Monday, 7 March 2016

ParkingEye lose in court - accuse driver's evidence of being unreliable, but their own evidence destroys their case

07/03/2016 Case B7FC00H1 – Parking Eye v Mrs B, before District Judge McKinnell at St Albans

This was a Barnet Hospital case, where the defendant had gone to pick up her daughter, and spent 34 minutes driving around the access roads trying to find out which department her daughter was likely to be in. She had parked for a brief period in the 20 minute drop off zone, but never parked in any of the Patient & Visitor car parks. ParkingEye alleged that she did, and therefore owed the Hospital £2, which ParkingEye escalated to £100.

There was a previous hearing in December ,which was carried over to March. After this hearing, Mrs B contacted the Prankster, who enlisted the help of Barnet resident Mr Mustard, usually known for his expertise in Council tickets.

Some excellent detective work by Mr Mustard proved the ticket should never have been issued. Mr Mustard made a meticulous site visit, photographing and documenting all aspects of the car park.

This is the photograph ParkingEye filed as evidence claiming that it was of Mrs B leaving the Patient & Visitor Car park.

Mr Mustard noticed the writing on the road. There is only one place in the hospital with writing like this - the 20 minute free stay car park. 

ParkingEye's own evidence was essentially worthless. Their pictures show the vehicle entering the Patient & Visitor Car Park but leaving a completely different car park!

Mr Mustard could not attend the hearing, so at short notice Bargepole offered to be Mrs B's lay representative. He took Mrs B's rather unstructured defence and prepared a concise summary for the judge, concentrating on the fact that no contravention occurred.

In court ParkingEye's representative Mr Harris, said that, as Mrs B’s initial defence on the MCOL form denied ever visiting Barnet Hospital, and then she changed it when she received the photos, her evidence should be treated as unreliable.

He cross-examined Mrs B, and tried to suggest that her subsequent witness statement, in which she denied ever parking, stating that she was driving around the entire time, was made up after discussing the case with her daughter, and 83-year old mother, who had been with her at the time, so it wasn’t a contemporaneous account. Mrs B stuck to her guns, and answered in a positive and assertive manner, to her credit.

Bargepole then pointed out that PE’s photos showed the vehicle entering from one part of the complex, and exiting from a different part, and did not provide any evidence that she had parked for any length of time, or at all.

The Judge sent the parties out for 20 minutes while she considered her verdict, and then went through the case in her judgment.

She found Mrs B to be a credible witness, and accepted her evidence that she never parked. ParkingEye had not made out their case to prove that she parked for 34 minutes, or at all, and the claim would fail on that basis. She also commented that ParkingEye's signage only talks about ‘parking’, and doesn’t claim that the clock starts ticking once you pass the ANPR cameras.

Costs were awarded to the defendant of £47.50 for a half day off work, plus £7.50 parking, total £55.

Bargepole's comment: the lesson to learn from this for anyone receiving a court claim, is don’t rush to put a load of rubbish down as your defence as soon as you receive the claim; acknowledge service and take the full 28 days.

Prankster Notes

Mr Mustard recreated Mrs B's journey and then made a subject access request to ParkingEye. The results show he was detected 42 times by cameras as he traversed the site.

When Mrs B made a similar request ParkingEye stonewalled her and refused to supply the data. The Prankster believes the data would have backed up her claim to have been driving around the site and that ParkingEye  should therefore have vacated the claim.

Instead, they spent more than £500 pursuing a claim for an underpayment £2, which it turns out was never owed in the first place.

It is clear that the ParkingEye system at Barnet hospital is unreliable and is issuing tickets which it has no rights to issue. Moreover The Prankster believes that ParkingEye are, or should be, fully aware of this from analysing the camera tracks of Mrs B's journey.

It is also clear that the system at Barnet Hospital is in direct contravention of government guidelines, which state that:
Contracts should not be let on any basis that incentivises additional charges, eg ‘income from parking charge notices only’
Hospital car parks are huge sources of revenue for ParkingEye, and The Prankster believes this is a serious abuse which needs rectifying. Alternative methods of fairly managing hospital car parks should be used instead, with parking companies getting a management fee only and not a fee based on issuing parking charges.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. Salford Royal has outstanding for the hospital. Their parking set up is the same! Barrier entry, token dispensed. On leaving token put into the meter, amount payable shown. Token charged up, exit barrier put in token, barrier opens and off you go! This model should be adopted by all hospitals.

