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Court Claim Procedure (updated October 2016)

edited 11 November 2016 at 4:45PM in Parking Tickets, Fines & Parking
63 replies 57.2K views
bargepolebargepole Forumite
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edited 11 November 2016 at 4:45PM in Parking Tickets, Fines & Parking
1. You have received a Claim Form from a private parking company. It is not a summons, it is not a CCJ, it is what it says on the tin, and they (or their solicitors) are claiming that you owe them a specified sum of money, for alleged unpaid ticket(s). You must NOT ignore this (unless you really want to appear on Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away), and you have just 14 days to Acknowledge Service of the Claim.

2. You should now Acknowledge Service of the claim, ticking the box that says you will defend in full. Do NOT put anything in the 'Defence and Counterclaim' text box, not even a full stop. By doing this, you have extended the time to submit a defence to 28 days from date of service, which is the date printed on the claim form plus 5 days. Now it's time to burn the midnight oil, and research relevant defences on these forums. Only look at recent stuff, and don't just blindly cut and paste text, you must adapt it so that it's relevant to your claim.

3. Your Defence does not need to be War and Peace, but it must mention, however briefly, every point of fact and law that you intend to rely on. You won't be able to amend it or add extra points later without paying a court fee, but you can expand on the original points in more detail. The Defence should be headed 'In The County Court', then show the case number, the names of the parties indicating who is the Claimant and who is the Defendant, and have the word 'Defence' at the top, and at the bottom say 'I believe the facts stated in this Defence are true' then your signature and date. It should all be formatted with numbered paragraphs and pages, in Times Roman 12pt, with 1.5 line spacing. I recommend printing and posting (registered) to Northampton, trying to fit it in the online box destroys the formatting, and makes it hard for the Judge to read.

4. After sending off your Defence, the Northampton Business centre will send a copy to the Claimant, and then send a Directions Questionnaire (form N180) to both Claimant and Defendant. You must complete this by the date given, and send it back to Northampton, with a copy to the other side (or their solicitors if they've nominated one as the address for service). The recommended answers to the questions are as follows:
  • A1 = NO to mediation (they want the whole amount, you want to pay them nothing, so no scope for mediation. This will not go against you)
  • B = fill in all the details, name, address, etc
  • C1 = YES to small claims track – this is the limited costs track for claims up to £10,000 in value
  • D1 = name of your local County Court – unless you are a Ltd company, the case files will be transferred there
  • D2 = NO to expert evidence (this relates to medical negligence cases and suchlike)
  • D3 = 1 witness (that’s you) (or more if you are going to get another person to provide a statement)
  • D4 = Put down the dates of any pre-booked holidays, NO to interpreter (unless you need one).
Note: Gladstones are currently including a 'request for special directions' asking the Court to hear the case on the papers only, without an oral hearing. You should oppose this, and include the following text in D1: “The Defendant opposes the Claimant’s request for special directions, and requests that the case be listed for an oral hearing at the defendant’s home court, pursuant to CPR 26.2A(3)”.

5. The case file will then be transferred to your local County Court, and you will eventually receive a Notice of Allocation, giving you a date and time for the hearing. It will also specify a deadline for you to submit a Witness Statement, and any other documents you intend to rely on, usually 14 days before the hearing but sometimes earlier than that. Your Witness Statement can expand upon the points made in your original Defence, and must start with the following "I, Joe Bloggs, of 23 Acacia Avenue, Anytown, AN1 2BC, am the Defendant in this matter, and will say as follows". You should attach to your Witness Statement any evidence to support your assertions, eg photos of signage, etc. Optionally, you may also want to include a Skeleton Argument to flesh out the legal points, or you could include those as part of your Witness Statement.

6. On the day of the hearing, turn up at least 30 minutes before the listed time, give your name to the Court Usher, and make sure you know which hearing room your case will be heard in. These small claims cases are very often heard in a side room, and it will just be the Judge, you, and the other side's representative sitting around a table - no gowns, wigs or juries, and you won't be hauled off to Guantanamo Bay in an orange jumpsuit if you lose, so nothing to be scared of. Dress as if you are going to a job interview, address the Judge as Sir or Madam, and only address your remarks to the Judge, not to the other side. Be polite at all times, don't rant or get into an argument, and if the Judge is against you on one point, move on to the next. Also bear in mind that Courts often overbook cases, and yours may not be called at the scheduled time, so if taking time off work, it's best to book the whole day.

