Court Report From Bargepole
St Albans County Court – MIL Collections v Ms G – case no. B0QZ3H5F – before District Judge Cross
I had previously encountered DJ Cross two years ago, in this case: http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4969435
He’s a stickler for the rules, and could give anyone (even me) lessons in pedantry, so it was important to make sure all our paperwork was spot on. The original ticket had been issued for ‘leaving site’ by JAS at Staples, and it was the usual MIL rubbish claim with no proper Deed of Assignment specific to this defendant or amount, and with a ‘witness statement’ signed by the ephemeral ‘Matt Murdoch’.
When we arrived at Court, I handed the Usher a preliminary application, stating that we believed the claimant’s witness statement had been signed by a fictitious entity, was probably perjurous, and should be disregarded. This was sent through to the Judge’s chambers.
We were called in first, just after 2pm, and DJ Cross said that as there was no appearance for the Claimant, he was going to dismiss the claim. He made it clear that it would have made no difference if they had shown up, because the Deed of Assignment in their evidence pack was simply a general agreement between JAS and MIL, and it made no specific reference to this Defendant or alleged amount due.
We applied for costs, both ordinary costs for loss of earnings, travel etc., and further costs due to the claimant’s unreasonable conduct. The Judge asked on what basis we alleged unreasonable conduct, and I pointed out that MIL had pursued the case all the way to court when they had no cause of action, and referred him to copies of other judgments (Bowker, Capaldi, Singh) where full costs had been awarded under CPR 27.14 (2) (g).
He awarded a total of £195.80, including all the defendant’s normal costs, an additional 3 hours x £19 at the LIP rate, and my Lay Rep costs for attending.
All done and dusted inside 10 minutes.
It does seem bizarre that a company can make huge sums of money from claims which always fail in court simply by playing the legal system - file large numbers of claims and take the money from people who are intimidated by court; but not bother to defend claims if it does go to a hearing.
The Prankster has heard that MIL are now trying to save money by discontinuing claims when they know the defendant has done their homework. Apparently there has been a flurry of Notices of discontinuance and at least one strike-out (failure to return N180).
There have also been late notices requesting adjournment, possibly as a result of the stayed cases in Oldham and West Cumbria.
The Prankster recommends always checking with the court to see if the case really has been discontinued or stayed, and turning up if you cannot get confirmation, taking with you any paperwork.
If MIL discontinue then you should write to the court claiming your costs, charging your time at £19 at the litigant in person rate. State that MIL had no hope of winning the case as their claims are being dismissed all over the country, and you are claiming under CPR 27.14 due to their unreasonable conduct.
The Parking Prankster