ParkingEye County Court Claim - Genuine Patron of Hotel - ANPR
Hi, I would like some help / feedback for a defence I am writing in relation to a claim from ParkingEye.
The background is that I parked on a hotel car park (managed by ParkingEye), due to being a guest at the hotel for an event I was attending. The Hotel had authorised patrons of the event to park at the hotel for the duration of the event.
Upon entering the hotel, I was directed by a member of the hotel staff to enter my car registration into the device on the reception desk - which I did and was then ushered to the conference room for said event. I left the hotel and car park after the event had finished, which was less than a couple of hours in total.
A few weeks later I received an NTK from ParkingEye stating that i owed them £100 as my number plate was caught on ANPR entering and leaving the car park without a paid for ticket. After putting two and two together, I realised that I must have entered either partly or fully, my vehicle registration incorrectly (or perhaps the device itself recorded it incorrectly, who knows).
I did contest this NTK with ParkingEye at the time but my argument was rejected on their not being sufficient evidence. I chose not to pay the fine and subsequently received a letter before county court claim which stated I now owe them an additional £20.00 - the charge had now risen to £120.00!
I missed the deadline of appealing to POPLA and so have now received a Claim Form, of which I would like to put in my defence as I truly believe I have not done anything wrong here.
In hindsight and only from reading these Forums, I have realised that I should have, at the start, gone straight to the Hotel to ask them to request a cancellation of the NTK. I have done this since receiving the Claim form and the hotel have asked ParkingEye to cancel but ParkingEye are saying there is nothing that can be done at this stage to cancel it! The Hotel has provided me with a letter confirming that I was a guest for this event and had indeed entered my registration into the device at reception when asked to do so.
Since receiving the Claim Form I have filed an Acknowledgment of Service on the MCOL website:
A claim was issued against you on 20/11/2023
Your acknowledgment of service was submitted on 27/11/2023 at 21:47:55
Your acknowledgment of service was received on 28/11/2023 at 08:05:58
Particulars of Claim
Claim for monies outstanding from the Defendant in relation to a Parking Charge (Reference xxxxx) issued on the [Date]. The signage clearly displayed throughout the [Name of Hotel], [Address], states that this is private land, managed by ParkingEye Ltd, and that it is subject to terms and conditions, including the payment of parking tariffs, by which those who park agree to be bound (the contract). ParkingEye’s ANPR system captured vehicle xxxx entering and leaving the site on [Date], and parking without a valid paid parking ticket. The Defendant had the opportunity to appeal to POPLA, the independent appeals service for parking on private land, but has not been taken.
Amount Claimed: 120.00
Court Fee: 35.00
Legal representative’s costs: 50.00
Total amount: 205.00
I have composed my below defence but I’m not sure if it enough or too much, so any advice appreciated:
Claim No.: XXXXXXXX
(full name of parking firm, not the solicitor!)
- and -
Defendant’s name from N1 claim (can’t be changed to someone else now)
1. The parking charges referred to in this claim did not arise from any agreement of terms. The charge and the claim was an unexpected shock. 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 was a breach of any prominent term and it is denied that this Claimant (understood to have a bare licence as managers) has standing to sue or form contracts in their own name. Liability is denied, whether or not the Claimant is claiming 'keeper liability', which is unclear from the Particulars.
The facts as known to the defendant
2. The Defendant visited the [Hotel] on [Date of Offence] as a guest for a pre planned event whereby guests to the event were authorised by the Hotel to park on the Hotel car park, for the duration of the event.
3. The defendant remained on site during the event.
4. The Defendant was advised by Hotel staff to enter their VRN into an ipad type device upon entering the Hotel. The Defendant inputted their VRN into the device as instructed. The Defendant received no feedback from the device that the registration entered was correctly or incorrectly entered.
5. It is admitted that the Defendant was the registered keeper and driver of the vehicle. It must be common ground that the terms have been complied with or substantially complied with. The charge imposed, in all the circumstances, is a penalty (not saved by the ParkingEye v Beavis Supreme Court case, which is fully distinguished). Further, in a new tactic only seen from this Claimant in Summer 2023, the sum claimed under purported 'contract' is disproportionately exaggerated by £20 which was not mentioned on the signs at the Hotel. The Defendant takes the point that enhancing their claim on either impermissible sums or on an incorrect basis, is reason enough to disallow the claim.
