Dr Bird v CP Plus. C6QZ6Y27. 30/08/2017. Guildford County Court in front of DJ Bell
Dr Bird received an unsolicited invoice from CP Plus for a parking event at Clacket Lane Services which did not occur. The make, model and colour of the car in the Notice to Keeper were not the same as Dr Bird's car.
CP Plus had therefore failed to check the details after receiving keeper and vehicle information from the DVLA. This was therefore a breach of their KADOE contract with the DVLA. The DVLA agreed with Dr Bird that no parking charge should therefore have been issued. Dr Bird also investigated Clacket lane and found an entrance apparently not covered by ANPR cameras, which means that no parking charge for that site can be considered valid, as it would be possible to leave and return without being logged.
Dr Bird therefore made a claim against CP Plus for breaking the Data Protection Act 1988. He asked for £750 for distress.
CP Plus failed to respond to his letter before action, but did file a defence.
The claim reached the mediation stage in December 2016 with CP Plus denying that they are liable for their errors. It is interesting to note they make their money from drivers making "a human error" but deny all liability when the error is on their part.
On Tuesday 22 August 2017 Russell Corin rang Dr Bird claiming to be from CP Plus and asking for his email address as they wished to use a solicitor to reach a settlement agreement. Dr Bird received the email at 11:00pm on Thursday 24 August from Derek Millard-Smith of JMW Solicitors. JMW are the solicitors recommended by the British Parking Association to their members.
Dr Bird decided to reject the offer, and instead proposed a counter-offer. Derek Millard-Smith rejected that and proposed another offer, which was again rejected.
Derek is the self-acclaimed leading lawyer in the UK Parking Sector and also claims to be able to save client's reputation and to maximise damage limitation. However, it seems he was unable to work his magic this time around.
The main bone of contention was that Derek Millard-Smith wanted a gagging clause so that Dr Bird could not make the result public. Although he offered more money that was actually claimed, Dr Bird felt he would rather make the result public than be gagged.
On the 29 August Dr Bird received an email from Russell (who actually works for Ranger Services) stating that they had paid £810 into his account and apologising for not being able to attend court the next day.
Dr Bird attended court anyway due to the lateness of the payment. He asked for costs for unreasonableness on this basis.
DJ Bell's approach was that the case had been settled as they had paid the amount claimed and the defendant did not attend the hearing.
He refused costs on the grounds that their behaviour was not unreasonable even though their late settlement did cause considerable inconvenience to both the court and Dr Bird.
Dr Bird was unlucky not to get costs for unreasonableness. Only last week Nicholas Bowen QC was awarded £1550 costs when ParkingEye failed to turn up to pursue their claim against him.
Practice direction 27.9 stated that parties must give 7 days written notice if they are not going to attend. However, parties are also encouraged to settle claims right up to the courtroom door and so the judge had to balance the two conflicting requirements.
CP Plus have previously claimed that no DPA claim has ever been successful against them. This is obviously no longer the case, and they have now lost a claim for £750 plus costs.
Gagging clauses are common in DPA related parking cases as the parking companies do not want the public to know they have paid up to settle a claim.
The Parking Prankster