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  • FIRST POST
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 14th Sep 17, 11:57 AM
    • 20Posts
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    Dollshouse
    County court advice needed
    • #1
    • 14th Sep 17, 11:57 AM
    County court advice needed 14th Sep 17 at 11:57 AM
    I have a few days before the deadline for sending an Acknowledgement of service and I need to decide whether or not to defend.


    I don’t want to give out identifying details because I am gathering evidence and don’t want to alert the claimant about my defence until I have to. So I will explain the basic facts without giving away too much.


    The driver was visiting a friend in a town some distance away and they went into town in the evening. She told the driver to park in a private car park which she was convinced was a free car park in the evening. When the driver returned to the car a Notice of Parking Charge was stuck to the windscreen. Working on out-of-date information it was thrown away. When paperwork arrived at my home address I threw it all away (I know, I know, you don’t need to say it). Now I have a County Court claim against me.


    Because I have none of the paperwork I think my defence will have to rely entirely on the signs at the car park. I think I have a very strong case but and I want advice on whether or not I can win.


    There is a prominent notice at the entrance to the car park that indicates it is a free customer car park. The car park is unlit but there are street lights on the street at the front. There are the fairly standard private car park notices further back in the car park. The trump card seems to me to be the sign saying it’s a free car park. The lettering of the word ‘free’ is about 95mm high, the sign is at the entrance is at eye level and positioned where headlights hit it at night. The car was parked just inside the entrance after dark and no other signs were looked at before parking.


    There are private car park notices around the car park but these are all further back and all in positions where headlights would not hit them. They all have lettering much smaller than the big ‘free’ sign at the entrance.


    I have been and had a close look at all the signs and there are other contradictions in the signs. I have been told that it used to be a free car park and they have put up new signs but left the old signs in place.


    The new signs say: Terms and conditions ... Pay and Display ... breach of any term or condition will result in ... charge of £***... By entering or remaining on this land you agree to abide by all of the terms and conditions. In the middle of all the small print in letters 6mm high it says. Terms and conditions apply 24hrs a day... that is the only indication that they expect payment 24hrs a day.
    I don’t know if it matters but there are two sets of terms and condition on display. One set is in small print on the new signs and another set is more prominent and in much bigger lettering which I assume is from an earlier time and which make no mention of payment. Is that relevant? It does say on the new small sign that you have to abide by all terms and conditions.


    The friend knew it was a paying car park during the day but assumed it was free when the payment kiosk was not manned. I have spoken to another local who told me he also assumed it was free when the kiosk was closed and that he often parks there on Sundays without paying.


    I am still gathering evidence and now have, including me, four witnesses who are willing to make written statements.


    It seems to me that I have a very strong argument but I have doubts. I can’t believe they would be so stupid to try and take me to court if their case was so weak. Is their case weak or am I being niave?


    I have trawled through stuff on this forum and it all looks very complicated. My case seems very simple and straightforward to me but other defences on here have a large number of points. If I decide to defend would I really need to write such a long and complicated defence in such a short time?
    Last edited by Dollshouse; 15-09-2017 at 9:02 AM.
Page 1
    • nosferatu1001
    • By nosferatu1001 14th Sep 17, 12:25 PM
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    nosferatu1001
    • #2
    • 14th Sep 17, 12:25 PM
    • #2
    • 14th Sep 17, 12:25 PM
    Just acknowledge anyway
    You can always settle. THis just means you dont miss the deadline

    No, you dont just defend on that one point. You defend on ALL usual points - standing, signage, no keeper liability etc.

    So you edit your post above NOW and call teh driver "the driver". Nothing else.
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 14th Sep 17, 1:49 PM
    • 20 Posts
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    Dollshouse
    • #3
    • 14th Sep 17, 1:49 PM
    • #3
    • 14th Sep 17, 1:49 PM
    Thanks for your reply. I find it very difficult to understand all the points made in the lengthy and complicated defences. To write a similarly lengthy defence I would have to understand the exact relevance of all the points. I will keep reading.

    Most of the points made in most of the defences I have read are about the paperwork and I have no paperwork apart from the claim form send by the County Court Business Centre.

    Do they really have to claim in the name of the landowner? The claimant is the company who put up the new signs. And it appears to be a different company named on the parking tickets that they sell at the car park.

