Having a PCN CCJ Set Aside and Defending
I was going to pay a CCJ I have, but after the massive amount I learned from my last foray into defending a PCN in County Court, I have decided to try to have a CCJ Set Aside and possibly to defend it, depending on the feedback.
I work in Close Protection and as such often work long and unusual hours. After working all night, last summer, I attempted to drive back to base, in Yorkshire, from London. By the time I reached London Gateway Services, on the M1, I realised that that was not going to happen, so I pulled off, parked and went to sleep in the driver’s seat of my vehicle. I thought I slept for a couple of hours, but in fact, it must have been over four hours.
I was quite surprised when I received a collection letter from ParkingEye, asking for the £100 that I apparently should have paid, to park for more than four hours. I was also incensed, as I thought that 'Rest Stops' as the Americans call them, were exactly that. Unfortunately, I do not have the original letters but from memory, I don't think ParkingEye had added charges, at that point, but I was furious that the minimum tariff to 'rest' for a few hours was £100. I could have had a room in the Travel Lodge for that! Anyway, I ignored the letters, thinking they can't possibly hope this will stand up in court, and if they do threaten court, I'll take legal advice, and in a worst-case scenario, I'll just pay. That backfired, because they did go to court, and they did it during the postal strikes. I don't remember if I received a Letter Before Action, but I definitely did not receive a Claim Form. The first I knew of it was the Judgement for Claimant (in default) letter, which I received along with several DCBL letters when I returned home. A little annoyed about all this, I spent three days trying to contact NCCBC by phone, and they told me that they post the claim forms and just assume they've been delivered, even during a postal strike. I'm pretty sure I know the response we'd get, if the boot were on the other foot.
Well to save time, I will bullet point the facts, as I remember them:
- The Claimant was ParkingEye Ltd. They have now engaged DCBL.
- I think the basic charge for parking was £100. I'm working away in Paris at the moment, but I've asked a friend to go to the services and photograph the parking area and signage, to be sure, when she’s passing, in a week or so.
- I don't think they added fees to the original claim, but I feel that £100 was extortionate, bearing in mind, tired drivers have no other options.
- I did not notice the signage as I drove into the carpark. On visiting, at a later date, I did see that they have a big sign by the entrance, but I did not read it at the time, as I assumed it only pertained to overnight stays. This assumption was based on the fact that, in 33 years of driving, I've never been required to pay to park in a Motorway Services before.
- I don't live at my UK mailing address. It is my parents’ house and I'm sometimes based there when working in the UK, so on occasion, I get mail late, if I haven't been there for a few weeks or months. My parents are both 80 within the next 12 months and can be a bit scatty, so I don't have them open the post, and to be honest, there has never been reason to do so, in the past. Anything of any importance usually arrives electronically. Having said that I do always get my post eventually. On this occasion, The Claim Form simply never arrived. Of that I am sure.
- When I spoke to a lady at NCCBC, she said that she was sure it would have been because of the strikes, and that it had happened to quite a few people. (I love the way they take zero responsibility for the damage they do to innocent people's lives.)
- The amount due rose to £207 including £107 in costs.
- That amount has since risen to £277, since DCBL stuck their £70 collection fees on top.
- The Judgement was issued on 07/02/2023
I've read quite a few threads, including ‘Newbies’, which I constantly have open to refer to, but there are a few details that seem to warrant special attention, in this case:
- It was at a motorway rest stop.
- The parking charge was much higher than usual.
- I didn't notice/read the sign because I didn't think it was relevant, since I have never needed to pay at a Motorway Services before.
I’d like to know:
- Is there a defendable position, since there was signage, I just didn't read it, and they did not add fees until court.
- Most importantly: Am I entitled to have the Judgement Set Aside, regardless of the defence (even if I admit liability and chose to pay), since the Court knowingly sent out documents by Royal Mail, during a strike, despite knowing that there was a good chance they would be served late, or not at all? The CCJ is way more important to me than the fine.
Finally, in the interest of getting the ball rolling quickly: I read on one thread that it's best to get the Claimant to agree to have the Judgement Set Side, since it reduces everyone's costs, and I should contact them. Can anyone advise on how to put this in an email, and who to address it to, or point me to a thread with some details that may help?
Thanks again, to everyone involved here. It's very liberating to know there are ways of fighting back against these people.
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