legal professionals involved should be ashamed of themselves. The Prankster regards them as a disgrace to their profession. The first duty of a solicitor is to the court, and not to their client. They have a duty to make the court aware of relevant facts, including those which do not assist their case.

Rachel Ledson is ParkingEye's solicitor, and so has failed in her duty countless hundreds of times by failing to brief her LPC Law advocates properly. The alternative would be that large numbers of LPC Law advocates, including barristers, have failed to properly inform the courts of facts which they have been briefed.

The following cases indicate what happens when a judge is made aware that Beavis is being appealed. These should be quoted in any case where a parking company mention ParkingEye v Beavis.

3JD01272 ParkingEye v Wood. ParkingEye won the initial hearing by providing a fake witness statement (for use only at POPLA and photocopied without the witness knowledge) to the court. After a permission to appeal hearing, during which the judge repeatedly stressed he was not impressed such a small case was taking up so much of the court's time, HHJ Butler gave permission to appeal and the case will be reheard after the Beavis appeal.

3JD04003 ParkingEye v de Meza. DDJ Jones ruled for ParkingEye but enforcement of judgement and right to appeal have been suspended until after the Beavis appeal.

A0JD0153 ParkingEye v Green. Judge Dodd (of ParkingEye v Shelley fame) adjourned the case on the day without hearing from either party, until after the Beavis appeal.

A0QZ8099 Excel v Brunt. DJ Lettall was aware that Beavis was being appealed, so adjourned the case. He was not impressed that Excel had not informed him the case was under appeal and that he had found out himself by other means.

3JD09497 ParkingEye v Howell. Telford Court. ParkingEye sent all correspondence to the wrong address. When the defendant found out they had a CCJ against them, they asked for judgment to be set aside. DJ Chapman ruled the judgment be set aside and the case be stayed until after the Beavis appeal.

 3JD05179 ParkingEye v Marsh. The case was adjourned until after Beavis.

District Enforcement v Jones, Telford Court. The case has been stayed until the Beavis appeal.

A0JD0402 ParkingEye v Mason at Walsall Court. The judge brought up the case of Beavis and questioned ParkingEye's capability to repay any fines which would be overturned if the Beavis case was to be successful. He also mentioned that Dudley county court and Telford county court are adjourning all future ParkingEye cases until the Beavis appeal is heard and ruled upon. He ruled for ParkingEye, but deferred enforcement of the judgment. The order ruled that if the Beavis appeal is successful the judgment will be overturned. However if ParkingEye are successful the charge must be paid in full within 21 days.

It is clear then that large amounts of court time are being wasted by ParkingEye due to their failure to inform the courts of the whole facts. All cases should be suspended until the Beavis appeal.

The Prankster would be interested to hear of any other motorists who have had their case adjourned until after Beavis, and would be especially interested to know how the judge became aware that Beavis was being appealed; from the defendant, from the claimant, or from their own knowledge.

The Prankster recommends that any motorist as well as informing the judge about the above cases, also takes a copy of HHJ Moloney's leave to appeal. 

The motorist should also go to this link:
Type in 'Beavis' and then print out the current case status and bring this to court.

The Prankster also recommends that if the case is adjourned the motorist asks for their costs on the grounds that ParkingEye were acting unreasonably in not informing the court that Beavis was being appealed.

A0JD5113 ParkingEye v Park Furnishers Ltd (17/11/2014, Bristol) DDJ Melville-Shreeve
DDJ Melville-Shreeve was pointed to ParkingEye v Beavis extensively by the ParkingEye's advocate from LPC Law, Mr Binns. However Mr Binns did not inform the judge this case was being appealed, and the judge was not aware of this either.

The DDJ was strongly persuaded by HHJ Moloney and the argument around commercial justification. However, he also noted the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations (UTCCR) 1999 reference in HHJ Moloney's judgment. The DDJ held that the charge was not fair under the UTCCR because it was obviously a penalty and at a similar level to statutory penalties whose intention is to be the opposite of fair - to penalise people in order to avoid them doing things like this. So a penalty could never be fair under UTCCR.

