VCS v Ms E at Sheffield. DJ Weir
This case was for a parking event at Smyth Street in Wakefield. This suffers from the same Excel/VCS cock up as Albert Street does - the signage is in the name of Excel parking, but VCS issue the parking charges. As any contract can only be between the motorist and Excel, VCS have no rights to issue or enforce charges.
The motorist was assisted by the BMPA in preparing paperwork and with guidance, but represented themselves in court. VCS instructed BW Legal who got Elms Legal to provide Mr Pickup as their representative.
Ms E court report
When I first went in I mentioned the rights of audience but Deputy Judge Weir (I think that was his name) dismissed this and said as this was the small claims court it did not apply there! I said I had been advised to raise this but he dismissed me again saying anyone can represent anyone and given that Mr Pickup was a barrister he was more than qualified so I didn't want to push my luck any further.
At my first opportunity I mentioned I was puzzled how my ticket and therefore contract was with Excel Parking yet the claim is with VCS and the witness statement was from BW Legal? The judge said he would come back to these points and asked Mr Pickup to ask me any questions he had. His focus was on why I hadn't mentioned they had offered to settle for £10 in my first appeal to them. I said that my letter to them was to point out they had not considered my second point being an apparent lack of adherence to POFA 2012. I commented to the judge that I found this puzzling. The Judge said we could come back to this later and I had made it clear in my witness statement to him anyway.
Mr Pickup also wanted to know why I failed to mention in my witness statement that I failed to disclose who the driver wa. He went on quite a bit about this but the judge jumped in and said that as I had acknowledged that I bought the ticket from Excel, I entered into the contract with them and as such he wanted to see the evidence of the contract between Excel and VCS.
Mr Pickup could not produce anything and tried to have it dismissed by questioning why I am only just mentioning this. The judge then pointed out that I had mentioned it earlier in my witness statement and went on to read it. He agreed a 10 minute adjournment to allow Mr Pickup to produce some evidence on this point. Mr Pickup was unable to produce anything the Judge was happy to use as evidence. He tried to argue that they are sister companies so are linked but the judge appeared understanding to the situation but wasn't being swayed on this.
The judge then dismissed the case on the grounds that the barrister, a Mr Pickup, "representing VCS" was unable to produce a contract to show that VCS can bring this case on behalf of Excel parking and link this to the permission from the landowner.
I then raise the question of my costs and produced them. VCS, or rather Mr Pickup had not seen them, so he looked at them as did the Judge but unfortunately the Judge would only consider actual costs for attending. I wasn't out of pocket from work and had paid £2 to park. He said I was entitled to claim £2 if I so wished. I said that would be quite ironic if I did given the circumstances which he found quite humorous and said irony was not lost in here!
I pushed again for him to consider my other "research costs" and all my wasted time in the defending the case. He praised the fact that while it was clear that the thorough research had indeed resulted in the case being dismissed he said he was unable to allow any other costs as he could only do this if the case was found to be malicious or ill founded (or a term similar to that) and as the case was dismissed he could not make a judgement or look further at the evidence to conclude this had been the case.
At the end te just advised Mr Pickup feedback to VCS that they need to make their terms and conditions clearer to reflect the Excel/VCS link not only on their paperwork but also in their signage. Also the quality of the photographic evidence and lack of contract they send to the court were poor.
The judge also advised me to always ensure I check terms and conditions in future.
It feels bittersweet just now, while it is great that it was dismissed I do think that VCS should have paid costs too. What does make me feel good is that I was up against an apparently "experienced" barrister (I have since seen his name mentioned, all related to parking cases) and he didn't win this case!
Mr Pickup does indeed feature a lot in parking cases. As any reader of this blog or follower of his career will know, he specialises in trying to misdirect judges away from the legal issues, since these leave him in a hopeless position.
Instead, he tries to put motorists in bad light by claiming they have failed to name the driver. Of course, it is his client's responsibility to do this, not the defendant.
The Prankster also considers that any real barrister would know the proper legal situation regarding contracts. It is first year legal 101 hat only the parties to a contract may sue on the contract. VCS are not a party to the contract between Excel and the motorist and so have no right to sue, sister company notwithstanding.
The Prankster therefore questions whether Mr Pickup has the right qualifications and knowledge for the job he is doing. Alternatively, if Mr Pickup is fully aware his clients have no case, The Prankster questions Mr Pickups morals in taking on these cases.
The Prankster also questions the judge for not awarding costs. VCS had zero hope of winning this claim as they were not a party to the contract between Excel and the motorist. The judge could therefore have awarded costs under the unreasonableness rule, 27.14(2)g.
The Parking Prankster