    Why would I claim no keeper liability? As I understand it, if I refuse to identify the driver then as the keeper I could be liable. The County Court claim says "The defendant was driving the vehicle and/or is the keeper of the vehicle."

    Why would I want to say that they aren't following the British Parking Council code of practice regarding signs? Surely they aren't bound by law to do that.

    I'm sorry if these questions are too basic and are answered elsewhere but there is an enormous amount of mixed up stuff to trawl through.
    • Coupon-mad
    • By Coupon-mad 15th Sep 17, 12:42 AM
    • 51,584 Posts
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    Coupon-mad
    • #4
    • 15th Sep 17, 12:42 AM
    • #4
    • 15th Sep 17, 12:42 AM
    Do they really have to claim in the name of the landowner?
    No, probably not, if their contract allows the parking operator to sue.

    The claimant is the company who put up the new signs. And it appears to be a different company named on the parking tickets that they sell at the car park.
    That's a point of defence, but you know you would get much more bespoke advice if you trust us with the name of the parking firm. There is no need to stay secret, they will see the defence within a couple of weeks! Who was this?

    Why would I claim no keeper liability? As I understand it, if I refuse to identify the driver then as the keeper I could be liable.
    ...ONLY if the company has complied with every mandatory point of the POFA Schedule 4, from 'adequate notice' of the charge (on signs) to the wording and date of the Notice to Keeper they posted. Any slip and they an be argued not to be able to recover the charge from the keeper, so of course you argue 'no keeper liability' and let them prove it.


    Most of the points made in most of the defences I have read are about the paperwork and I have no paperwork
    Really, it doesn't matter. The PCN and letters will be in their evidence anyway and I would disagree that 'most of the points made in most of the defences I have read are about the paperwork'(?) as I would say that's not usually a feature of defences!

    Why would I want to say that they aren't following the British Parking Council code of practice regarding signs? Surely they aren't bound by law to do that.
    - Contract law says they have to have clear signs, or no contract with the driver is possible.

    - The Consumer Rights Act 2015 talks about transparency and mandatory clear and fair terms, not hidden in small print.

    - The POFA says there has to be 'adequate notice' of the parking charge.

    - In the Beavis case, PE survived their charge being condemned as a penalty, partly because they showed lots of prominent and very clear signs with the charge in the largest font, that Mr Beavis was 'bound to have seen'. It was vital.

    - The BPA CoP has rules that the Supreme Court said were akin to or 'practically regulation', and they placed a lot of weight on the fact they believed(ho hum!) that PE complied with the CoP. Judges would generally and reasonably expect a company to comply with rules set by their Trade Body. So does the CPUTRs 2008 in the section about misleading actions.
    Last edited by Coupon-mad; 16-09-2017 at 12:30 AM.
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 15th Sep 17, 8:59 AM
    • 20 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    Dollshouse
    • #5
    • 15th Sep 17, 8:59 AM
    • #5
    • 15th Sep 17, 8:59 AM
    Thank you very much for that helpful information.

    I have made an Acknowledgement of Service by using MCOL. I now have until the first week of October.

    Please bear with me for a few days. I will tell you who the companies involved are. I will tell you that it is an IPC company and I have a copy of their code of practice.
    Last edited by Dollshouse; 17-09-2017 at 8:51 AM. Reason: typo
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 19th Sep 17, 8:24 AM
    • 20 Posts
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    Dollshouse
    • #6
    • 19th Sep 17, 8:24 AM
    • #6
    • 19th Sep 17, 8:24 AM
    The solicitors are Gladstones. The claimant is ES Parking Enforcement LTD.
    The car park is operated by Parking Places LTD who run it as a pay and display but ES do the ‘enforcing’.


    During the day there is an attendant who sells tickets and the price of a day ticket is displayed prominently at the entrance on a moveable sign. At around 4.00pm the attendant removes the price sign to reveal a sign underneath that says ‘P FREE CUSTOMER’ very prominently in large letters. The attendant then closes up his cabin and leaves the site. I have been told that somebody comes around later with the parking charge notices.