The LPC Law advocate argued the car was there on business and therefore UTCCR did not apply. Melville-Shreeve held that on the balance of probabilities as the car was there during lunch break it was not there to furnish the park, and it was more likely that it was on private business. Otherwise UTCCR would not apply and he would have fallen in line with HHJ Moloney.

The claim was dismissed.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Prankster misses out on $8 million

The Prankster received this email today

Sadly, The Prankster's surname is not Pranky, so he will be unable to share in the $8 million. If anybody called Pranky is reading this, they are more than welcome to contact Davidson, who may as a result one day be able to afford a real email address.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Friday, 14 November 2014

Prankster guide to getting a ParkingEye CCJ set aside

[updated 8/8/2015. Please refer to the web link below which will be kept up to date. This blog contains information which is potentially now out of date]

With help from members of the BMPA, The Prankster has produced a guide to getting a ParkingEye CCJ set aside. The web page and sample witness statement are at this link.

Salient details are below.

Getting a ParkingEye CCJ set aside.

You may have received a letter from ParkingEye out of the blue telling you you have a CCJ.

You have three options.
1) You can ignore it. This many lead to escalated costs against you as they try ad enforce the judgment, and so this is not recommended.
2) You can pay it. The CCJ will then be marked as satisfied, but will remain on your credit record for 6 years. You should therefore think very carefully before taking this option.
3) You can fight it. This will cost you £155, which will be refundable if you win (not guaranteed). However, this is your only chance of removing the CCJ so if this is important to you, this is the only way forward.

The way this works is you will have a set aside hearing where the judge will decide whether to set aside the CCJ. If he does then the claim starts afresh in that there will be a second hearing about the claim itself. If the claim then gets dismissed you get all your money back from ParkingEye.

If in that second hearing the claim gets allowed then normally you wouldn't get your £155 back, unless the judge thinks ParkingEye behaved unreasonable by not verifying your address. But at least your CCJ will disappear from your credit report so this may be the best way forward. Also, your chances of winning are potentially quite good - particularly if Beavis wins the Court of Appeal test case in Feb 2015, or if you were not the driver.

You have to have a good reason for ignoring the court process - not having received the paperwork is usually a good reason, and you can use ParkingEye's own letter as proof. You also have to have reasonable prospects of getting the result overturned. ParkingEye file claims under the Protection of Freedoms Act. One of the requirements of this Act is that a notice to keeper is served. Again, you can you ParkingEye's own letter to prove it was not. You will therefore have a very good chance of at least getting a second hearing, which will remove the CCJ.

The Process

You need form N244 which you can find here:

You need to complete this with the claim details (what court, what claim number etc). If you don't have this information then you will need to call the Moneyclaims centre at 0300 123 1057 or 01604 619 402 and ask for this information:
Claim number
Judgement date
Judgement amount

On the form N244:
1. - state the person's name who has received the CCJ
2. - tick Defendant
3. - "Set aside Default Judgement dated xx/xx/xxxx and dismiss the claim"
4. - tick No
5. - tick At a Hearing
6. - 8. - leave blank
9. - state "Claimant"
9.a - use the address from ParkingEye's letter
10. - tick The attached witness statement

then you need to sign the Statement of Truth

11. - again you need to sign and complete this.

On this page is a sample template of the witness statement, please have a look through this and complete this as much as possible. You can also add more details about what address ParkingEye used, when you moved address, when you informed the DVLA, etc.

You will have more chance of a set aside if you correctly informed the DVLA of your new address at the time you moved. If you did not, the judge may decide it was your fault for not informing the DVLA.

Once this all sorted then you need to sign the Witness Statement and attach a copy of the letter ParkingEye sent to you.You also need to sign the Form N244.

You then need to send two signed copies of each, plus a cheque for £155 to
County Court Business Centre (CCBC)
St. Katharine's House21-27
St. Katharine's Street

Be mindful of the fact that you need to send this off as soon as possible so you'll need to spend some time on this quickly.

Lastly, when you get the judgment set aside, you will then need to file a solid defence within a short timescale. This may be the time to get a solicitor, or the BMPA, my guides, or a website like pepipoo (or all of the above) 

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Thursday, 13 November 2014

DVLA cough up £75 on the orders of the ICA

[The Prankster Previosly blogged about this here. Mr Griffiths has now been sent his cheque for £75]

Mr Griffiths car got a windscreen ticket from Local Parking Security Ltd, a British Parking Association member - it was £60 discounted to £40.

This is a breach of the British Parking Association Code of Practice which requires a 40% discount.
Mr Griffiths therefore contacted the DVLA to point out that breach (and others). He pointed out that under their own publicly stated policy - which requires membership of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) and compliance with their Code of Practice - that the DVLA had no reasonable cause or legal basis under which to release his keeper data.

The DVLA released his data anyway.

The windscreen ticket did not comply with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and so LPS were in any event not able to chase the keeper. This did not stop them and LPS set their debt collecting dogs after Mr Griffiths as the Registered Keeper

Mr Griffiths complained to the DVLA, and when he had no joy, escalated the complaint, which means the complaint is decided by an Independent Complaints Assessor (lCA). Jonathan Wigmore was assigned as the ICA.

The ICA's report, was highly critical of the DVLA's handling of this whole sorry affair. He recommended the DVLA apologise and pay Mr Griffiths £75 in compensation.

Some choice extracts are as follows.

Paragraph 21 shows how the DVLA attempted to hide relevant correspondence from the ICA – this is a breach of the Civil Service Code of Conduct
On 29 May I asked the DVLA to send me all the documents in line with its usual process and on 6 June the Agency told me I had been sent all the documents it had. On 9 June I wrote back contrasting the inventory of correspondence on the referral form with the partial disclosure made to me and asking a series of questions. Further documents were provided on 17 June but gaps still existed leading me to approach you on 19 June, copied to the Agency. This prompted a further disclosure that day from the Agency but documents remained outstanding, as I outlined to you in my email of 20 June. We agreed that your case would be deferred pending your return from abroad but I felt I had enough to produce an initial draft which I referred to the Agency on 17 July. On 18 July you told me you would provide the missing documents so I asked the Agency to disregard my draft. After my holiday, on 6 August, I referred a new draft to the DVLA 
Paragraph 29; the ICA confirms that the DVLA does not have sufficient safeguards in place
It should also be remembered that the BPA’s undertakings which the Agency relayed to you on 14 March, such as they were, were the first you had heard about enforcement action against LPS since the DVLA’s 11 November 2013 request that the BPA respond to the DVLA and you. (And you had needed to chase the DVLA after an 11 week lapse in communications.) The Agency’s slack handling of the correspondence with you and the BPS resembled anything but a “tough safeguard”. 
Paragraph 33 confirms the DVLA have a policy of being useless and thus when they are useless they are policy compliant.
DVLA policy is to disclose keeper data to selected agencies unless it has a ground to think that reasonable cause does not apply. That policy was followed in your case and I am unable to find against the Agency where it has followed its policy. I therefore cannot uphold your complaint that the DVLA should not have disclosed your data. However, I have expressed concern at the robustness of the DVLA’s oversight in this case. 
Paragraph 35 is the one to continually remind the ICA about on all future complaints. We know that the DVLA will behave like the ICO following Levison’s criticism. Once Levison put everything to bed the ICO reverted to form – so will the DVLA.
I welcome these developments, in particular the commitment of the Agency to ensure that complaints and other sources of intelligence will inform its oversight of compliance with the disclosure conditions it has applied. I am sure that this will tighten up code compliance on the part of companies like LPS. 
Paragraph 37 – the same applies to the standards set out in the civil service code of conduct which the DVLA appears to treat with disdain
The applicable PHSO standards include:
“Public bodies should do what they say they are going to do. If they make a commitment to do something, they should keep to it, or explain why they cannot. They should meet their published service standards, or let customers know if they cannot.” 
Paragraph 38 – they are doing the same with Proserve. They say they are doing something, in the hope that complaints go away, and then they file and forget. The Prankster is experiencing similar stalling tactics regarding his complaint over the IPC appeals system.
Looking first at the DVLA’s responses to your correspondence, it is clear that having been very responsive to your initial concerns in November 2013, your case dropped off the Agency’s radar as soon as you stopped corresponding. If the Agency pushed the BPA to look into your concerns after its 11 November 2013 referral, nothing was communicated to you until you pushed. Almost three months would pass with nothing happening at all (apart from LPS being allowed to access your data) despite an undertaking that a manager would review your case. 
Paragraph 40” While I have been critical of the Agency’s apparent acceptance of the BPA’s approach to enforcing its Code” – A useful expression for other complaints.
While I have been critical of the Agency’s apparent acceptance of the BPA’s approach to enforcing its Code, I feel that a reasonable effort was made here to cover the points you had put to the DVLA 
Paragraph 43 is almost unbelievable “The Agency also knew from an early stage that I was approaching you direct so my view is that no advantage could come from resisting disclosure deliberately. On balance I find that the Agency’s undoubted poor administration fell short of maladministration." There is a hint here that the ICA accepts that the DVLA was resisting disclosure but without criticising the DVLA. How he can say that there was no maladministration beggars belief. A failure to disclose must be maladministration in itself. 
As I have stated, the erratic and piecemeal disclosure of information in your case is completely uncharacteristic of the DVLA. I acknowledge your view that this is part and parcel of a deliberate approach designed to thwart your complaint. However, I also note that some of the documents I have struggled to obtain, for example the DVLA’s letter of 28 March, represented clear and timely statements of the Agency’s position. The Agency also knew from an early stage that I was approaching you direct so my view is that no advantage could come from resisting disclosure deliberately. On balance I find that the Agency’s undoubted poor administration fell short of maladministration. 
Paragraph 45 “I recommend that, in its response to this review, the DVLA provides you with an inventory of all the documents it holds in relation to your case together with an explanation of why it has struggled to provide them to me.” Then what? So, they give the list and say “We just couldn't be bothered to help you because we think all complainants are daft buggers” and they are not penalised for that? No, the ICA has made an error here and is a matter for the Ombudsman to consider. So far, no inventory or reasons have been supplied.
I recommend that, in its response to this review, the DVLA provides you with an inventory of all the documents it holds in relation to your case together with an explanation of why it has struggled to provide them to me. 
Paragraph 46 “Concluding, the issue of real concern to me here is the lack of evidence of vigilance in the DVLA’s dealings with the BPA “ Again, this should be quoted in all complaints so that this lack of vigilance becomes evidenced as a norm in the DVLA to build up the picture to the ICA/Ombudsman. There also needs to be a timescale for the bullet points to be implemented with names of those responsible for ensuring that these matters are properly implemented and monitored. Again the ICA talks of code compliance being delegated to the BPA. The ICA is saying that code compliance is the province of the DVLA to monitor and investigate but that it has delegated it to the BPA. The principles of delegation in the public sector still mean that the party delegating it is legally responsible for it. I wonder if the ICA realises what he has said? Perhaps he is correct and has revealed what we have maintained for so long but which the DVLA has sought to deny/hide?
Concluding, the issue of real concern to me here is the lack of evidence of vigilance in the DVLA’s dealings with the BPA in this case and the lack of credibility of the assurances it relayed to you on 14 March. The existence of a well-oiled process in the Agency for dealing with complaints about code compliance by private parking operators accessing vehicle keeper data has not been evident to me in your case. However, it seems to me that such a process should underpin the Agency's assurance to the public about its disclosures of keeper details to private companies. I would expect such a process to include:
 A clear arrangement with the ATA for complaints which engage code policing and compliance to be investigated and responded to within a set timescale
 A statement of how the DVLA is assured that the tough safeguards delegated to the ATA are working effectively
 An explanation of how evidence of code breaches is handled by the DVLA.
Paragraph 47 it must be from the CEO and not a subordinate. Watch the CEO change this “oversight of ATAs’ response to complaints “ to “ about the ATAs’ response to complaints about private parking companies.”. The DVLA’s responsibility, oversight and monitoring will disappear. When it does the ICA should be notified. In fact the ICA should be asked to add to his report that he will act as an arbiter of the DVLA’s response to this report to ensure that the DVLA properly corrects the failings revealed in this report. Without that independent view the DVLA can just whitewash. So far the CEO of the DVLA has done nothing.
Finally therefore, with the above in mind, I recommend that in his response to this review, the CEO of the DVLA sets out how the Agency has responded to complaints from you and other people about its oversight of ATAs’ response to complaints about private parking companies.
Paragraph 44. 
 I recommend that the CEO of the DVLA apologises to you for the lapses I have identified and offers you a payment of £75 in recognition of the Agency’s poor administration which, as well as stalling at the local stage, occasioned a delay of at least three months in my review and further time and effort on your part in preparing a document set for me.

