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DCB Legal County Court Stadium Retail Park Wembley
edited 1 April 2022 at 9:58AM in Parking tickets, fines & parking
42 replies 617 views
edited 1 April 2022 at 9:58AM in Parking tickets, fines & parking
I received county court letter from DCB Legal on the 16th March 2022
Particulars of Claim: 1. The Defendant (D) is indebted to the Claimant (C) for a Parking Charge(s) issued to vehicle (MY VRM) at Stadium Retail Park Wembley
2. The PCN details are 18/12/2016 ............
3. The PCN(s) was issued on private land owned or managed by C. The vehicle was parked in breach of the Terms on Cs signs (the Contract), thus incurring the PCN(s).
4. The driver agreed to pay within 28 days but did not. D is liable as the driver or keeper. Despite requests, the PCN(s) is outstanding. The Contract entitles C to damages.AND THE CLAIMANT CLAIMS 1. £165 being the total of the PCN(s) and damages. 2. Interest at a rate of 8% per annum pursuant to s.69 of the County Courts Act 1984 from the date hereof at a daily rate of £0.02 until judgement or sooner payment. 3. Costs and court fees Amount claimed – 240.40 Court fee - 35.00 Legal representative's Costs - 50.00 Total amount – 325.40 Signed by Yasmin Mia
I have done already Submitted Acknowledgement of Service on 22-03-22 I did a SAR request to group nexus on 18th March they responded on 23rd with the original Parking Charge Notice at £95.00 They sent a PDF with a reminder on 16-01-17 at £95 then a next on 02-02-17 at £135. Not sure where they are getting the £165 from? Everyone help is much appreciated! Thank You
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As you haven't told us, I have no idea what 'letter' you have received. Believe it or not, the County Court Service send out many different types of letter.
For the moment I am going to assume that you have received a County Court Claim Form from the County Court Business Centre in Northampton. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
You tell us you received this letter on 16th March. Can I also make the assumption that 16th March was in fact the Issue Date on that County Court Claim Form rather than the date you received it?
That's three weeks away. Plenty of time to produce a Defence, but please don't leave it to the last minute.
Do not try and file a Defence via the MoneyClaimOnline website. Once an Acknowledgment of Service has been filed, the MCOL website should be treated as 'read only'.
A rhetorical question - no need to tell us.
Do the Particulars of Claim really give no more detail of the parking place other than those three words?
I ask because just a few minutes ago @Johnersh made an interesting point on another thread.
Make sure the image capture date is visible when you use them at the WS/Exhibits stage.
IN THE COUNTY COURT
Claim No.: xxxxxx
Highview Parking Limited
- and -
Defendant’s name from N1 claim (can’t be changed to driver now)
1. The Defendant denies that the Claimant is entitled to relief in the sum claimed, or at all. It is denied that any conduct by the driver gave rise to a ‘parking charge’ and it is denied that this Claimant (understood to have a bare licence as managers) has standing to sue or to form contracts in their own name at the location.
The facts as known to the Defendant:
2. It is admitted that the Defendant was the registered keeper of the vehicle in question, but liability is denied.
3. The defendant in the case of the alleged parking charge dated 18/12/2016 denies any contract was knowingly entered into while parking at stadium retail park Wembley. As you enter the gate of the parking there is no sign-age sating you will be entering into a “contract” nor any signs stating a maximum time limit to park within the parking nor a sign in any prominent location where customers are able to see them. Whilst in the retail park we visited currys, JD sports, and had McDonalds before leaving these things take time as the sales colleagues want to show you multiple electronics, I believe the maximum time to park has been set to entrap customers of the retail park to receive a parking invoice even if they are a couple of minutes late.
The signs in this car park are not in prominent, clear, or legible from all parking spaces and there is insufficient notice of the sum of the parking charge itself.
It is noted 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”
4. The facts in this defence come from the Defendant's own knowledge and honest belief. The Defendant should not be criticised for using some pre-written wording from a reliable source. The Claimant is urged not to patronise the Defendant with (ironically template) unfounded accusations of not understanding their defence. This Defendant signed it after full research and having read this defence several times, because the court process is outside of their life experience. The claim was an unexpected shock.
5. With regard to template statements, the Defendant observes after researching other parking cases, that the Particulars of Claim ('POC') set out a generic and incoherent statement of case. Prior to this - and in breach of the pre-action protocol for 'Debt' Claims - no copy of the contract (sign) was served with a Letter of Claim. The POC is sparse on facts about the allegation, making it difficult to respond in depth at this time.
6. This Claimant continues to pursue a hugely disproportionate fixed sum (routinely added per PCN) despite indisputably knowing that this is now banned. It seems they have also calculated 8% interest on that false sum. It is denied that the quantum sought is recoverable (authorities: two well-known ParkingEye cases where modern penalty law rationale was applied). Attention is drawn to paras 98, 100, 193, 198 of ParkingEye Ltd v Beavis  UKSC67. Also ParkingEye Ltd v Somerfield Stores Ltd ChD  EWHC 4023(QB) where the parking charge was £75, discounted to £37.50 for prompt payment. Whilst £75 was reasonable, HHJ Hegarty (sitting at the High Court; later ratified by the CoA) held in paras 419-428 that admin costs inflating it to £135 'would appear to be penal'.