    The car park is adjacent to a large retail premises which is closed and vacant and the car park would have been the free customer car park for that shop when it was operating. I assume there is at present no power supply to the car park which is why it is not illuminated. After dark the front of the car park, the entrance area and the large ‘FREE’ sign are lit by lights in the street but further back the car park is in relative darkness.



    After dark the few cars that are usually there are parked along the front of the car park where it is lit by the street lights. Nobody could be expected to go further back into the dark car park and find the smaller signs with very small lettering. Nobody would even think of doing that once they had seen a sign saying FREE.


    The forum won't let me post photos.
    • bargepole
    • By bargepole 19th Sep 17, 9:00 AM
    • 2,145 Posts
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    bargepole
    • #7
    • 19th Sep 17, 9:00 AM
    • #7
    • 19th Sep 17, 9:00 AM
    ... I can’t believe they would be so stupid to try and take me to court if their case was so weak. Is their case weak or am I being niave?
    Originally posted by Dollshouse
    Have you read the Parking Prankster blogs?

    Gladstones routinely take cases to court which are even weaker and more flimsy than this one.

    They rely on ignorance of the general public as to defence points, and dozy District Judges who don't bother to properly examine the evidence.

    But in most cases, the Judges will throw out their pathetic court bundles, and often criticise Gladstones for wasting the Court's time, while making a further costs award to the Defendant for the Claimant's unreasonable behaviour.
    Speeding cases fought: 24 (3 of mine, 21 for others). Cases won: 20. Points on licence: 0. Private Parking Court Cases: Won 29. Lost 9.
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 19th Sep 17, 9:50 AM
    • 20 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    Dollshouse
    • #8
    • 19th Sep 17, 9:50 AM
    • #8
    • 19th Sep 17, 9:50 AM
    Thanks bargepole. I've read a bit about Gladstones but unfortunately I have to assume they will turn up in court and I do need to write a good defense.

    I've looked at some of the defenses in the newby post and I can't see one that is mainly concerned with misleading and inadequate signs. I could do with some pointers.

    I wonder why there has been no discussion of the Nicholas Bowen case on this forum. He was awarded £1550 costs and I wonder how he got to that figure. Can I claim a similar amount?

    Should I be writing anything to Gladstones at present? I have read a post on this forum saying you should write and ask questions about keeper liabilty. The problem is really can't get my head around this keeper liabilty question.
    • beamerguy
    • By beamerguy 19th Sep 17, 10:02 AM
    • 6,353 Posts
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    beamerguy
    • #9
    • 19th Sep 17, 10:02 AM
    • #9
    • 19th Sep 17, 10:02 AM
    Thanks bargepole. I've read a bit about Gladstones but unfortunately I have to assume they will turn up in court and I do need to write a good defense.

    I've looked at some of the defenses in the newby post and I can't see one that is mainly concerned with misleading and inadequate signs. I could do with some pointers.

    I wonder why there has been no discussion of the Nicholas Bowen case on this forum. He was awarded £1550 costs and I wonder how he got to that figure. Can I claim a similar amount?

    Should I be writing anything to Gladstones at present? I have read a post on this forum saying you should write and ask questions about keeper liabilty. The problem is really can't get my head around this keeper liabilty question.
    Originally posted by Dollshouse
    Nicholas Bowen is a barrister and knows his way around
    the courts.
    His award is not normal and is not a precedent in county courts

    As a rule, judges will look over their glasses for such large
    amounts and as you are not a barrister, best to request
    normal costs.

    However, as said above, Gladstones are completely
    useless and highly incompetent

    Read this thread and do what is says

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5712763
    RBS - MNBA - CAPITAL ONE - LLOYDS

    DISGUSTING BEHAVIOUR
    • Umkomaas
    • By Umkomaas 19th Sep 17, 10:19 AM
    • 15,572 Posts
    • 24,322 Thanks
    Umkomaas
    I've looked at some of the defenses
    Unless this is going to an American court, you need to get the basics right. Defence/defences.

    I can't see one that is mainly concerned with misleading and inadequate signs. I could do with some pointers.
    Most defences will have a wide range of points to make; signage will be just one of them. Use other (linked in the sticky) defences as a framework around which to build your own. Use the wording structure, but don't copy and paste blindly, feed your own case into the wording while removing the bits relating to the original case.

    I wonder why there has been no discussion of the Nicholas Bowen case on this forum.
    There has.

