MET Parking Stansted Help with POPLA stage.

Hello,

I received a NTK from MET Parking Services at BP Stansted airport.

The reason for the charge was Yellow Lines.

Following advice from the newbies thread, I have appealed to MET directly and have had this rejected.

I would like some guidance on the draft POPLA appeal and on whether to use photos of the signs obtained from the web as a part of the appeal (not taken by myself or driver at the time)

I am happy to post up all of the previous correspondence for review.

Please see below for my draft POPLA appeal *edited links out*. Many thanks in advance. :beer:

1) Non-compliance of Notice to Keeper with various requirements set out in Schedule 4 of POFA 2012.
2) MET Parking has not shown that the individual who it is pursuing is in fact the driver who may have been potentially liable for the charge
3)No evidence of Landowner Authority - the operator is put to strict proof of full compliance with the BPA Code of Practice
4) The signs in this car park are not prominent, clear or legible from all parking spaces and there is insufficient notice of the sum of the parking charge itself
5) Amount demanded is a penalty and is punitive, contravening the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
6) Authenticity of photographs


1) Non-compliance of Notice to Keeper with various requirements set out in Schedule 4 of POFA 2012.
a) If MET Parking Services did wish to make use of the Keeper Liability provisions in
Schedule 4 of POFA 2012, which they have not, the Notice to Keeper must meet the
strict requirements set out in Schedule 4 of POFA 2012;

Paragraph 9(5) states
The relevant period for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4) is the period of 14 days beginning with the day after that on which the specified period of parking ended.

The notice to keeper that I have received was dated 24 days after the date of contravention. Due to the oversight of this detail the notice to keeper does not comply with Schedule
4 paragraph 9 of POFA 2012 and means that myself, the registered keeper of the
vehicle cannot be held to account for the alleged debt of the driver/

b) MET Parking does not comply with requirement set out in paragraph 9(2)(f) which
states:
The notice must warn the keeper that if, after the period of 28 days beginning with the day after that on which the notice is given—
(i)the amount of the unpaid parking charges specified under paragraph (d) has not been paid in full, and
(ii)the creditor does not know both the name of the driver and a current address for service for the driverthe creditor will (if all the applicable conditions under this Schedule are met) have the right to recover from the keeper so much of that amount as remains unpaid;

MET Parking blatantly fails to mention the 28 days timeframe whereas it must have
set out clearly in the Notice to Registered Keeper when and in what circumstances
MET Parking would have the right to recover from the keeper the amount that
remains unpaid. Such omission invalidates the Notice to Registered Keeper that I received.



2) MET Parking has not shown that the individual who it is pursuing is in fact the driver who may have been potentially liable for the charge

In cases with a keeper appellant, yet no POFA 'keeper liability' to rely upon, POPLA must first consider whether they are confident that the Assessor knows who the driver is, based on the evidence received. No presumption can be made about liability whatsoever. A vehicle can be driven by any person (with the consent of the owner) as long as the driver is insured. There is no dispute that the driver was entitled to drive the car and I can confirm that they were, but I am exercising my right not to name that person.

In this case, no other party apart from an evidenced driver can be told to pay. I am the appellant throughout (as I am entitled to be), and as there has been no admission regarding who was driving, and no evidence has been produced, it has been held by POPLA on numerous occasions, that a parking charge cannot be enforced against a keeper without a valid NTK.

As the keeper of the vehicle, it is my right to choose not to name the driver, yet still not be lawfully held liable if an operator is not using or complying with Schedule 4. This applies regardless of when the first appeal was made and regardless of whether a purported 'NTK' was served or not, because the fact remains I am only appealing as the keeper and ONLY Schedule 4 of the POFA (or evidence of who was driving) can cause a keeper appellant to be deemed to be the liable party.

The burden of proof rests with the Operator to show that (as an individual) I have personally not complied with terms in place on the land and show that I am personally liable for their parking charge. They cannot.

Furthermore, the vital matter of full compliance with the POFA was confirmed by parking law expert barrister, Henry Greenslade, the previous POPLA Lead Adjudicator, in 2015:

Understanding keeper liability
'There appears to be continuing misunderstanding about Schedule 4. Provided certain conditions are strictly complied with, it provides for recovery of unpaid parking charges from the keeper of the vehicle.

