D2HW1A2M – UKPC v Mr L, before District Judge Cawood, Southampton
Guest blog by Bargepole
Claimant represented by Mr Carmichael (a proper solicitor)
Defendant represented by me as Lay Rep
This was a case I picked up from the Pepipoo forum. The Claim was for £2,560 + fixed costs, for 16 tickets accumulated at the Defendant’s previous residence.
His wife had been the Leaseholder of the property, and the Lease granted exclusive use of a numbered space, with no mention of any need to display permits, or to pay penalties to a third party. Primacy of contract was therefore the strongest defence argument, and all of the relevant authorities supporting this point had been included in the bundle.
I agreed with Mr Carmichael beforehand, that we should ask the Judge to rule on that point as a preliminary matter, because if the defence succeeded on that, everything else was irrelevant.
But when we went into Court, the DJ started laying into the Claimant’s advocate, saying that they had filed a bundle comprising 400 pages, and how was he supposed to deal with that in a 2 hour hearing. He also said their Particulars did not address the point made by the Defence about the Lease, and they hadn’t explained how their contract with the managing agent could constitute a variation to the lease terms.
It got worse. He then turned to the redacted contract in the Claimant’s bundle, saying the Directions had clearly said that the original should be produced. I then pointed out that, even if the copy contract could be admitted as valid evidence, that didn’t assist the Claimant. The party named on the contract was “The Residents of Park Centrale C/O Hazelvine Ltd”. Hazelvine are the managing agents, but there is no legal entity such as the residents, or any unincorporated residents’ association, and the Defendant had lived there for five years and never heard of them. The contract was also for 12 months, and dated 2013, so didn’t cover the dates in question. The DJ said he needed to consider what weight to give to that evidence, the answer being zero.
The DJ then returned to the central point, which was that the case could not proceed unless the Claimant could show whether and how the Lease terms had been varied. He said that the Claimant should have requested permission to amend their Particulars pursuant to CPR 17.1, once they had sight of the Defence. Mr Carmichael requested a short adjournment to take instructions, and went off to phone SCS Law.
Upon his return, he asked if he could make a verbal application now, under the informal procedure of the small claims track. The DJ was having none of that, saying that the Defendant was already at a disadvantage because the Claimant’s witness was not there to be cross-examined.
So he gave his Judgment. He said that the Claimant’s solicitor was attempting to pull rabbits out of a hat, and that wouldn’t work in his court. The Claimant was a Limited Company with extensive resources, and had used solicitors to conduct their case. If he allowed an adjournment for the Claimant to file new particulars, it would then probably be re-listed a few months later for a full day hearing, which was not a proportionate use of Court resources. He also noted that the Defendant had had this hanging over him for several months, and it would not be just or fair to make him wait longer for the outcome.
Claim dismissed, and so on to costs. The ordinary witness costs of £103.60 were agreed without argument, and we had filed and served a costs schedule for further costs based on unreasonable conduct under CPR 27.14(2)(g). The DJ said that the Claimant’s behaviour had been negligent rather than unreasonable, but he did allow a Lay Representative fee of £105, so a total of £208.60 awarded to the Defendant.
Rupert William's UKPC is a disreputable company which has survived two prosecutions by Trading Standards, and widespread fraud by their wardens doctoring time-stamps on photographs to falsely accuse motorists of overstaying.
Now they have been caught issuing tickets at a place where it seems impossible they had a valid contract.
It the DVLA are to keep handing out keeper details, some form of balance and control is needed to protect the public from rogues and charlatans, and some form of appropriate penalty is needed to curb irresponsible behaviour. If the DVLA are too scared to ban parking companies, then perhaps some lesser penalty is needed. The Prankster suggest it might be appropriate that motorists get automatically paid £100 by the parking company if a ticket is found not to be valid.
Oh yes, and congratulations to Bargepole for another excellent court appearance.
The Parking Prankster