01-12-2016 C2GF5R96 Minster Baywatch v Ms W. York
The motorist parked in a car park charging £1 for 12 hours. The motorist was perfectly willing to pay, but the machine was out of order.
Gladstones supplied their template witness statement stating that the motorist should have telephoned the parking company.
Minster Baywatch sent a young woman from their offices to represent them and Gladstones only passed on the defence documents to her the day before the hearing. She struggled with the judge's questions and couldn't justify how Minster Baywatch arrived at its costs. The main thrust of her argument was that they had not had any reports the machine was out of order and they would have issued more charges if it had been.
The defence waited until they received their documents from Gladstones, and submitted evidence which included a picture of the machine with a sign stating it was out of order, showing the date and time. She therefore had to accept the machine was out of order to the Judge - at which point it was game over.
He upheld the argument regarding frustration of contract caused by the out of order ticket machine and stated it was unreasonable to expect users to leave the car park if they had no access to a telephone to report the out of order machine or make payment. He also highlighted their signage did not make it clear the process that should be followed if the machine was out of order.
The judge pretty much ignored all the other points - stating it would be difficult to win the case based on them.
Without mentioning frustration of contract, the motorist would probably have lost.
Frustration of contract is discussed here.
It does not make sense for a parking company to charge motorists when their own equipment is faulty. That would mean they make more money than if they ran a proper service, and would therefore incentivise them to artificially break their own machines.
The Parking Prankster