There is no 'reasonable presumption' in law that the registered keeper of a vehicle is the driver. Operators should never suggest anything of the sort. Further, a failure by the recipient of a notice issued under Schedule 4 to name the driver, does not of itself mean that the recipient has accepted that they were the driver at the material time. Unlike, for example, a Notice of Intended Prosecution where details of the driver of a vehicle must be supplied when requested by the police, pursuant to Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, a keeper sent a Schedule 4 notice has no legal obligation to name the driver. [...] If {POFA 2012 Schedule 4 is} not complied with then keeper liability does not generally pass.'

Therefore, no lawful right exists to pursue unpaid parking charges from myself as keeper of the vehicle, where an operator cannot transfer the liability for the charge using the POFA.

This exact finding was made in 6061796103 against ParkingEye in September 2016, where POPLA Assessor Carly Law found:
''I note the operator advises that it is not attempting to transfer the liability for the charge using the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and so in mind, the operator continues to hold the driver responsible. As such, I must first consider whether I am confident that I know who the driver is, based on the evidence received. After considering the evidence, I am unable to confirm that the appellant is in fact the driver. As such, I must allow the appeal on the basis that the operator has failed to demonstrate that the appellant is the driver and therefore liable for the charge. As I am allowing the appeal on this basis, I do not need to consider the other grounds of appeal raised by the appellant. Accordingly, I must allow this appeal.''



3)No evidence of Landowner Authority - the operator is put to strict proof of full compliance with the BPA Code of Practice

As this operator does not have proprietary interest in the land then I require that they produce an unredacted copy of the contract with the landowner.

The contract and any 'site agreement' or 'User Manual' setting out details - such as any 'genuine customer' or 'genuine resident' exemptions or any site occupier's 'right of veto' charge cancellation rights, and of course all enforcement dates/times/days, and the boundary of the site - is key evidence to define what this operator is authorised to do, and when/where.

It cannot be assumed, just because an agent is contracted to merely put some signs up and issue Parking Charge Notices, that the agent is authorised on the material date, to make contracts with all or any category of visiting drivers and/or to enforce the charge in court in their own name (legal action regarding land use disputes generally being a matter for a landowner only).

Witness statements are not sound evidence of the above, often being pre-signed, generic documents not even identifying the case in hand or even the site rules. A witness statement might in some cases be accepted by POPLA but in this case I suggest it is unlikely to sufficiently evidence the definition of the services provided by each party to the agreement.

Nor would it define vital information such as charging days/times, any exemption clauses, grace periods (which I believe may be longer than the bare minimum times set out in the BPA CoP) and basic but crucial information such as the site boundary and any bays where enforcement applies/does not apply. Not forgetting evidence of the only restrictions which the landowner has authorised can give rise to a charge, as well as the date that the parking contract began, and when it runs to, or whether it runs in perpetuity, and of course, who the signatories are: name/job title/employer company, and whether they are authorised by the landowner to sign a binding legal agreement.

Paragraph 7 of the BPA CoP defines the mandatory requirements and I put this operator to strict proof of full compliance:

7.2 If the operator wishes to take legal action on any outstanding parking charges, they must ensure that they have the written authority of the landowner (or their appointed agent) prior to legal action being taken.

7.3 The written authorisation must also set out:
a) the definition of the land on which you may operate, so that the boundaries of the land can be clearly defined
b) any conditions or restrictions on parking control and enforcement operations, including any restrictions on hours of operation
c) any conditions or restrictions on the types of vehicles that may, or may not, be subject to parking control and enforcement
d) who has the responsibility for putting up and maintaining signs
e) the definition of the services provided by each party to the agreement


4) The signs in this car park are not prominent, clear or legible from all parking spaces and there is insufficient notice of the sum of the parking charge itself

I note that within the Protection of Freedoms Act (POFA) 2012 it discusses the clarity that needs to be provided to make a motorist aware of the parking charge. Specifically, it requires that the driver is given 'adequate notice' of the charge. POFA 2012 defines 'adequate notice' as follows:

''(3) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (2) 'adequate notice' means notice given by: (a) the display of one or more notices in accordance with any applicable requirements prescribed in regulations under paragraph 12 for, or for purposes including, the purposes of sub-paragraph (2); or (b) where no such requirements apply, the display of one or more notices which: (i) specify the sum as the charge for unauthorised parking; and (ii) are adequate to bring the charge to the notice of drivers who park vehicles on the relevant land''.