    1. Barriers are indeed the ideal method of ensuring correct payment but even as we speak, Parking(sh)Eye(sters) are preparing to rip out a chip coin barrier system and replace it with their useless ANPR $cameras,
      Perhaps Parking(sh)Eye(sters) made out 19 separate cheques and placed them into 19 separate envelopes for the Council planning committee.

      Parking(sh)Eye(sters) Always Never Performing Respectably

  2. That's what Durham NHS Trust do too.
    Barriers are great for the public but useless to the generation of parking company profits.

    1. I wonder.....
      Did PE have planing permission for the ANPR and signs under the Town and Country Planning Act. Some sort of complaint to the council would be in order. In fact all instances of an ANPR car park adjacent to a public highway should be reported as not having planning permission.
      Can you just imagine if all the car parks without permission were subject to complaints at the same time?
      Let#s just do it please. Pick a car park where you are then make an official complaint.

    2. We had a letter from Barnet Council which stated that no planning permission had been applied for in respect of the signs and cameras. This was one of the other points of defence, that the signage was unlawful, and therefore any contract created by it should not benefit the Claimant under the ex turpi causa rule.

      But the Judge ruled that as no enforcement notice or criminal charges had been issued by the Council, illegality had not been established, and that point of defence could not succeed.

    3. I've often wondered how the planning consent defence would be received by a court but I am disappointed by the view that 'illegality had not been established'. Surely the illegality is established by 224 (3) of the 1990 act, "...........if any person displays an advertisement in contravention of the regulations he shall be guilty of an offence.........". Obviously, another Judge might take a different approach but an excellent Parking(sh)Eye(sters) spanking all the same.

    4. Sounds like the judge made the right call to me to be honest. If illegality hasn't actually been established it would be wrong to try that case in the trial of a separate matter.

    5. David Carrod - do have access by chance to a case reference - or even a transcript/summary of judgement for that Barnet case? My case against ParkingEye is upcoming and I have the advertising consent issue in my defence. I have got the local authority to issue an enforcement order so would hope the judge would accept the signage invalid on that basis.

    6. The case reference is at the top of the blog. The judgment is only available if someone pays for a transcript (typically £200), and this usually takes a few months.

      So in short, sorry - no transcript!

    7. Thanks Prankie. I wasn't sure that the case David C was describing was the same one. Suspected as much regarding the transcript - will have to live without that!

  3. This case should be brought to the attention of the local press. Put pressure on the top brass!

    1. I like your thinking but the 'top brass' in this particular situation are the BPA Ltd and the DVLA. The pair of them have a proven track record in dealing with pressure by placing their hands in their pockets and whistling nonchalantly in the opposite direction.

    2. presumably referring to the hospital...

    3. Yes I mean the hospital top brass. See the recent press story here, this was a perfect opportunity to make the people who sign the contracts with PPCs squirm!

  4. ...complaint to the ICO required over the Subject Access request refusal too.

    1. Refusal of a Subject Access Request is a breach of the 1998 Data Protection Act for which compensation can be claimed under section 13.

  5. I would just Like to personally thank the Prankster, Mr Mustard, and D Carrod for all the help they gave me. The work they do is invaluable, fighting back against these thieves who prey on the sick and the uninformed in hospital car parks. I am annoyed that the lack of planning issue was not considered the reason B.C have not taken action is not because there is no illegality it is because they have bigger fish to fry, a lack of staff, and too many other cases to deal with. Thanks again PP :-)

  6. Anpr machines should only be used in criminal matters not civil so they are in breach of data protection act and also they dnot prove who was driving so no contract

  7. "She also commented that ParkingEye's signage only talks about ‘parking’, and doesn’t claim that the clock starts ticking once you pass the ANPR cameras".

    This is a very important statement, because PE judge an overstay in their carparks by the time registered by the ANPR cameras. That is evident by the photos they issue a PCN - claiming an overstay which show the times registered by these cameras . The times registered by the ANPR cameras NEVER indicate the length of time a car was parked.