7. This finding is underpinned by Government intervention and regulation. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities ('DLUHC') published in February 2022, a statutory Code of Practice, found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/private-parking-code-of-practice
8. Adding costs/damages/fees (however described) onto a parking charge is now banned. In a very short section called 'Escalation of costs' the new statutory Code of Practice says: "The parking operator must not levy additional costs over and above the level of a parking charge or parking tariff as originally issued."
9. The Code's Ministerial Foreword is unequivocal about abusive existing cases such as the present claim: "Private firms issue roughly 22,000 parking tickets every day, often adopting a labyrinthine system of misleading and confusing signage, opaque appeals services, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees designed to extort money from motorists."
10. The DLUHC consulted for over two years and considered evidence from a wide range of stakeholders. Almost a fifth of all respondents to the 2021 Technical Consultation called for false fees to be scrapped altogether; this despite the parking industry flooding both public consultations, some even masquerading as consumers. The DLUHC saw through this and in a published Response, they identified that some respondents were 'parking firms posing as motorists'. Genuine consumer replies pointed out that successful debt recovery does not trigger court proceedings and the debt recovery/robo-claim law firms operate on a 'no win, no fee' basis; essentially Trade Body Board member colleagues passing motorists' data around electronically to share inflated sums of money.
11. This Claimant has not incurred any additional costs (not even for reminder letters) because the parking charge more than covers what the Supreme Court in Beavis called an automated letter-chain business model that generates a healthy profit.
12. The driver did not agree to pay a parking charge, let alone unknown costs, which were not quantified in prominent text on signage. It comes too late when purported debt recovery fees are only quantified after the event.
13. Whilst the new Code and Act is not retrospective, it was enacted due to the failure of the self-serving BPA & IPC Codes of Practice. The Minister is indisputably talking about existing (not future) cases when declaring that 'recovery' fees were 'designed to extort money'. A clear steer for the Courts.
14. This overrides mistakes made in the appeal cases that the parking industry try to rely upon (Britannia v Semark-Jullien, One Parking Solution v Wilshaw, Vehicle Control Services v Ward and Vehicle Control Services v Percy). Far from being persuasive, regrettably these one-sided appeals were findings by Circuit Judges who appeared to be inexperienced in the nuances of private parking law and were led in one direction by Counsel for parking firms, and the litigant-in-person consumers lacked the wherewithal to appeal further. In case this Claimant tries to rely upon those cases, the Defendant avers that significant errors were made. Evidence was either overlooked (including inconspicuous signage in Wilshaw, where the Judge was also oblivious to the BPA Code of Practice, including rules for surveillance cameras and the DVLA KADOE requirement for landowner authority) or the Judge inexplicably sought out and quoted from the wrong Code altogether (Percy). In Ward, a few seconds' emergency stop out of the control of the driver was unfairly aligned with the admitted contract in Beavis. The learned Judges were not in possession of the same level of facts and evidence as the DLUHC, whose Code now clarifies all such matters.
POFA and CRA breaches
15. Pursuant to Schedule 4 paragraph 4(5) of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 ('the POFA') the sum claimed exceeds the maximum potentially recoverable from a registered keeper, even in cases where a firm may have complied with other POFA requirements (adequate signage, Notice to Keeper wording/dates, and a properly communicated 'relevant contract/relevant obligation'). If seeking keeper/hirer liability - unclear from the POC - the Claimant is put to strict proof of full compliance.
16. Claiming costs on an indemnity basis is unfair, per the Unfair Contract Terms Guidance (CMA37, para 5.14.3), the Government guidance on the Consumer Rights Act 2015 ('CRA'). The CRA introduced new requirements for 'prominence' of both contract terms and 'consumer notices'. In a parking context, this includes signage and all notices, letters and other communications intended to be read by the consumer.
17. Section 71 creates a duty upon courts to consider the test of fairness, including (but not limited to) whether all terms/notices were unambiguously and conspicuously brought to the attention of a consumer. In the case of a 'PCN', this must have been served to the driver whilst the vehicle was stationary or, at sites remotely monitored by ANPR/CCTV, served to the keeper so that the motorist learns about it quickly. Signage must be prominent, plentiful, well placed and lit, and all terms unambiguous and obligations clear. The Defendant avers that the CRA has been breached due to unfair/unclear terms and notices, pursuant to s62 and paying due regard to examples 6, 10, 14 & 18 of Schedule 2 and the requirements for fair dealing and good faith.
ParkingEye v Beavis is distinguished
18. ParkingEye overcame the possibility of their £85 charge being dismissed as punitive, however the Supreme Court clarified that ‘the penalty rule is plainly engaged’ in parking cases, which must be determined on their own facts. That 'unique' case met a commercial justification test, given the location and clear signs with the parking charge in the largest/boldest text. Rather than causing other parking charges to be automatically justified, the Beavis case facts (in particular, the brief, conspicuous yellow & black warning signs) set a high bar that this Claimant has failed to reach.