Mr Griffiths did indeed received a cheque from the DVLA but it came on it's own; no note, no covering letter, no suitable apology from Oliver Morely, just a cheque in an envelope. This speaks volumes about the mindset of the DVLA hierarchy and what they think of consumer complaints - it was a deliberate snub, designed and intended to show complete and utter disrespect.

Meanwhile it is the view of Mr Griffiths that the ICA has allowed the DVLA to mislead him over the critical issue regarding compliance with the Code of Practice and he is in the process of referring his complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Prankster Note

The DVLA employs several people whose job it is to run interference with motorists genuine complaints and to protect the bonuses of high level DVLA employees who rely on the income from private parking companies to meet their bonus targets.

These employees are only exposed when tenacious people like Mr Griffiths are prepared to devote time and energy to pursuing complaints.

The Prankster recommends that complainants refuse to be fobbed off, and that they continue to escalate complaints to the ICA. Only if this happens will the deadwood in the DVLA be removed and genuine civil servants acting for the public appointed.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

The Prankster at Parking World - the end of parking as we know it

The Prankster was recently invited to attend Parking World 2014 where he was able to mingle with industry names such as Patrick Troy, Chief Executive of the BPA, and Henry Greenslade, Lead Adjudicator of POPLA.

Among the many interesting presentations was one by John Siraut, technical director of economics at Jacobs. Mr Siraut predicted the end of parking charges due to self-driving cars. At the point when they become commonplace, predatory parking practices will no longer be possible. The car will avoid charges by not parking where it is not allowed, and will simply leave the car park when the time expires, returning later to pick up the passengers. Expensive car parks will become a thing of the past. Cars will either return home, or drive to a cheaper car park. The Prankster continues Mr Siraut's theme by predicting that car park management models will have to change from the predatory model adopted by companies like ParkingEye, where their only income is from parking charges. Instead, the car park company will charge a management fee. Luckily for Capita, who purchased ParkingEye for £57.5 million, Mr Siraut predicted that self-driving cars still have some way to go to become a reality, and we are perhaps 30 years away.

There were also several interesting exhibitors. The Prankster saw an innovative approach to community bicycles, whereby any bicycle can be converted to a community bike by providing a GPS enabled lock.

The Prankster also chatted about ANPR technology with several vendors. One problem with ANPR is that because it is not perfect, motorists can be charged for overstaying when in fact they made two visits. This occurs either when the numberplate is not read correctly, or when the system is misconfigured.

The vendors explained that there are no real civil standards for ANPR for car park enforcement. There is a police standard, NATIONAL ACPO ANPR STANDARDS (available here). This only requires accuracy of 91.1% for static cameras, which means almost 1 in 10 reads will be wrong. However, there is no way for officially getting any civil system certified to say it complies with this standard.

There are no civil standards for camera accuracy, so operators can say with a straight face that their cameras comply to the BPA standards, without this actually meaning anything.

In practice, it was explained to The Prankster, accuracy will also depend on conditions. On a sunny day, glare will heavily affect results, and even more so for infra-red cameras. Rear number plates are also more prone to read errors, as they are often dirtier.

Camera position is also important. The camera should not read vehicles as they come round a bend, but after they have straightened up. The camera should also be high enough to minimise blocked reads due to tailgating, while low enough not to get misreads from skew.

Cameras can also become misaligned, so they no longer cover the whole road, which means that some vehicles may be missed.

All in all it was an interesting conference, which The Prankster finished off by meeting Prankster Jr nearby, where he was featuring in a nearby art gallery.

