Friday 10 July 2015. Blackpool County Court. TESGB v Ms L
TESGB took a motorist to court for parking at the offices where she worked. Representing TESGB were their managing director, ex-clamper William Taylor, and a solicitor. A lay representative from the British Motorist's Protection Assocition represented Ms L.
The judge opened proceedings by stating that Mr Taylor's witness statement contained apparent falsehoods. Mr Taylor had stated that TESGB had authority to issue parking charges. However, the parking contract supplied as evidence was in a different name - The Parking Ticket Company Ltd. A sample copy of their contract is contained on their website here.
The contract does contain provisions that The Parking Ticket Company Limited can use agents, but TESGB had brought no evidence to court that this was the case.
The judge stated that he was minded to dismiss the case unless such evidence was produced. TESGB asked for an adjournment. Ms L's representative pointed out that they were litigants in person against a company represented by solicitors, who should have known what they were doing. Moreover, they had already pointed out this deficiency in the claimant's case prior to the hearing.
The judge agreed with this, dismissed the claim and awarded costs against TESGB.
Both parties came out losers in this case; the motorist had to suffer through many anxious months while TESGB will have spent money on the claim. In the recent BBC Watchdog program, a company (which the Prankster believes was PCM-UK) revealed costs to take a motorist to court could be up to £1,000. In this particular case The Prankster believes TESGB may be more than £2,000 worse off.
So who were the big winners?
Well, after the case TESGB apparently put the blame squarely on Gladstones Solicitors for the debacle. Gladstones could potentially have charged TESGB for services such as writing debt collector letters to the motorist, filing the claim, corresponding with the motorist, helping prepare the witness statement and so on.
The typical cost for a solicitor to attend a claim hearing will be somewhere between £150 and £300.
Most of these costs are not recoverable in the small claims court. Gladstones seem to have perfected the trick of persuading parking companies to take motorists to court, guaranteeing that the parking company will lose money even if they win the final hearing, while the money pours in to Gladstones coffers.
Gladstones directors are also directors of the Independent Parking Committee. It has not escaped the Prankster's notice that they have created an appeals service which artificially raises parking companies expectations as to the validity of their case. The structure of the appeals service allows the Gladstones directors to select baristas who either are incompetent, have poor legal skills, or who are biased towards parking operators. This is because the identities of the baristas are never revealed; thus, anyone who wished to bias the system could simply start with a large pool of adjudicators, but gradually only pick baristas who give the answers Gladstones directors want. The Prankster recommends that to remove the easy possibility of such bias all baristas are named. It is a fact that there have been a number of decisions where in The Prankster's opinion the baristas have exhibited poor knowledge of the law surrounding parking, dubious logic abilities and decisions which are the opposite of those given by judges.
A typical example of raising expectations is the current case. Similar points to those raised in court have also been raised in IPC appeals in TESGB cases. The IPC baristas made decisions directly opposite to those made in court and dismissed the appeals. This could of course have raised expectations at TESGB, leading them to believe they had an actual case.
However, the truth is that the case was riddled with holes which a real judge with actual legal knowledge picked out in a few seconds. Result? Case dismissed.
The Prankster recommends that any IPC Parking company being egged on by Gladstones to take motorists to court considers carefully the following facts.
The IPC appeals service is staffed by baristas hand picked by Gladstones directors. The IPC produces decisions which are directly opposite to those taken by the courts and also by other appeals services such as POPLA. Gladstones validate operator contracts and signage. Gladstones take their money for assisting with court action, win or lose. The costs of taking a motorist to court using any solicitor will far outweigh any amount awarded, win or lose, because of the cost limits in the small claims court.
Parking companies who go to court with their own personnel can make this cost effective; companies using legal services cannot.
The new Transport Commitee has been decided. The Prankster suggests they look into the possibility that Gladstones Solicitors are financially benefiting from the poor quality of the IAS appeals service constructed by Gladstones' directors.
The Parking Prankster