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5709213

    He was awarded £1550 costs and I wonder how he got to that figure. Can I claim a similar amount?
    Once you've achieved barrister status and can browbeat a district judge into agreeing such an unusually high amount for a county court small claim case. You'll also need good reason for a punitive cost claim too. Harrassment has the bar set high.

    For what it's now worth (it's 9 months old) here's a thread which started with a draft defence for an ESPEL claim and some comments for improvement, but like many (despite the contributions made by volunteers to help them) the poster just didn't bother to update on the outcome.

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=71728574&highlight=espel+defence# post71728574
    Last edited by Umkomaas; 19-09-2017 at 10:22 AM.
    We cannot provide you with a silver bullet to get you out of this. You have to be in for the long run, and need to involve yourself in research and work for you to get rid of this. It is not simple. We will help, but can't do it for you.

    Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 19th Sep 17, 10:22 AM
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    Dollshouse
    I don't see why a barrister should be awarded more just because he is a barrister. The costs that are awarded are an insult. Gladstones's 'business plan' has already cost me more than the typical costs awarded.

    I read the thread about writing to Gladstones and I don't understand it. Is he saying I should write to them and ask to prove their whole case? Surely they do that in court. It says something about the correct address and the keeper. What's that about?
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 19th Sep 17, 10:41 AM
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    Dollshouse
    Thanks umkomaas. The Spittlefields case (linked to) is interesting for lack of the word 'contract' on the sign.

    I still don't understand the keeper address thing.

    Now I really must get back to work and stop spending so much time on this. I'm self-employed and it's costing me dearly.
    • beamerguy
    • By beamerguy 19th Sep 17, 11:16 AM
    • 6,353 Posts
    • 8,166 Thanks
    beamerguy
    I don't see why a barrister should be awarded more just because he is a barrister. The costs that are awarded are an insult. Gladstones's 'business plan' has already cost me more than the typical costs awarded.

    I read the thread about writing to Gladstones and I don't understand it. Is he saying I should write to them and ask to prove their whole case? Surely they do that in court. It says something about the correct address and the keeper. What's that about?
    Originally posted by Dollshouse
    You are right, it's all unfair but as the county court works
    on small claims, unless you know how to handle a judge,
    the barrister did, such a claim would not be easy.
    But, its your case, it's up to you how much you want to claim

    Writing to Gladstones denying any debt and requesting proof
    means just that. It will delay matters and as it is only 21 days
    before new court rules comes into place, by the time
    they respond new rules will apply and they will have hoops
    to go through which are not applicable now

    You are missing the point, yes they have to prove to a judge
    their case as much as you prove your defence
    By delaying this until the 1st Oct and beyond will create
    a lot more work for them which possibly will not be worth it

    They only work on small margins
    RBS - MNBA - CAPITAL ONE - LLOYDS

    DISGUSTING BEHAVIOUR
    • bargepole
    • By bargepole 19th Sep 17, 12:40 PM
    • 2,145 Posts
    • 6,200 Thanks
    bargepole
    Thanks bargepole. I've read a bit about Gladstones but unfortunately I have to assume they will turn up in court and I do need to write a good defense.

    I've looked at some of the defenses in the newby post and I can't see one that is mainly concerned with misleading and inadequate signs. I could do with some pointers.

    I wonder why there has been no discussion of the Nicholas Bowen case on this forum. He was awarded £1550 costs and I wonder how he got to that figure. Can I claim a similar amount?

    Should I be writing anything to Gladstones at present? I have read a post on this forum saying you should write and ask questions about keeper liabilty. The problem is really can't get my head around this keeper liabilty question.
    Originally posted by Dollshouse
    You certainly shouldn't be writing to Gladstones, although by all accounts they don't even bother reading incoming mail, all they want to do is to keep churning out their threatograms and roboclaims.

    On the question of signage, it was determined by the Supreme Court in the Beavis case that there was clear signage all over the car park, which gave adequate notice of the charge, and which could not fail to be seen. None of that applies to your case, so that's a point on which it can be clearly distinguished.

    Also in Beavis, there was never any dispute that he was the driver. But if the parking operator doesn't know the identity of the driver, they have to rely on Schedule 4 of POFA 2012 to hold the keeper liable. However, they can only do that if their Notice To Keeper complies with all the requirements of Section 8 (which applies to windscreen tickets). They almost certainly don't comply.
    Speeding cases fought: 24 (3 of mine, 21 for others). Cases won: 20. Points on licence: 0. Private Parking Court Cases: Won 29. Lost 9.
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 19th Sep 17, 2:49 PM
    • 20 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    Dollshouse
    But if the parking operator doesn't know the identity of the driver, they have to rely on Schedule 4 of POFA 2012 to hold the keeper liable. However, they can only do that if their Notice To Keeper complies with all the requirements of Section 8 (which applies to windscreen tickets). They almost certainly don't comply.
    I think I'm starting to understand what is being said. Are you saying that I should make it part of a defence in order to force them to have to prove I am liable as keeper and there is a chance they won't be able to do that? I don't have any of the paperwork so I don't know if they didn't get it right or not. Is this just to create more work for them in the hope that they will not want to do it?

    It seems to me taking a chance on them having made a mistake with the paperwork runs the risk of being seen as wasting the court's time. Isn't it better to concentrate effort on the points I think I have a very good chance of winning, the car park signs?
    • bargepole
    • By bargepole 19th Sep 17, 3:25 PM
    • 2,145 Posts
    • 6,200 Thanks
    bargepole
    I think I'm starting to understand what is being said. Are you saying that I should make it part of a defence in order to force them to have to prove I am liable as keeper and there is a chance they won't be able to do that? I don't have any of the paperwork so I don't know if they didn't get it right or not. Is this just to create more work for them in the hope that they will not want to do it?

    It seems to me taking a chance on them having made a mistake with the paperwork runs the risk of being seen as wasting the court's time. Isn't it better to concentrate effort on the points I think I have a very good chance of winning, the car park signs?
    Originally posted by Dollshouse
    It really depends on whether or not the defendant named in the court claim was the driver.

    If they were not, they should say so, and put the claimant to strict proof that their NTK was sufficiently compliant to invoke keeper liability.

    If they were, then there's nothing to be gained by arguing this point, as the Judge can always ask directly when they are in Court "Were you driving?".
    Speeding cases fought: 24 (3 of mine, 21 for others). Cases won: 20. Points on licence: 0. Private Parking Court Cases: Won 29. Lost 9.
    • Coupon-mad
    • By Coupon-mad 19th Sep 17, 11:20 PM
    • 51,584 Posts
    • 65,205 Thanks
    Coupon-mad
    The claimant is ES Parking Enforcement LTD.
    The car park is operated by Parking Places LTD who run it as a pay and display but ES do the ‘enforcing’.
    That's interesting - and important. Whose name is on the signs then?
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 20th Sep 17, 9:42 AM
    • 20 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    Dollshouse
    There is a notice saying, "Parking Places LTD terms and conditions Parking places limited accept no Responsibility for loss or damage to cars Parked in this car park or the contents thereof". That is an exact transcription with their capitalisation and punctuation. That sign is in lettering about 50mm high. There are two other notices that say the same thing all on the sides of the cabin.

    Higher up on the cabin there are some notices that say ES Parking Enforcement LTD and state different terms and conditions in much smaller lettering. These are the notices that mention a parking charge.
    Last edited by Dollshouse; 20-09-2017 at 9:44 AM.
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 20th Sep 17, 10:26 AM
    • 20 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    Dollshouse
    This is the same car park.
    There are links to photos.
    The last photo shows the big sign at the entrance that says FREE CUSTOMER CAR PARK

    aich tee tee pee //forums.pepipoo.com/index.php?showtopic=110308
    • Dollshouse
    • By Dollshouse 20th Sep 17, 10:33 AM
    • 20 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    Dollshouse
    A few of my photos

    aich tee tee pee etc //www.flickr.com/photos/152306484@N06/36482088444/in/dateposted-public
    aich tee tee pee etc //www.flickr.com/photos/152306484@N06/36482087104/in/dateposted-public/
    aich tee tee pee etc //www.flickr.com/photos/152306484@N06/37319927065/in/dateposted-public/
    aich tee tee pee etc //www.flickr.com/photos/152306484@N06/37129536896/in/dateposted-public/
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