6. The Claimant will concede that no financial loss has arisen and that in order to impose an inflated parking charge, as well as proving a term was breached, there must be:
(i). a strong 'legitimate interest' extending beyond mere compensation for loss, and
(Ii). 'adequate notice' of the 'penalty clause' charge which, in the case of a car park, requires prominent signs.
7. The allegation appears to be that the motorist fails to make the appropriate tariff payment based on images by their ANPR camera at the entrance and exit to the site. This is merely an image of the vehicle in transit, entering and leaving the car park in question and is not evidence of the registered keeper 'parking without a valid paid parking ticket' or of the driver not being a patron of the Hotel, when in fact the Defendant was a guest at the hotel and followed instructions from staff in inputting their VRN into the device at the Hotel reception upon arrival.
8. When the Defendant advised the Landowner of the PCN, the company’s management contacted the Claimant to advise that the Defendant was a guest at the hotel for a planned event hosted by the Hotel and had followed instructions by inputting their VRN into the device on reception. The Hotel asked the Claimant to cancel the notice but were advised by the Claimant that there was nothing that could be done as the matter is now in its legal stages.
9. With no 'legitimate interest' excuse for charging this unconscionable sum given the above facts, this Claimant's claim is reduced to an unrecoverable penalty and must fail.
10. The Claimant is put to strict proof that it has sufficient proprietary interest in the land, or that it has the necessary authorisation from the landowner to issue parking charge notices in these circumstances, and to pursue payment in the court in their own name. Even if they hold such authority, the Claimant is put to strict proof that this authorisation expressly allows litigation against patrons even when the business in fact supports the Defendant in wanting an unfair charge to be cancelled.
11. Even if the Claimant is able to produce such a landowner contract, it is averred that there can be no legitimate interest arguable by the Claimant in this case. When ParkingEye unfairly harvests the data of a registered keeper to charge a genuine patron, any commercial justification in the form of landowner support for such unfair ticketing is de facto absent.
12. The letter’s say that all appeals should be made in writing and sent directly to ParkingEye. The option to appeal directly to the Landowner was excluded, and only discovered after the Defendant’s own research.
13. The initial route offered was a supposed 'appeal' to ParkingEye themselves, but the Defendant knew that no offence or mischief had occurred and believed from initial research, that private parking charges and the appeals systems were unlikely to be fairly weighted in favour of consumers.
14. Due to the sparseness of the POC it is unclear as to what legal basis the claim is brought, whether for breach of contract, contractual liability, or trespass. However, it is denied that the Defendant, or any driver of the vehicle breached any contractual agreement with the Claimant, whether express, implied, or by conduct.
15. The Defendant remembers inputting the VRN on the device at the hotel reception when the staff member asked the defendant to do so upon entry and the Defendant is none the wiser due to the lack of information from the Claimant whether the VRN was entered incorrectly. The PCN and POC could mean that the Claimant is suggesting the car overstayed paid for time, or even that a wrong VRN was recorded by the device, and it is impossible for the Defendant to be certain about the alleged breach and to make an informed decision about what to say by way of defence, which puts the Defendant in a position of disadvantage.
16. In addition to the original parking charge, for which liability is denied, the Claimants have artificially inflated the value of the Claim by adding purported Solicitor's Costs of £50, which have not actually been incurred by the Claimant.
17. Whilst £50 may be recoverable in an instance where a claimant has used a legal firm to prepare a claim, ParkingEye Ltd have not expended any such sum in this case. This Claimant has a Legal Team with salaried in-house Solicitors and it files hundreds of similar 'cut & paste' robo-claims per month, not incurring any legal cost per case. The Defendant puts the Claimant to strict proof to the contrary, given the fact that their in-house Solicitors cannot possibly be believed to be paid in the millions per annum for their services.
18. The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (the POFA) Schedule 4, at Section 4(5) states that the maximum sum that may be recovered from the keeper is the charge stated on the Notice to Keeper (NTK) in this case £100. In the Beavis case, ParkingEye were only able to seek the only stated 'parking charge' sum on their NTK, since there was no quantifiable tariff.
19. The Defendant denies the claim in its entirety voiding any liability to the Claimant for all amounts claimed due to the aforementioned reasons. The Court is invited to dismiss the Claim, and to allow such Defendant's costs as are permissible under Civil Procedure Rule 27.14.
20. The claim is entirely without merit. The Defendant believes that it is in the public interest that claims like this should be struck out because knowingly enhanced parking claims like this one cause consumer harm on a grand scale.
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.
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