Monday, 23 January 2017

VCS discontinue another Albert Street claim

Vehicle Control Services v Ms O. C8DP9D8C 23/1/2017. Birmingham. Allocation hearing, Employment Judge Hodgson

This sorry state of affairs began in 2014 when Ms O purchased a ticket to park in Albert St, Birmingham. Unfortunately, due to one or other of the well-publicised flaws in their Metric parking machines, the ticket did not register back at head office and Ms O was issued a parking charge notice. She disputed the charge for several years until eventually BW Legal filed a claim on behalf of VCS.

Ms O filed a defence stating that she had purchased a valid ticket and that in any case the signage at the car park was in the name of Excel, not VCS. VCS therefore had no rights to bring a claim. Ms O also filed a counterclaim for £250 for breaches of s13 of the Data Protection Act 1988.

BW Legal bluffed and blustered, filing a 3 point reply to defence stating they found it embarrassing.

The court

VCS sent a local solicitor. Ms O had a lay representative from the British Motorist Protection Association.

Ms O's representative, who we will call Mr Happy introduced himself to VCS's representative, who we shall call Mr Angry. Mr Angry told Mr Happy that VCS were discontinuing the claim. Mr Happy expressed his delight and said that just leaves the counterclaim then. Mr Angry flew into a rage and said the counterclaim was preposterous and had no merit and should be struck out. Mr Happy said, backing off, that he would rather leave all that to the judge, and bade his farewell until the hearing.

The Allocation Hearing

Employment Judge Hodgson accepted the discontinuance notice and asked if Ms O still wanted to counterclaim. She did. He then went through the particulars of claim with a fine tooth-comb, picking up some areas which he wanted clarifying. He then ordered that new improved particulars of counterclaim be filed, VCS to file a new defence to the counterclaim, and the case be allocated to the small claims track in February 2017.

Prankster Notes

It is hilarious that BW Legal, the masters of the non-compliant particulars of claim, are calling a detailed 7 page defence embarrassing. Obviously it was so embarrassing they felt the need to discontinue the claim before a judge got their teeth into it.

This is now the 3rd claim regarding the Albert St car park where VCS have filed a claim and then discontinued when the defendant pointed out that the signs were in the name of Excel Parking.

VCS v Zozulya A8QZ6666
VCS v Ms M. 3QZ53955

VCS did eventually get round to changing the signs. The Prankster is not sure of the exact date. However, all motorists taken to court by VCS for alleged contraventions at this car park should raise the point that the signage is not in the name of VCS, and so there can be no contract with them, and should also consider a counterclaim for data protection breaches.

Filing a counterclaim stops VCS grandstanding you and then pulling out at the last moment, trying to avoid costs.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. Unusually the Prankster is half asleep on the job. Gladstones are the masters. That much is undeniable. BW Legal are just also rans.

    1. I'm not so sure about that. Gladstones have undoubtedly set the benchmark for incompetence, but BW Legal are now running them very close indeed.

  2. Employment judges do not sit a the county court.

    1. Nevertheless, the judge for the allocation hearing at Birmingham County Court was Employment Judge Hodgson

    2. I understand Simon Renshaw-Smith is the expert on Judges' fitness to serve in the courts ;) If only he was an expert on fitness to run a car park :)

    3. Bernard Hodgson is an Employment Tribunal Judge, but he was sitting as a District Judge of the county court. Any ETJ has no jurisdiction. Period.

    4. How he was sitting would be a matter for the court. His title on all the documentation was Employment Judge. if the court messed up by putting him forward under that title, then so be it. I don't think either VCS or Ms O will be complaining.

    5. There is no such thing as an ETJ in the CC.

      here is the PD

      1.3 For the purpose of this Practice Direction, in the County Court—
      (a) ‘Circuit Judge’ means, in addition to a Circuit Judge, all judges of the Senior Courts, including retired and deputy judges of those courts, Recorders and Upper Tribunal judges (including the Senior President of Tribunals, Chamber Presidents, deputy Presidents of the Upper Tribunal and deputy judges of the Upper Tribunal, but excluding District Judges and District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts)) and the Judge Advocate General; and
      (b) ‘District Judge’ means all other Courts and ***tribunal judges***, and High Court Officers (for example, Masters and Registrars), including deputy or temporary High Court Officers, who are judges of the County Court under section 5 of the County Courts Act 1984.

      The documentation should be returned to the court for correction.

      We do things right here, its the only way.

  3. So they have changed the signs on site now? But has anyone checked which entity holds the current contract with the landholder? Might be worth checking.

    1. Excel have the contract with the landlord. VCS have a contract with Excel. THe motorist would have a contract with VCS. So there appears to be a correct chain of authority now. Sadly for SR-S, he does not own a TARDIS and so cannot backdate the signage.

    2. I'm struggling to get my head round that relationship, it sounds like an assignment from Excel to VCS, or a novation which would require the LL's signature or that VCS is an agent of Excel in which case the claimant would be Excel not VCS.

      To do so otherwise would appear to amount to champerty or maintenance.

      Perhaps I am missing something but the contract would have to allow for assignment or subcontracting at least.

  4. My letters from BW sometimes refer to their client as Excel, when it is actually VCS. But then at one stage they said the claim was for a cheque that was not honoured, although I have never sent them any payment. Bouncy or otherwise. All correspondence kept so it can demonstrate the "embarrassing" nature of their claim.

  5. I think asking for £250 is bit mean. I would go for more but the court fee limit goes up over £300

  6. Hiya, what is the current situation with Albert st. carpark and parking notices by VCS? We have ignored their intimidating letters since June last year, so they dont know the driver. Just as we'd hoped not to hear from them again, a couple days ago a County Court Business service letter landed to our doorstep. Would you have an advice on how to proceed with the issue at this stage? Many thanks