Parking World is curated by Mark Moran of Parking Review

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

BPA propose hiving off the AOS

The British Parking Association Limited is proposing hiving off the Approved Operator Scheme to a separate body. The BPA will maintain the Code of Practice while the new organisation administers it.

The Prankster suggest a different strategy would be better. It is confusing for motorists to have to deal with two different trade associations, the BPA Ltd and the IPC, both of whom have different codes of practices . The confusion is increased as members move from one association to the other, depending on who at the time is offering the appeals system most biased against the motorist.

Furthermore, we have seen that the BPA adjusts its code of practice according to the whims of its larger members, and does not take account of the requirements of fairness towards motorists, landowners and smaller members.

The code of practice would therefore belong best in the hands of an independent body. The BPA has denied several times that it has the power to regulate the sector. Regulation would also benefit from being in the hands of an independent body. The Prankster suggests that this body would set the code of practice and set minimum standards for all trade association members. Individual trade associations can supplement these if they wish. The body would also regulate the sector. It would be independent, but funded by parking operators.

The Prankster also suggests a change to the current scheme, which is not working because sanctions are so draconian they are never used. Instead, financial penalties will be imposed on members who make minor transgressions. The body would also have the power to cancel incorrectly issued charges and direct operators to make payments to motorists for incorrectly issued charges.

What the industry needs to shake it up and force it to play fair is a regulator with teeth.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Parking Prankster opens a bank account

Truthfully, this blog should really be entitled, 'The Parking Prankster attempts to open a bank account'.

The Parking Prankster, having occasion to open an organisational bank account, set off to his local branch armed with reams of identity documents. On arrival, the nice man explained that they no longer opened accounts in branches (so last century) and The Prankster would have to do it over the phone. However, please use our phone (to phone us) said the nice man. The nice lady on the phone said that the bank was de-merging, and that the branch he was in no longer opened that type of account. However, The Prankster could still physically open the account there (since this was done by phone), but she would have to transfer me to the other bank's phone, even though it was still currently the same bank. She also explained that when it came down to actual banking The Prankster would have to bank at the other branch, which was 30 yards away over the road.

The new nice lady (from the other bank) now explained that accounts could not really be opened over the phone at all, but that some forms needed to be filled in. No branches actually stocked these forms any more so she said she would email the forms to The Prankster. The Prankster explained that as he was at the bank right now he would really like to be getting on with filling them in straight away, so he could ask if he could have any questions. The nice lady said she would copy the email to the branch so they could print them out then and there. The Prankster then explained he had tons of identification with him, just in case it was needed but the nice lady confided they no longer did it that way (so last century) and that The Prankster would be verified over the internet.

By this time The Prankster had received the email on his phone. However the bank did not receive the email, even though they sent it to themselves. The Prankster forwarded the email to them, but they still did not receive it. The Prankster went over the road to the other bank, but they could not receive the email either. Strangely The Prankster got a bounce email stating the nice man behind the enquiries desk did not exist even though he agreed The Prankster had typed his email correctly from his business card. At this point their wifi stopped working so The Prankster left.

Slightly frustrated the Prankster popped into lots of other banks, but none of them were able to open accounts there and then. One of them promised an appointment could be had as early as the first week in December.  So he went home.

There, he printed the forms, filled them out and posted them off (so last century).

The Prankster did chuckle when he noticed that the bank officers had a bad case of 'willy need'.

No doubt this will have been caused by all the frustration involved.

Happy banking

The Parking Prankster

Monday, 10 November 2014

ParkingEye obtain CCJs by stealth

Have you got a county court judgment (CCJ) against you? If you answered no, then perhaps you should not be quite so certain. Large numbers of innocent motorists are finding that ParkingEye have obtained CCJs against them by stealth, by sending all the paperwork to incorrect addresses.

The Prankster has heard from increasing numbers of motorists to whom this has happened, and believes this will be a growing phenomenon due to ParkingEye's irresponsible behaviour.

The ParkingEye system is mostly computerised, and the machine will roll inexorably on once started. If an incorrect address is entered into the system to begin with, then all letters will be sent there. The motorist will not respond, as they never got the letters, so ParkingEye will progress through sending reminders, letters before claim, a county court claim, and then finally, a request for default judgment. At this point the motorist will have a CCJ, but will have had no contact from ParkingEye and will have no idea there is a CCJ against their name.

