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it was correct in the first place, having got it from the DVLA where it is entirely likely the address will be wrong or out of date.
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.
The Parking Prankster