Even in circumstances where POFA 2012 does not apply, I believe this to be a reasonable standard to use when making my own assessment, as appellant, of the signage in place at the location. Having considered the signage in place at this particular site against the requirements of Section 18 of the BPA Code of Practice and POFA 2012, I am of the view that the signage at the site - given the minuscule font size of the £sum, which is illegible in most photographs and does not appear at all at the entrance - is NOT sufficient to bring the parking charge (i.e. the sum itself) to the attention of the motorist.

There was no contract nor agreement on the 'parking charge' at all. It is submitted that the driver did not have a fair opportunity to read about any terms involving this huge charge, which is out of all proportion and not saved by the dissimilar 'ParkingEye Ltd v Beavis' case.

In the Beavis case, which turned on specific facts relating only to the signs at that site and the unique interests and intentions of the landowners, the signs were unusually clear and not a typical example for this notorious industry. The Supreme Court were keen to point out the decision related to that car park and those facts only:

ht/tp:

In the Beavis case, the £85 charge itself was in the largest font size with a contrasting colour background and the terms were legible, fairly concise and unambiguous. There were 'large lettering' signs at the entrance and all around the car park, according to the Judges.

Here is the 'Beavis case' sign as a comparison to the signs under dispute in this case:

ht/tp:

This case, by comparison, does not demonstrate an example of the 'large lettering' and 'prominent signage' that impressed the Supreme Court Judges and swayed them into deciding that in the specific car park in the Beavis case alone, a contract and 'agreement on the charge' existed.

Here, the signs are sporadically placed, indeed obscured and hidden in some areas. They are unremarkable, not immediately obvious as parking terms and the wording is mostly illegible, being crowded and cluttered with a lack of white space as a background. It is indisputable that placing letters too close together in order to fit more information into a smaller space can drastically reduce the legibility of a sign, especially one which must be read BEFORE the action of parking and leaving the car.

It is vital to observe, since 'adequate notice of the parking charge' is mandatory under the POFA Schedule 4 and the BPA Code of Practice, these signs do not clearly mention the parking charge which is hidden in small print (and does not feature at all on some of the signs). Areas of this site are unsigned and there are no full terms displayed - i.e. with the sum of the parking charge itself in large lettering - at the entrance either, so it cannot be assumed that a driver drove past and could read a legible sign, nor parked near one.

This case is more similar to the signage in POPLA decision 5960956830 on 2.6.16, where the Assessor Rochelle Merritt found as fact that signs in a similar size font in a busy car park where other unrelated signs were far larger, was inadequate:

''the signage is not of a good enough size to afford motorists the chance to read and understand the terms and conditions before deciding to remain in the car park. [...] In addition the operators signs would not be clearly visible from a parking space [...] The appellant has raised other grounds for appeal but I have not dealt with these as I have allowed the appeal.''

From the evidence I have seen so far, the terms appear to be displayed inadequately, in letters no more than about half an inch high, approximately. I put the operator to strict proof as to the size of the wording on their signs and the size of lettering for the most onerous term, the parking charge itself.

The letters seem to be no larger than .40 font size going by this guide:

h/ttp

As further evidence that this is inadequate notice, Letter Height Visibility is discussed here:

h/ttp

''When designing your sign, consider how you will be using it, as well as how far away the readers you want to impact will be. For example, if you are placing a sales advertisement inside your retail store, your text only needs to be visible to the people in the store. 1-2' letters (or smaller) would work just fine. However, if you are hanging banners and want drivers on a nearby highway to be able to see them, design your letters at 3' or even larger.''

...and the same chart is reproduced here:

ht/tp:

''When designing an outdoor sign for your business keep in mind the readability of the letters. Letters always look smaller when mounted high onto an outdoor wall''.