19. Without the Beavis case to support the claim and no alternative calculation of loss/damage, this claim must fail. Paraphrasing from the Supreme Court, deterrence is likely to be penal if there is a lack of a legitimate interest in performance extending beyond the prospect of compensation flowing directly from the alleged breach. The intention cannot be to punish a driver, nor to present them with concealed pitfalls/traps, hidden terms or unfair/unexpected obligations.
20. In the present case, the Claimant has fallen foul of those tests. The Claimant’s small signs have vague/hidden terms and a mix of small font, and are considered incapable of binding a driver. Consequently, it remains the Defendant’s position that no contract to pay an onerous penalty was seen or agreed. Binding Court of Appeal authorities which are on all fours with a case involving unclear terms and a lack of ‘adequate notice’ of a parking charge, include:
(i) Spurling v Bradshaw  1 WLR 461 (‘red hand rule’) and
(ii) Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking Ltd  EWCA Civ2,
both leading authorities confirming that a clause cannot be incorporated after a contract has been concluded; and
(ii) Vine v London Borough of Waltham Forest: CA 5 Apr 2000, where Ms Vine won because it was held that she had not seen the terms by which she would later be bound. It was unsurprising that she did not see the sign, due to "the absence of any notice on the wall opposite the parking space'' (NB: when parking operator Claimants cite Vine, they often mislead courts by quoting out of context, Roch LJ's words about the Respondent’s losing case, and not from the ratio).
21. Fairness and clarity of terms and notices are paramount in the statutory Code and this is supported by the BPA & IPC Trade Bodies. In November 2020's Parking Review, solicitor Will Hurley, CEO of the IPC, observed: "Any regulation or instruction either has clarity or it doesn’t. If it’s clear to one person but not another, there is no clarity. The same is true for fairness. Something that is fair, by definition, has to be all-inclusive of all parties involved – it’s either fair or it isn’t. The introduction of a new ‘Code of Practice for Parking’ provides a wonderful opportunity to provide clarity and fairness for motorists and landowners alike."
Lack of landowner authority evidence and lack of ADR
22. DVLA data is only supplied to pursue parking charges if there is an independently signed landowner agreement (ref: KADOE rules). It is not accepted that the Claimant has adhered to a defined enforcement boundary, hours of operation, any extended grace period or exemptions (whatever these definitions were) nor that this Claimant has authority from the landowner to issue charges at this place or for the reason given. The Claimant is put to strict proof of all of this, and that they have standing to make contracts with drivers and litigate in their own name, rather than merely acting as agents for a principal, as some parking firms do.
23. Further, the Claimant failed to offer a genuinely independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The rival Trade Bodies provided 'blink and you've missed it' time-limited appeals services which failed to consider facts or rules of law properly and unfairly rejected disputes: e.g. despite using legally qualified but anonymous Adjudicators, the IAS upheld appeals in a woeful 4% of decided cases (IPC's 2020 Annual Report). The Appeals Annex in the new Code shows that genuine disputes such as this, even if made late, would have seen the charge cancelled, had a fair ADR existed. Whether or not a person engaged with it, the Claimant's consumer blame culture and any reliance upon the industry's own 'appeals service' should not sway the court into a belief that a fair ADR was ever on offer.
24. In the matter of costs, the Defendant asks:
(a) for standard witness costs for attendance at Court, pursuant to CPR 27.14, and
(b) that, in the event of a late Notice of Discontinuance (due to parking firms using and abusing the court process as a cheap - indeed lucrative - form of debt collection) the hearing continues as a costs hearing. CPR r.38.6 states that the Claimant is liable for the Defendant's costs after discontinuance (r.38.6(1)) but this does not normally apply to claims allocated to the small claims track (r.38.6(3)). However, the White Book states (annotation 38.6.1): "Note that the normal rule as to costs does not apply if a claimant in a case allocated to the small claims track serves a notice of discontinuance although it might be contended that costs should be awarded if a party has behaved unreasonably (r.27.14(2)(dg))." The Defendant may seek a finding of unreasonable conduct by this Claimant, seeking costs pursuant to CPR 46.5.
25. With the DLUHC's ban on additional costs, there is now ample evidence to support the view - long held by many District Judges - that these are knowingly exaggerated claims. For HMCTS to only dismiss extortionate costs in the tiny percentage of cases that reach hearings, whilst allowing other such claims to continue to flood the courts unabated, is to fail hundreds of thousands of consumers every year, who suffer CCJs or pay inflated amounts due to intimidating tactics at pre-action stage. The Defendant believes that knowingly enhanced parking claims cause consumer harm on a grand scale and it is in the public interest that claims like this should not be allowed to continue. The Defendant invites the court to dismiss the false 'costs' element at least, and to consider whether an appropriate sanction is to resume the policy of striking out parking claims altogether, where the POC include a vague but fixed sum in 'damages/costs'.
26. The claim is entirely without merit and the Claimant is urged to discontinue now, to avoid incurring costs and wasting the court's time and that of the Defendant.
Statement of Truth
I believe that the facts stated in this defence are true. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.