In 2014 Mr Bush briefly visited an Excel car park (Providence Street Wakefield) to drop off his friend. He stayed only long enough to do this, and then drove to another car park (Trinity Walk) where he parked up, ran some errands and ate some food. He then returned to pick up his friend, reversing in the car park entrance (but not actually entering the car park), and left.
He was therefore a little surprised ten days later to receive a parking charge for staying two hours in Excel's car park, from 18:12 to 20:15.
He appealed to Excel, but they turned this down and then harassed him for two years before eventually filing a claim.
Mr Bush did not retain his ticket, but did pay by card. His bank sent him a letter timing the purchase at 20:05
The important point to note is that Trinity Walk is a barrier controlled car park. The only way you can get a ticket is by driving a vehicle up to the barrier. The only way you can get your vehicle out is by putting the ticket in a pay machine.
This is therefore pretty conclusive proof that Mr Bush was parked in Trinity Walk, and was not parked in Providence Street.
Mr Bush made many efforts to get Excel to drop the case, but all these fell on deaf ears.
Excel Parking handed the claim management to BW Legal, who used Elms Legal to provide an advocate for the claim. They in turn used a free agent, Miss Devans-Tamakloe, a barrister in search of chambers.
Miss DT was handed a bit of a hospital pass by BW Legal, as they did not give her Mr Bush's witness statements and only gave 1 piece of the 19 pieces of his evidence. Nevertheless, she managed a creditable performance.
Mr Bush had a lay representative from the British Motorists Protection Association, Mr PP.
The hearing was in front of DJ Dodd, a former associate of LPC Law. Ms Dodd explained the procedures for the benefit of the lay representative, arranged for photocopies of the witness statement to be provided for Miss DT and agreed with both parties there were no legal issues to consider. The claim was purely on the facts.
Miss DT then took the floor, working through the witness statement of Sohail Ismail, a litigation executive employed by BW Legal. Most of M. Ismail's statement was not relevant, being a BW Legal template witness statement. There was a section attaching Mr Bush's defence but sadly most of that had been copied and pasted from another claim, and therefore was entirely irrelevant. The only statement addressing the actual defence accused Mr Bush of lying using fact his brake lights were on.
All parties scrutinised the picture of the car exit for some time, looking for the brake lights, but were unsuccessful. Miss DT hazarded a guess that there was a white spot which might have been a brake light. DJ Dodd was not convinced.
Miss DT then explained that what the witness actually meant to say was not that the brake light was on, but that the reversing light was off. Mr PP objected that as the witness was not there they should go with what they had said, not what they might have meant to say.
Miss DT rested her case.
Mr PP asked if could point out several other anomalies in the witness statement but DJ Dodd refused. As there was no witness present, there was nobody to cross-examine.
Mr PP then took Mr Bush through his witness statement. DJ Dodd was critical about the presentation of the evidence as it was not numbered and therefore very hard to find. Additionally, some had suffered in the printing process and was not readable, as the court had printed the emailed evidence pack in black and white.
A key moment occurred when Mr PP whipped out the picture of the car park Mr Bush had actually parked in. DJ Dodd asked what the relevance was. Mr Bush, under questioning, explained the picture showed this was a barrier car park and you could not get in unless you took a ticket to raise the barrier, and could not get out unless you put the same ticket in the payment machine, and paid the due amount. The due amount matched the amount confirmed by the bank.
Mr Bush's evidence contained a lot of information regarding ANPR inaccuracy and DJ Dodd ruled Mr Bush could not be questioned on this as he was not an expert witness.
Mr PP then summed up by stating Mr Bush had produced a credible and consistent version of events backed up by evidence and that Excel had produced nothing to address the accuracy of their ANPR and it was up to the claimant to prove their claim. DJ Dodd stated that was up to her to decide.
She then made her judgment.
She stated the claimant's witness statement apparently showed the car exiting and leaving. However, it was signed not by an employee of the parking company but by an employee of their solicitor and so she would give it due weight on that basis. Moreover, Mr Bush had made ANPR accuracy his only defence from day, and the witness statement did not address this in the slightest.
Mr Bush on the other hand, was a credible and honest witness, and claimant had done nothing to address the purchase of a ticket in another car park. Mr Bush had also put a huge amount of work into his bundle.
She therefore preferred Mr Bush's version of accounts and the claim was dismissed.
Mr Bush asked for his lay representatives travel costs based on unreasonableness. DJ Dodd refused to accept Excel were unreasonable in pursuing the claim.
Mr Bush asked for a day's lost wages as he had to take a holiday. DJ Dodd replied that if he took a holiday there were no lost wages, that he had not brought along any proof of what he earned and in any case only needed a half day off. Lost wages therefore were refused.
Printing costs were refused.
Mr Bush's travel and parking costs of £5.25 were allowed, to be paid by 30th November.
After the hearing DJ Dodd commended Mr Bush on the quality of his evidence, stating that that was the only case she had seen today where the defendant even bothered with a witness statement.
She also mentioned she had found for the defendant in a similar claim the previous week where Excel had claimed the defendant has parked while they were actually in a restaurant several miles away - the car park has two exits and is used as a rat-rn to cut off a corner.
Mr Bush stated he would now never use Excel's car park and would always use Trinity Walk, which was cheaper, safer, well-lit and more reliable.
Lessons to be learned
- Number the pages of your evidence and provide a contents page
- Bring along a wages slip to show proof of wages
- Send a schedule of costs to the court ahead of time
- If your claim is block-listed then this would be a good reason to take a whole day off
The Parking Prankster