The first time they find out may be when they apply for credit  - perhaps buying a mobile phone - or a mortgage, which may well then be declined or be offered on punitive terms. Even worse, ParkingEye may decide to track you down explaining you have a CCJ against you, They will say it is not their fault they got your address wrong and invite you to cough up.

The Prankster believes this is totally irresponsible behaviour from ParkingEye. The time to track down the motorist and check the address is correct is before issuing court papers, not after a default judgment has been obtained. Although ParkingEye state they had no reason to believe the address was incorrect, any reasonable person would suspect that if no replies are received to letters, then there is a good chance the address was wrong. This is especially true as they have no reason to believe it was correct in the first place, having got it from the DVLA where it is entirely likely the address will be wrong or out of date.

Corrective Action

One way to apparently deal with this would be to pay the required amount to satisfy the CCJ. The problem with this is that the CCJ will remain on your credit record for up to 6 years, so it will not really solve the problem. Your credit will remain impaired and mortgages will be difficult to obtain.

The Prankster therefore recommends dealing with the problem head on and applying for the judgment to be overturned. This will involve expense, time and effort, but is better for the long term. To apply for the judgment to be overturned requires a £155 fee up front. This will be refundable by ParkingEye assuming you win your case. This is also reduced or waived if you are on low income.

You will have to attend a set-aside hearing where you will need to explain to the judge why you ignored all the paperwork from ParkingEye and the court. A satisfactory reason will be that you never got it in the first place, as ParkingEye used the wrong address. The judge may well be used to hearing this. ParkingEye have irresponsibly issued court papers to incorrect addresses on a frequent basis and there are set-aside hearings for ParkingEye almost daily up and down the country.

You will also have to explain to the judge that if the case is re-heard you have a reasonable prospect of success. This should not be too difficult. ParkingEye issue claims against vehicle keepers under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. However, one of the conditions of the act is that for an ANPR ticket the keeper will only be liable if they received a Notice to Keeper within 14 days on the parking event. As the motorist never received any paperwork at all, then this condition will not be satisfied and the keeper will not be liable, rendering no cause of action for the claim.

The judge should then schedule a rehearing. You should also ask for the hearing to be held after the ParkingEye v Beavis test case to be heard in the high court. This hearing will decide whether ParkingEye are limited to charging the amount it costs them to process a ticket (around £20) or whether they can charge an arbitrary amount. Although the level of charge will not be your primary defence, it is a useful back up in case you were also the driver.

Currently The Prankster has heard from several people who have gone down this route, all successfully. getting judgment overturned and a hearing rescheduled. The Prankster has not heard from anyone who failed, (but please get in contact if this happened to you).

Currently, ParkingEye pursue all claims regardless of merit, and this will be to your benefit. As there is no longer any merit to their claim, and no reasonable prospect of success in claiming against the keeper, their actions may well be deemed unreasonable, and the small claims costs limit no longer applies.

If you win the rehearing, you will therefore be able to claim large costs against them, although it will be up to the judge's discretion if they are awarded.

However, ParkingEye may well change their strategy after getting bitten a few times, and may decide to drop the claim against you. This will present you with something of a dilemma. You will already be out of pocket £155 plus your time off work for attending the set-aside hearing.

You therefore have two possibilities, and The Prankster recommends you get legal advice before going forward. One option is to issue a counter claim against ParkingEye. This will cost you money, but will prevent ParkingEye unilaterally dropping the case. You would do this as soon as possible after the set-aside hearing.

The other option is to ask for a costs order against ParkingEye once they drop the case. Again, this costs money and is likely to be more expensive than issuing a counter claim.

Following the case you then need to check with credit agencies to make sure the CCJ is removed.

If the CCJ is causing you major problems, such as preventing a house move, then you could seriously consider a very large claim against ParkingEye for their irresponsible behaviour. case, The Prankster would firmly recommend getting legal advice before going down this route. If large sums are involved it may be possible to get a no win no fee arrangement with a solicitor.

The Prankster also recommends complaining to your MP.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster