Wednesday, 31 May 2017

PCM lose Heath Parade claim

PCM UK v Ms C. 31/05/2017. C1GF92FF. Clerkenwell & Shoreditch

This MSE thread gives the full story.

The motorist stopped in a layby for under 2 minutes when there was an issue with her brakes. PCM claimed she was parked, and filed a claim for £235.50. The motorist filed a counterclaim for £250 for a breach of the data protection act.

PCM UK sent an advocate, Mr Akbol, who attempted to give Ms C more papers on the day; she resisted.

The judge dismissed the claim on 2 counts;

1. The grace period was, according to the claimant's evidence, 3 minutes, which isn't enough time to pull up, get out of the car, read the terms and leave.

2. Forbidding language on the signs - the largest sign saying NO CUSTOMER PARKING AT ANY TIME. This is echoed in the Claimant's sign.

The counterclaim was dismissed "because at the time of the event the Claimant had enough reason to believe a contract existed between the driver and them and it would be unfair to expect the Claimant to first conclude there was a contract agreement before pursuing the DVLA for details"

No costs were awarded to either party.

Prankster Note

The claim there is a grace period at this site appears to be false. All reports to the Prankster are that Ms Sunglasses appears as soon as a car stops and immediately begins snapping. There have been reports for instance, where a car stops, a person immediately alights to read the sign, then immediately returns to the car and leaves - yet still gets a parking charge.

Data Protection breaches occur at all parts of the process, not just the initial enquiry to the DVLA. Moreover, it is the parking companies responsibility to understand the law. So if their signage is forbidding, there would never be a good reason to believe a contract existed with any motorist. Parking companies have lost enough cases on this point (and they all read the Prankster blog) so that it could reasonably bes established they are well aware they are issuing charges which have no basis in law. The Prankster therefore believes the judge got the counterclaim decision wrong.

It seems yet another parking company have been conned into making a no-hope claim by the greedy bunglers at Gladstones. Gladstones are run by Will Hurley and John Davies. Will Hurley and John Davies also run the IPC, a trade association given permission by the DVLA to access keeper details. It beggars belief that two incompetents who have such a poor grasp of the legal issues around parking, (as evidenced by their growing track record of losing parking cases), are allowed to run a parking trade association.

PCM UK, you've been Gladstoned!

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Millennium lose in Port Talbot

Millennium v 'JackBasta' Port Talbot C2GF3V4A 31/05/2017. DJ Bennett.

This thread on MSE contains the full story.

Millennium were resurrecting an old parking charge dating back to the summer of 2012.

The motorist represented themselves. Millennium were represented by their employee, India Beavan. The claim was filed by those well-known incompetents, Gladstones Solicitors, with the factually challenged Helen Cook signing the claim.

India is a former bartender from Li'l London, has a law degree from Swansea and is now Head of Appeals & Litigation at the Millennium Group

The motorist was fully prepared to challenge right of audience. However, as Ms. Beavan is an employee this does not apply. They didn't need to worry too much - District Judge Bennett tore her a new one anyway.

The Judge started off by listing out all the documents in the bundles, and asked if there was anything missing. The motorist told her there should be two emails complaining about the Claimant's Witness Statement being a month late.

The Judge asked Ms Beavan why their Witness Statement was a month late without asking the court for permission.

"Don't know."

The motorist complained that the Claimant having a month to view their Witness Statement before submitting their own Witness Statement put them at a disadvantage. The judge didn't agree as there was nothing in their Witness Statement that wasn't "standard", and it was still received a month ago, so she would allow it.

The Judge then went on to the landowner contract and asked why that contract was dated 2015, 3 years after the event.

"We do have a proper one".

"Why didn't you use it then?"

"Don't know."

At which point the motorist raised the fact that all the pictures of the signs were a number of years out too. The Judge asked Ms Beavan why.

"Don't know."

Then the Judge moved onto the crux of the defence - they were going after the motorist as the registered keeper, had no proof who was driving, and the incident was pre-POFA.

Ms Beavan stated they were going after the motorist as the driver. The Judge asked for proof of the driver. Ms Beavan said "We don't have any".

At which point the Judge said "You've pretty much fallen on your own sword here. I'm dismissing the claim."

The motorist asked for costs at which point the judge produced the costs schedule put in with the defence.

The Judge explained that costs would only be allowed if the claim was seen to be unreasonable and for the reasons detailed above, this was judged to be an unreasonable claim.

Total awarded to the motorist; £197.34.

Millennium - you've been Gladstoned.

Prankster Notes

In the Prankster's opinion, Helen Cook should examine her competence in advising her client to take out a claim which was so hopeless the judge gave costs for unreasonableness. Perhaps her bosses Will Hurley and John Davies will schedule her for disciplinary action. Solicitors after all have a duty of care to their clients.

It is strange Ms Beavan did not know why her own witness statement was filed late. After all, it is pretty much a template regurgitated every case, and she is after all Head of Litigation. If they did have a contract in force at the time of the event, it does seem strange that they did not file it as evidence.

Millennium were confused as to the amount owed.  The signage says £100. The parking charge notice was for £150. The zatpark amount was £75. The court claim was for £125 plus other charges.

Additionally, the Parking Charge Notice had the IPC logo at the bottom even though the IPC did not exist at the time and Millennium were members of the BPA at the time, and therefore was clearly a fake.

There were 2 other cases at Port Talbot today. The Prankster has no idea how Ms Beavan fared with those.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Motorist awarded £900 for data protection breach by parking company

D6GM2199 CEL v Mr B, Bury County Court, before DJ Osborne

This thread on MSE details the story of a motorist awarded £900 because a parking company committed data protection breaches against him.

The parking company was Civil Enforcement Limited (CEL), who have a long history of making bogus inflated court claims and then discontinuing if a robust defence is filed.

Mr B. was the vehicle keeper but was not the driver on the day. As CEL do not use keeper liability, they had not valid claim against the keeper. In addition, and aided bylaw firm Wright Hassall, they artificially inflated the claim from £100 to £300 by adding spurious amounts. Mr B filed a counterclaim for breaches of the data protection act. True to form, CEL discontinued the claim, which left only the counterclaim to be decided.

Barry Beavis assisted Mr B in preparing the paperwork and acting as his lay representative.

The case was heard by DJ Osborne at Bury. The DJ was initially critical of the defendant for failing to file papers and obey court directions.

However, he then interviewed Mr B as witness, establishing the validity of the counterclaim and the distress caused.

In his judgment DJ Osborne ruled a data breach had occurred, the tort of damages was applicable and that £500 was not an unreasonable amount in the circumstances.

He added an additional £405 in costs, part of which were awarded under rule 27.14.2(g) for the unreasonable behaviour of CEL.

He also stated he was disappointed in the claimant bringing an unfounded case, and in the behaviour of Wright Hassall who were otherwise a respectable law firm.

Prankster Notes

It is important to obey all court instructions. Witness statements and evidence need to be filed on time, otherwise a winning case can be lost by procedural errors.

A number of cases have now established that a data protection breach can occur when a parking company pursues a charge which is not valid, or an over-inflated charge, or both.

The size of damages will depend on the facts of each individual case .This case establishes that a claim of £500 is not unreasonable for the particular circumstances of today's case.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

Saturday, 13 May 2017

UKPC lose residential case. Will victim get costs before UKPC are wound up?

C8HW3P0T – UKPC v Miss B, before District Judge Jones. 12/05/2017

UKPC were represented by Mr Elfer (not a practicing solicitor or a regulated barrister). Bargepole appeared as the Defendant’s Lay Representative. £1590 was claimed, for multiple tickets for parking at her own residence.

This was a residential parking case, for which Barry Beavis had assisted with the defence submissions. The main defence points were:

1/ Miss B had a tenancy agreement, predating UKPC’s appointment, which granted her rights to park without the need to display a permit.
2/ Ticketing bona fide residents was not within the purpose of the scheme
3/ The signage forbade unauthorized parking, therefore there was no consideration and so no contract
4/ There was no evidence of a chain of authority from the landowner to the Claimant
5/ This was clearly distinguishable from ParkingEye v Beavis

Bargepole wasn’t going to challenge the Claimant’s advocate’s Right of Audience, as the Defendant wanted this done and dusted on the day, with no adjournments. But as it turned out, he didn’t need to. The DJ started by asking all the parties who they were, and in what capacity they appeared. Mr Elfer stated that he was there as a Lay Representative. After a few seconds of stunned silence, the DJ asked if Bargepole had a copy of the Lay Representatives order, and Bargepole directed him to s3 (2)(a), which says that a lay representative can only represent a party if the client attends.

Mr Elfer argued that in CPR PD 3, a judge has discretion to hear any person, even if excluded by the Order, and that it would be in the interest of the overriding objective to allow him to speak.

The DJ agreed that he could exercise discretion. However, the Claimant had not notified the court that their Witness, Mr Kieran Ali, would not be attending, and had not previously notified the Court that they wished the hearing to be conducted by a person who was not an exempt person under the LSA 2007. They had not notified the Defendant of any of this either, and this potentially disadvantaged the Defendant who would not have had the opportunity to question the Witness in a case involving complex issues.

The ruling was that the Defendant had acted entirely properly in complying with Court directions, and arranging for a lay representative to put their case, whereas the Claimant had not. Therefore, Mr Elfer could not represent the Claimant in the absence of any representative of the Claimant company.

Bargepole then directed the Judge to CPR 27.9, dealing with non-attendance of parties, and he agreed that this applied. He would ignore all of the Claimant’s submissions, and based on the Defence argument that the Defendant had an unfettered right to park granted by their tenancy, the claim was dismissed.

On the subject of costs, Bargepole  referred to the Costs Schedule sent by the Claimant’s legal representatives, SCS Law, which the Defendant had received a few days ago, and Bargepole only became aware of on the morning of the hearing. This document set out total costs £651.20, including the £70 filing fee and £115 hearing fee. The other £466 was an inventive matter of pure fantasy, including £195 for drafting a witness statement, a £105 advocate fee, and £96 ‘fixed fee for issuing claim’, despite the claim form already including the standard £50.

Bargepole  submitted that this was not only an abuse of process, but also a deliberate attempt to mislead the Court and the Defendant, and possibly crossed the threshold of Contempt of Court. As such, it was evidence of unreasonable behaviour by the Claimant, which, together with their unreasonable behaviour in failing to discharge their obligations to the Court, meant that additional costs could be claimed under CPR 27.14(2)(g).

Miss B was therefore awarded a total of £170.80, to include Bargepole's advocate fee. Bargepole also asked the Judge to make the costs payable within 7 days, as UKPC are due in the High Court on 22 May for a winding-up petition by HMRC, and Miss B wanted the costs paid before they went out of business.

Bargepole also advised Mr E to submit his invoice ASAP, if he expected to get paid for his work today.

Prankster Notes

Parking companies are well known for submitting fictitious costs. This time it backfired on them.

Even if UKPC had sent a proper advocate, they had little chance of winning. In a residential claim, the lease will usually overrides any signage erected by parking companies, although the actual wording will be key and may vary from claim to claim.

The point of a residential scheme is not to penalise the residents, but to stop non-residents abusing the spaces, and parking companies would do well to keep that in mind.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster