In this latest case reported to The Prankster, Link Parking were taking action against a company, M. Ltd, in Taunton Court. Link Parking were represented by Mr Gibson, while M. Ltd sent their employee Mr G, and were represented by John Wilkie.
Mr Wilkie was late arriving due to the JW-mobile suffering a fuel pump issue. Luckily as he had rung ahead the court were tolerant of this. The Prankster advises defendants to take note and always contact the court if they are going to be late.
On arrival, Mr Wilkie met the solicitor for the claimant, Andrew Gibson - a local lad who was the latest recipient of a Gladstones hospital pass. Mr Wilkie enquired where Martin Gardner, of Link Parking, was -the witness statement said he would be attending court. Mr Gibson said he wasn't coming, to which Mr Wilkie pointed out the witness statement, and said the defendant would be seeking at the least an adjournment with wasted costs, which Mr Gibson agreed would be a reasonable thing to ask for.
The parties dabbled in evidence on a few points, and then were called in.
Once the hearing started, Mr Gibson gave way to the the defence to put the housekeeping point, and the judge was not amused. Having himself only just seen the witness statement (no copy filed, apparently) he also pointed out that the Particulars of Claim were entirely deficient in themselves, and directed the parties to the Exeter case where a similar Gladstones claim was struck out.
Mr Gibson was floundering at this point - he had been parachuted in this morning and it is difficult not to feel some sympathy with a solicitor handed a bundle of the quality he had to deal with. He accepted that the claim was initially deficient, but suggested, several times, that the matter could be decided today on the papers. Mr Wilkie pointed out that the witness hadn't given notice, and while this was Small Claims, it is still a matter of courtesy. He asked the judge to either dismiss the claim or adjourn with wasted costs and an "unless" stay.
The judge decided to go all the way to dismissing, and that meant the only argument left was costs.
Mr Wilkie used CPR 46.5 for his expenses, and claimed that this should be awarded under 27.14(2)(g) (unreasonable costs) - the judge concurred, and made a costs order for over £150.
The reasoning for the order was largely due to the fact that Mr Wilkie had managed to travel over 100 miles to assist the client at no advantage to himself, while Mr Gardner had not troubled himself to come 10 miles to present his case. Given further the deficiencies in the Claimant's case, particulars and witness statement, the judge found the Claimant to have acted unreasonably.
The judge mentioned that Mr Wilkie's name was known among his brethren.
Link Parking will have therefore shelled out something approaching £700 in order to try and speculatively recover £100. Once again Gladstones Solicitors are the only winners.
As the Notice to Keeper was not compliant with the keeper liability provisions, the Prankster considers that Link Parking had no reasonable chance of succeeding - a limited company cannot after all possibly be the driver.
Additionally no notice to driver was ever served. Although Mr Gardner's witness statement claimed it was, he offered no satisfactory evidence or even a copy in his witness statement.
When the Notice to Keeper was finally served after 58 days, Link Parking refused access to an appeals service unless M. Ltd paid a fee of £15, and then proceeded to court with indecent haste, ignoring M. Ltd's communications, and before the appeal window had expired.
The witness statement was full of holes, inconsistencies, bluff and bluster and untrue statements. The judge was obviously not fooled by it in the least.
However, the most worrying aspect of this case is that if M. Ltd had taken up Link's offer to use the IAS, then not only would they have had to pay £15, but would have had to agree to abide by the IAS's decision. As the IAS is well known to be a kangaroo court, with judges who are either incompetent or biased, they would have ended up having to pay the parking charge even though as we have seen the court ruled that there was no case to answer.
This throws the whole credibility of the IAS into question. Why should Will Hurley and John Davies be allowed to run an appeals service, when their record at Gladstone Solicitors clearly shows they have no idea of what does or does not constitute a reasonable case? The Prankster considers that the only reasonable way forward would be to remove the running of the IAS from the IPC and give it to an independent body. The code of practice should also be overseen by an independent body.
The Parking Prankster