On the 29th of May 2015, AS Parking allegedly ticketed a vehicle in the Main Car Park Port Isaac, Cornwall. Which is curious, because the vehicle was registered with the DVLA on July 31st 2015.
Nonetheless, Super-Kev at AS Parking applied to the DVLA at some point in August 2015 for the keeper details, which came back as a fleet management company, and proceeded to issue a Notice to Keeper.
The Fleet Management company replied with a “this vehicle was not registered at the time, please check your details” type of letter, along with a copy of the V5 confirming the date of registration. The issue seemed to have been dropped as no reply was received, and the fleet management company carried on with their daily processing of dozens of PCNs. Regardless of the compliance with POFA 2012, the fleet management company maintain their professionalism by responding to each NtK as if they were fully compliant.
For reasons still unknown, AS Parking then sent a final reminder in June 2016, nearly a year after their initial Notice to Keeper. In July 2014 a document from Messrs’ Hurley & Davies arrived, pertaining to be a Letter Before Claim. Clearly as an error has been made, the Fleet management company provided a copy of the V5 in reply, along with a covering letter. It’s usually prudent and sensible to be upfront in such instances, and potentially save a lot of work further down the line.
Alas, it was futile.
On July 19th 2016, a claim form from Northampton arrived with the fleet management company, suggesting that £237.77 should be paid to AS Parking. Needless to say, this was acknowledged, however before a lengthy defence was submitted, the fleet management company tried to apply some common sense to the issue.
Another letter to Gladstones was sent on July 22nd, along with a letter to AS Parking, and also the landowners - St Endellion Parish Council, who in their infinite wisdom not only agreed to let AS Parking “manage” their site at Port Isaac, but also refused to acknowledge the clear error in the claim, and their Parish Clerk suggested that the fleet management company should submit the defence and continue the debacle.
In the interest of transparency and fairness, (something that seems to elude the business empire of Hurley & Davies), the fleet management company again highlighted the error to Gladstones on August 4th. No reply was received, although a number of read receipts were returned by the email.
Needless to say a defence was submitted, covering the usual aspects of keeper liability, landowner authority, challenging whether it was even relevant land under POFA, but also highlighting the clear error in issue date and registration date.
August 16th, 2016, correspondence was received at the Fleet Management company from Gladstones confirming receipt of the defence and the intention to have the case “heard on the papers”. Not a chance – this particular fleet manager is well aware of the tricks and tactics of Gladstones, so refused to accept this offer, and again the clear error was highlighted.
It also occurred to the fleet manager that this case would likely be heard in Truro, something of a 700 mile round trip and involving an overnight stay. Again in the interests of transparency. All parties including the landowner were notified that the costs claimed in defence could be significant. No reply was received from any of the other parties.
Imagine the surprise of the fleet manager when notification from the court was received on August 30th to confirm the case would be heard in Manchester – a nice commutable distance, but not quite as picturesque as Cornwall.
Once again, the fleet manager reminded all parties that the case was continuing despite the clear error in the claim. Once again, nobody responded.
And then it all went quiet. Had somebody seen sense? Had the claim been discontinued? On October 10th 2016, a letter from the courts was received, and scheduled a hearing for January 2017...in a court not 2 minutes away from the Fleet Management company.
On the 19th December 2016, a hearing fee was paid, so it looked like the fleet manager was going to have to prepare for a short trip to court, but decided to worry about it after Christmas, because just how much preparation would be needed to show two individual documents to a District Judge?
At some point over Christmas, the greatest living legal minds in Cheshire had something of a Eureka moment, because on December 31st, a Notice of Discontinuance was filed with the court.
The fleet manager is now a little disappointed at missing out on the opportunity to face the mighty Gladstones in court. Despite the regular court claims received by the company, to date, none have gone to a hearing. Gladstones seem happy to pursue individual people all the way, but seem very reluctant to face up to corporate entities in court room. How could they argue that a Ltd company was the driver, on the balance of probabilities? And how do they argue keeper liability when even POFA recognises that the Keeper and Registered Keeper are not necessarily one and the same?
Helpfully, a certain QC called Jonathan Kirk (you may have heard of him from Parking Eye v Beavis) very successfully argued that distinction in front of HHJ Burgess – Regina (House of Cars) -v- Derby Car and Van Contracts Limited  but we’ve not had the opportunity to test this in front of a judge yet.
Maybe next time…
Legal muppets William Hurley and John Davies continue on their misguided mission to bring the legal profession into disrepute.
Their firm Gladstones Solicitors had no fewer than 9 chances to recognise their utter dereliction of duty to their client, and failed each time. Their strategy of reducing costs by ignoring all communications from defendants is now well established, but fails all legal guidelines.
It must be said Gladstones were lucky that the defendant was a company. Had the defendant been a person then they may have had a rather large data protection claim against AS Parking.
As it is perhaps they may still look forward to a word from the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
AS Parking...you've been Gladstoned!
It has to be noted that Hurley and Davies strategy of non-communication is not only a characteristic of the Gladstones business, but is also the way they run the IPC and the IAS. The Prankster has seen a large number of complaints against both the IPC and IAS. Without fail they receive template replies which do not address the complain and dismiss the complaint without Hurley and Davies having to lift a finger apart from to press the print 'Fob off' button.
Not only that, but they deliberately make the complaints process as difficult as possible, requiring it to take place online and requiring a large amount of personal data seemingly unconnected to the complaint.
The Prankster calls on the government to remove ATA status from the IPC until they provide a proper complaints procedure which genuinely considers complaints.