Court Report by John Wilkie
B5QZ3F1M MIL Collections v Dan N, a BMPA/PPA co production.
Dan N parked in the car park of an old Pub in Whitby, intending to use the facilities. He found that the place was now a takeaway, and bought food there, but foolishly crossed the road, at which point a Parking Attendant from Combined Parking Solutions jumped on his car and wrote out a NtD.
After a gamut of nasty letters from the PPC, this alleged debt was sold to MIL Collections, who decided to take Mr N to court for the £100 ticket, £50 debt collection charges, and £75 of some sort of ill-defined costs including the issue fee at Northampton.
As a result, Mr N contacted the BMPA, where the case was passed to PPA, and allocated out to John Wilkie. A defence was filed, the court offered mediation, which Mr Bargepole agreed to do, the offer being "MIL pays costs to date". This was refused by MIL, unwisely as it turns out.
The hearing was listed for today. MIL's evidence was supplied on 23 March and signed by the famous Matt Murdoch, twice, with two different signatures. The evidence pack had more holes than the traditional swiss cheese, and having pointed these out in a skeleton served yesterday, MIL emailed John Wilkie (not Mr N, or the court) at 3.52 yesterday saying they would seek an adjournment.
On arrival at court, the court knew nothing about this adjournment, and we were therefore awaiting Mr Murdock. Mr Murdoch/k didn't arrive, but Ms Rehman, a local agent, did. She was the same local agent as Oldham on Friday last week, and had been provided with almost as much information by MIL - she hadn't seen the skeleton, and skim-read it while taking instructions, which were, of course "adjourn for 56 days".
Called in, the Judge stated that the Claimant asking for an adjournment due to their own evidence is rare to say the least, and Mr Murdoch/k's failure to attend made it difficult to proceed, but he was not prepared to grant an adjournment, specifically because MIL had known about this matter for at least a week. As a result, MIL's conduct wasn't reasonable, and he was going to strike out the case.
Invited to seek costs, we did so, and successfully argued Unreasonableness. Ms Rehman suggested the costs weren't reasonable, and the judge pointed out that they didn't have to be, they only had to be
such that he would permit in the circumstances.
Travel and Loss of Earnings were awarded for the customer, and over £150 in travel costs for my attendance - and MIL sent home with a(nother) flea in their ear.
With John Wilkie now at 19-2 in parking cases, this does make something of a mockery of parking company claims that all parking charges are now enforceable following the Beavis case. Rather, The Prankster suspects that the Beavis case has emboldened parking companies to file cases for all kinds of flimsy claims which they would not have dared filed before. HHJ Moloney's decision to try and find reasons why motorists defences could be struck out therefore seems to have followed the law of unintended consequences, and increased the number of court cases rather than reduced them.
On the plus side, The Prankster hears that the corner-shop in Truro outside MIL's offices is doing a roaring trade in JW effigies, candle-wax and pins.
Talking of MIL, The Prankster wonders why MIL emailed John Wilkie when they have expressly ordered him never to contact them by email again.
The Prankster also feels sympathy for Ms Rehman who was parachuted in at the last minute for a case where MIL failed to to follow court procedures from the outset, filing claims with undue haste, failing to answer part 18 documents and attempting to adjourn a case at the eleventh hour when they were aware of the issue over a week before.
The Prankster also notes that Combined Parking Solutions usually conduct cases themselves and have a very good record when Mike Perkins appears on their behalf. The Prankster therefore cannot understand why they risked their previously claimed 100% enforceable ticket record by passing this case to a no-hoper organisation like MIL - unless of course they realised it was something of a hospital pass and not enforceable.
MILs strategy of asking to adjourn cases when they know John Wilkie will be representing the defendant does not seem to be a viable long term strategy. The Prankster suggests they next time they get an offer from Bargepole, they take it.
If you get a notice from MIL that they are seeking an adjournment you must still turn up to court - if you do not, and they conveniently forget to notify the court, you could find yourself losing by default.
Only stay away if you have contacted the court to confirm the hearing will not take place, and preferably got written confirmation.
The Parking Prankster