7. The usual procedure is that the Claimant gives a summary of their case, then the Defendant gives a summary of theirs. The Judge may interrupt at any point, and ask questions of either side. Having heard from both sides, the Judge will then sum up and give Judgment (a bit like Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, so keep quiet during this). if he finds for the Claimant, you will have to pay the amount on the Claim Form, plus a hearing fee (£25 if the claim is under £300). If he finds for the Defendant, the claim is dismissed, and you have nothing to pay. You can also ask the Judge to award your costs, which are max £95 for lost earnings, return mileage to court at 45p per mile, and parking. Payment is normally due within 14 days, so if you have to pay, make sure you do that and nothing will appear on your credit file.

As with most things, good preparation is the key - make sure you know your arguments back to front and inside out, and can articulate them well on the day.

Edit: Also see this thread about how to avoid irrelevant defences: http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=71597350#post71597350

NEWBIES - THIS THREAD IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. DO NOT POST QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR CASE HERE, YOU WON'T GET ANSWERS. PLEASE START A NEW THREAD OF YOUR OWN.

I have been providing assistance, including Lay Representation at Court hearings (current score: won 56, lost 14), to defendants in parking cases for over 5 years. I have an LLB (Hons) degree, and have a Graduate Diploma in Civil Litigation from CILEx. However, any advice given on these forums by me is NOT formal legal advice, and I accept no liability for its accuracy.
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Replies

  • Coupon-madCoupon-mad
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    Great summary of information, bargepole.

    I will link this in the NEWBIES thread to replace the older information link, when I get a mo this week.
    PRIVATE 'PCN'? DON'T PAY BUT DON'T IGNORE IT (except N.Ireland).
    CLICK at the top of this/any page where it says:
    Forum Home»Motoring»Parking Tickets Fines & Parking - read the NEWBIES THREAD
  • SystemSystem Forumite, Community Admin
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    You might want to underline the common failures by defendants

    1. Not acknowledging within 14 days.
    2. Failing to return the Directions Questionnaire on time.
    3. Not paying attention to the Notice of Allocation and the need for a Witness Statement/Pack within 14 days of the hearing date.
    4. Worst of all, doing all the work and not turning up ....
  • Coupon-madCoupon-mad
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    Good points IamEmanresu.

    And the classic:

    The person named on the claim form is the registered keeper but for some daft reason, the driver thinks they can defend the Claim in their name - nononono!
    PRIVATE 'PCN'? DON'T PAY BUT DON'T IGNORE IT (except N.Ireland).
    CLICK at the top of this/any page where it says:
    Forum Home»Motoring»Parking Tickets Fines & Parking - read the NEWBIES THREAD
  • chris.lewischris.lewis Forumite
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    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    Hi

    Quick question if the parking fine was £100 is that the max they can apply for in court? If not and they add fees are they limited?

    Chris
  • Coupon-madCoupon-mad
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    It's not the maximum they can apply for (they *could* in theory apply for a stupid amount) but the parking charge sum should be the maximum they can get, plus court fees. But small claims is a lottery and sometimes firms get the extra £50 or £60 they've artificially added as well.

    And sometimes the defendant wins the case so they can claim their own costs for attending.

    A defence can and should shoot down added indemnity or legal costs or debt collection or admin fees. Search this board for 'thin air' (honestly, just those two words) and you will find example defences from 2016 with wording objecting to attempts at double recovery by inflating a claim.
    PRIVATE 'PCN'? DON'T PAY BUT DON'T IGNORE IT (except N.Ireland).
    CLICK at the top of this/any page where it says:
    Forum Home»Motoring»Parking Tickets Fines & Parking - read the NEWBIES THREAD
  • hoohoohoohoo Forumite
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    Another option is email:
    https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/courts/county-court-business-centre-ccbc

    Claim responses & directions: [email protected]

    I believe you get an acknowledgement, so you can prove it was received.
    Add the claim number to the email subject line, and also the document name.
    Dedicated to driving up standards in parking
  • Unashamedly bumping this thread up
  • Kind_Of_IrritatedKind_Of_Irritated Forumite
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    :T This is a very helpful thread, especially for those competing with such outfits as Gladstones. I believe that by mentioning the thread I too may be "bumping it up". Thank you.
  • DollyDee_2DollyDee_2 Forumite
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    Think this should be on Page 1
  • Kind_Of_IrritatedKind_Of_Irritated Forumite
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    :jAgreed. Bump... bump...
This discussion has been closed.
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