UKPC vs McCarthy 15/12/2016 Luton C2HW10Q1
UKPC were claiming £900 for 6 unpaid parking tickets on a residential site. Mr McCarthy was counter-claiming harassment for 40 or so wrongly issued tickets. UKPC were using SCS law to process their claim.
I met Mr Taylor, the representative of SCS, at the door of the courts and after a brief chat I found him to be a nice enough man and who told me he represents SCS and UKPC on numerous occasions as a freelance solicitor in various regions of the country. We entered the court and the judge explained to me how the proceedings would go (as I wasn't legally trained) and that I would hear UKPC's arguments first and then would be allowed to give my account.
Mr Taylor of SCS pitched his claim first. The witness statement given by UKPC had stated that they had a copy of my lease, but they had in fact attached a copy of another apartment block (not connected) altogether. However they had spotted this and at the court brought a copy of my lease (handed to them by the managing agent) and stated it was an error in submittal.
The judge allowed them to submit this. The lease stated that "I would not park in an obstructive location in the communal areas". I did object to my lease being handed in on the day as I had no time to cross-reference or check if it was my lease at all but the judge stated that we could do one of two things; first being proceed on the assumption it is my lease or stop proceedings and obtain my lease from the land registry. I chose to let them proceed.
Mr Taylor stated that they had been employed by my managing agent to manage the site and that there was a legitimate interest for doing so referencing the Beavis case.
There were 6 tickets in total being claimed referenced a-f with two issued before the DVLA investigation of UKPC and 4 after. Mr Taylor went on to state that each ticket was issued and then when not paid passed on to debt recovery companies etc to bring the claim up to circa £900.
My opportunity came to speak. I referenced my witness statement and the points raised in the statement.
My first point was that the contract UKPC were operating under was dated 2012 for a period of 3 months. However the judge ruled that the contract carried on by conduct and as UKPC were still on site the contract was deemed to be in place.
My next point was that the contract stated that it was on the basis that UKPC operated within the rules of the BPA and that they had not been. I touched on the signage being unilluminated and there not being a P sign at the front of the premises which has now been put in place. I had attached a copy of the British Parking Association t&c's and code of practice to my statement but did not bring a copy to the court and did not make my point clearly enough on this. The judge did have a copy but failed to review and in haste I did not prompt her to.
My next point was that the signage was strictly prohibitive and that it did not allow parking and as there was no offer to park beavis did not apply. With the managing agent sending my lease over I don't think this argument stood.
I also stated that I was not the driver that my brother and wife both used my car. I stated that UKPC had not followed the rules of schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act as the tickets and notice to keeper did not have the time periods stipulated on them nor did they show any grace periods. Again unfortunately I did not have schedule 4 with me as I naively assumed that the judge would have had this information. Perhaps I should have asked to stay proceedings until I had the information printed as she had offered to do with my lease. In judgement the judge stated that it was most unfortunate I did not have this with me to rely upon.
My main point was the reference to the mail online article I had included in my witness statement regarding the practice of UKPC doctoring tickets. I argued that during the period they had been suspended by the DVLA their equipment was obviously not adequate and open to fraudulent activity. In her judgement she agreed.
UKPC's witness statement said that this was an isolated incident in one region of the country however the judge stated that they had failed to say what region of the country (perhaps cunningly) and that it could have been Watford. For this reason the judge dismissed the first two tickets in UKPC's claim as they were issued in 2014 and early 2015. I argued that UKPC were still doing this as my car was never parked in the location during the time periods they were saying it was and said in court I am fully stating that UKPC are still doctoring tickets. I made no exception and stated that was exactly what I was saying. Mr Taylor of SCS stated that it was highly unlikely that a company already found guilty of doctoring tickets would continue to do so and the judge in her statement agreed on this point as she had no evidence to show that they were still carrying this out.
I raised the point that I was counterclaiming for harassment and that although we were discussing 6 tickets issued that I had in fact received between 30 to 40 tickets and I had attached numerous emails I had complaining to my management company that the tickets were issued out of the time scales and days that the scheme was not in operation. On a few occasions the managing agent had replied apologising and stating that they had brought up the issue with UKPC. Mr Taylor in his statement said he did not want to even touch on my harassment claim as he believed it fell "so foul of outlining harassment under the act".
The judge however in her statement stated that she believed I was a credible and truthful witness and that I had been clearly upfront about everything from the start and during cross examination. She stated that with the 30/40 tickets I would have received chasing letters and debt recovery letters. That UKPC would have obtained my details from the DVLA incorrectly and for that I would have felt distressed and alarmed by this. I was claiming £1000 but did not reference a precedent to this which she felt was unfortunate. However she said in the absence of this that she found in my favour for the exact amount of the four tickets she had found in favour of UKPC tickets (£580) with us both having to pay each others costs.
Having seen a copy of my lease the judge found in favour of UKPC on four of the parking tickets. She stated that it was most unfortunate that I did not have the POFA sch4 and BPA guidance with me.
Both parties asked for leave to appeal, which was refused.
This was an extremely creditable performance by Mr McCarthy up against an experienced advocate. If this hearing could be held again, it is likely Mr McCarty would succeed in getting all the charges cancelled. Sadly, time travel is not yet possible.
The case underlines the need to bring copies of everything to court with you. This is why lawyers always trundle around with huge suitcases - they are full of paper relating to their cases. Bring a copy for yourself and a copy for the judge. You should have already sent the other party a copy. Although it shouldn’t be necessary to print out statutory legislation - judges all have terminals on the desk linked to the MoJ portal where they can easily look up statutes - this case shows you cannot rely on the judge putting in the legwork.
The judge correctly pointed out that the DVLA was accessed incorrectly. This would be a breach of data protection regulations, and for each breach an amount would be payable.
The case of Vidal-Hall v Google Inc  EWHC 13 (QB) provides authority that misuse of personal data is a tort and that damages may be non-pecuniary. The case of Halliday v Creation Consumer Finance Ltd  All ER (D) 199 provides authority that a reasonable sum for compensation would be £750.
The case of VCS v Phillip, claim number C9DP2D6C Liverpool 07/12/2016, while not binding, concerns a motorist awarded £250 when the DVLA details were accessed with no cause.
A sum of £250 per breach would therefore seem to be in order.
Mr McCarthy can now consider claiming £250 for any tickets where UKPC accessed the DVLA incorrectly. This would be for a data protection breach, separate to the harassment claim. As there are 30-40 of these tickets, a claim of £7500 - £10,000 would be in order, and Mr McCarthy may want to get legal advice before embarking on this.
Of course, any new tickets invalidly issued by the parking company can also be added to the claim.
The Parking Prankster