Vehicle Control Services filed multiple court claims in Scotland, and eventually went all the way with one case for £700 worth of parking tickets. However, Sheriff Alastair Brown dismissed the case on the grounds that there was no evidence whatsoever that the defendant was the driver in any of the parking events.
In Scotland, only the driver is liable for parking events. In England and Wales the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, schedule 4 also makes the keeper liable if certain conditions are fulfilled.
The Sheriff ruled that VCS were incompetent, but that they had not conducted themselves inappropriately, so awarded expenses at the small claims level but did not award punitive expenses.
The defendant's solicitor, Gary McIlravey warned that the decision was not a test case on the legitimacy of future private parking claims, and that each case will turn on the facts..
The Prankster agrees with Mr McIlravey's comment in so far as each case will turn on the facts. It is clear in Scotland that if the facts do not establish who the driver is, then the case must fail.
Once the driver is established of course, then the fundamental nature of the claim still needs to be examined.
The Prankster considers it is also worth comparing the verdict of a proper judge, with a typical kangaroo court verdict returned by the 'Independent' Parking Committee's appeal service, the IAS. The IPC state they use solicitors or barristers, but the general level of legal knowledge and competence suggests they are probably using baristas by mistake.
Here is one barista's comments on a similar case.
The appellant claims in his appeal that he was not the driver, however fails to identify the driver to the operator. Under well established case law, the owner of the vehicle is presumed to be the driver unless the contrary can be proved.The Prankster considers this one paragraph epitomises all that is wrong with the IPC appeals service.
- there is no such established case law
- even if there was, any properly legally qualified person would quote it
- there are plenty of cases where the case was dismissed because keeper was not the driver. The assessor therefore shows clear bias by not taking these into consideration
- there is no requirement to identify the driver
- the assessor shows their bias by believing everything the operator says (although the recent BBC Watchdog program shows operators routinely lie in appeals), but does not believe the appellant even though the appellant is required to sign a statement of truth when making the appeal.
Although Scottish law is different to English, The Prankster believes the comparison between the two cases is valid and instructive. The Prankster calls on the IPC to name and shame the barista involved, and to remove him from their assessor panel as he is clearly either incompetent, biased, or both.
The Prankster has seen other verdicts from the IAS where the assessor lacks basic parking knowledge such as the requirements of the Protection of Freedom's Act and assessors are unable to properly decide whether a notice to keeper is compliant or not. With such basic lack of knowledge it is hard to see how the appeals service can call itself 'Independent', let alone legitimate.
By comparison, here is POPLA verdict where the assessor does understand Protection of Freedom's Act
The Appellant states that the requirements of Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 have not been met and keeper liability has not been established and the burden of proof is on the Operator to prove its case on balance of probabilities. Paragraph 4 of Schedule 4 outlines the relevant criteria and there are 4 conditions to be fulfilled in order for the Operator to recover any unpaid parking charge notice from the registered keeper. The first condition is that the Operator has the right to enforce against the driver of the vehicle the requirement to pay the parking charge notice. The second condition is that the Operator has given a notice to the keeper in accordance with paragraph 9. The third condition is that the Operator has made an application for the keeper’s details in relation to the period of parking to which the unpaid parking charges relate and the application was made during the relevant period for the purposes of paragraph 9 (4) where no notice to the driver was given. The fourth condition is that any applicable requirements prescribed under this paragraph were met at the beginning of the period of parking to which the unpaid parking charges relate.
The Operator states that they do not work, issue or seek payment under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 however, they are pursuing the Appellant under keeper liability and they have not shown that the requirements of POFA have been met and I am therefore, not satisfied that the Operator has complied with the criteria of Schedule 4 of POFA 2102 and I am unable to find the Appellant liable as the registered keeper for this charge.
The Prankster is interested in compiling a list of bizarre IAS results. If you have had a result where the assessor showed bias, incompetence or lack of parking knowledge, please email it to The Prankster - email@example.com.
The Parking Prankster