''...a guideline for selecting sign letters. Multiply the letter height by 10 and that is the best viewing distance in feet. Multiply the best viewing distance by 4 and that is the max viewing distance.''

So, a letter height of just half an inch, showing the terms and the 'charge' and placed high on a wall or pole or buried in far too crowded small print, is woefully inadequate in an outdoor car park. Given that letters look smaller when high up on a wall or pole, as the angle renders the words less readable due to the perspective and height, you would have to stand right in front of it and still need a stepladder (and perhaps a torch and/or magnifying glass) to be able to read the terms.

Under Lord Denning's Red Hand Rule, the charge (being 'out of all proportion' with expectations of drivers in this car park and which is the most onerous of terms) should have been effectively: 'in red letters with a red hand pointing to it' - i.e. VERY clear and prominent with the terms in large lettering, as was found to be the case in the car park in 'Beavis'. A reasonable interpretation of the 'red hand rule' and the 'signage visibility distance' tables above and the BPA Code of Practice, taking all information into account, would require a parking charge and the terms to be displayed far more transparently, on a lower sign and in far larger lettering, with fewer words and more 'white space' as background contrast. Indeed in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 there is a 'Requirement for transparency':

(1) A trader must ensure that a written term of a consumer contract, or a consumer notice in writing, is transparent.
(2) A consumer notice is transparent for the purposes of subsection (1) if it is expressed in plain and intelligible language and it is legible.

The Beavis case signs not being similar to the signs in this appeal at all, I submit that the persuasive case law is in fact 'Vine v London Borough of Waltham Forest [2000] EWCA Civ 106' about a driver not seeing the terms and consequently, she was NOT deemed bound by them.

This judgment is binding case law from the Court of Appeal and supports my argument, not the operator's case:

htt/p:

This was a victory for the motorist and found that, where terms on a sign are not seen and the area is not clearly marked/signed with prominent terms, the driver has not consented to - and cannot have 'breached' - an unknown contract because there is no contract capable of being established. The driver in that case (who had not seen any signs/lines) had NOT entered into a contract. The recorder made a clear finding of fact that the plaintiff, Miss Vine, did not see a sign because the area was not clearly marked as 'private land' and the signs were obscured/not adjacent to the car and could not have been seen and read from a driver's seat before parking.

So, for this appeal, I put this operator to strict proof of where the car was parked and (from photos taken in the same lighting conditions) how their signs appeared on that date, at that time, from the angle of the driver's perspective. Equally, I require this operator to show how the entrance signs appear from a driver's seat, not stock examples of 'the sign' in isolation/close-up. I submit that full terms simply cannot be read from a car before parking and mere 'stock examples' of close-ups of the (alleged) signage terms will not be sufficient to disprove this.


5) Amount demanded is a penalty and is punitive, contravening the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

The authority on this is ParkingEye v Beavis. That case was characterised by clear and ample signage where the motorist had time to read, and then consider the signage and decide whether to accept or not. In this case the signage was neither clear not ample, and the motorist had not time to read the signage, let alone
consider it, as the charge was applied instantly the vehicle stopped. The signage
cannot be read safely from a moving vehicle.

In this occasion, the Operator are claiming a charge that is tenfold their rate for the period of 30 minutes that the driver allegedly parked, over their original paid ticket. This is clearly punitive and contravening the Consumer Rights Act 2015, not clearly demonstrated in the terms and conditions of the signage and a totally exploitative profiteering practice of any driver's situation.


6) I would also bring into question the authenticity of the photographs taken of the vehicle; most notably the time stamps. By close examination of the photographs, the details are added as an overlay on-top of the photos in the top right hand corner. It is well within the realms of possibility for even an amateur to use free photo-editing software to add this yellow text with authentic looking metadata. Not only is this possible, but this practice has even been in use by UKPC, who were banned by the DVLA after it emerged.

I would challenge MET Parking Services to prove that a stationary, highly advanced camera was used to generate these photos (including viewing direction, camera location etc.) and not taken from an individual with a mobile device on which time can be set at will, or timestamped after processing with photo-editing software. I would also challenge MET Parking Services that they possess the technology to generate these precise types of photographs, as the date stamps have been applied to the photo in such an amateurish way (there are much more sophisticated ways of hardcoding photo data).


I therefore request that POPLA uphold my appeal and cancel this PCN.

Replies

  • Thanks Rarebit. Your case is identical to mine and also to Freedomreigns. You've compiled the letter I was going to write today. Many thanks and I hope you don't mind if I plagiarise.

    I replied to freedomreigns about some of the signage if you want to take a look at that thread and add it in above. I have a photo of the actual signs, but as I'm a newbie here, the link to posting them won't work. You can clearly see the signs on Google Maps streetview though. The signage is good, however the demarcation of the site is in the small print, as is the key information that McDonald's is not part of the site. Contrary to what you say above though, the £100 charge is fairly visible imho, even on the fuzzy Google Streetview pictures.

    Good luck, please keep us updated...
  • The_DeepThe_Deep Forumite
    16.8K Posts
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    This is an entirely unregulated industry which is scamming the public with inflated claims for minor breaches of contracts for alleged parking offences, aided and abetted by a handful of low-rent solicitors.

    Parking Eye, CPM, Smart, and another company have already been named and shamed, as has Gladstones Solicitors, and BW Legal, (these two law firms take hundreds of these cases to court each year). They lose most of them, and have been reported to the regulatory authority by an M.P. for unprofessional conduct

    Hospital car parks and residential complex tickets have been especially mentioned.

    The problem has become so rampant that MPs have agreed to enact a Bill to regulate these scammers. Watch the video of the Second Reading in the HofC recently.

    http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/2f0384f2-eba5-4fff-ab07-cf24b6a22918?in=12:49:41

    and complain in the most robust terms to your MP. With a fair wind they will be out of business by Christmas.
    You never know how far you can go until you go too far.
  • Coupon-madCoupon-mad
    100K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Gsmith45 wrote: »
    Your case is identical to mine and also to Freedomreigns.
    Your case is like the one by mick miller as well
    as freedomreigns, about 'leaving the site' and wording for POPLA has already been discussed for your 3 cases.

    This one is NOT like your case, because the OP says:
    The reason for the charge was Yellow Lines.

    In your case, you also need the extra wording about the photos/DPA and no evidence.

    This OP does not. So - rarebit

    Was your PCN a postal one, or a windscreen one for parking on double yellows? If a windscreen one, did you ever even get any NTK?

    Why was the car on DYL, if just dropping off or picking up a passenger or bags, then that IS allowed on roadways on DYLS and you could use the TMA 2004 (applies only in fact to real pubic highway roads) to argue your case in another point for POPLA. DYl does allow boarding and alighting, and loading/unloading, DYL are not a signal that communicates 'no stopping' (red lines and clearway 'X' signs would do, but not poxy little yellow lines).

    :)
    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
  • rarebitrarebit Forumite
    4 Posts
    Thank you for your input.:)

    @CouponMad, there was no windscreen PCN. I just received NTK in the post, about 3 weeks after.

    The car was on the DYL to pickup some bags.
  • Coupon-madCoupon-mad
    100K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Oh good, you will win on ''no keeper liability'' then. :D
    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
  • rarebitrarebit Forumite
    4 Posts
    Thank you,

    One other thing, is it advisable to include photographs of the signage if they have not been taken by me?
  • Coupon-madCoupon-mad
    100K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    At POPLA stage yes, embedded as images to illustrate the signage argument in the appeal document, but only if they help show the signs are sparse and illegible or don't have the terms the PPC says they do.
    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
  • rarebitrarebit Forumite
    4 Posts
    Adding the following to appeal:

    Areas of this site are unsigned and there are no full terms displayed - i.e. with the sum of the parking charge itself in large lettering - at the entrance either, so it cannot be assumed that a driver drove past and could read a legible sign, nor parked near or in full view of a one.

    Image 1: Evidence that the signs setting out the terms and conditions are not made
    prominent in and around this site. There is only one sign located on the far left end of the car park in front of BP shop seemingly placed about as far from the shop entrance as possible (see yellow arrow).

    Image 2: Evidence that the sum of the parking charge in not displayed at all on the
    sign positioned at the entrance to the site.
This discussion has been closed.
Latest News and Guides