Another Gladstones one - Defence advice please

edited 29 August 2019 at 9:59PM in Parking Tickets, Fines & Parking
15 replies 545 views
LelsLels Forumite
7 Posts
Hello all,

My husband received a Claim form (dated 20/2/2019) for the County Court Business centre in Northampton relating to a PCN issued by Millenium door and Event security Limited. This is another Gladstones one.

In accordance with the excellent advice on this forum, we have acknowledged the Claim from online, and are now trying to form a defence, to which I hope you will be able to assist.

Background;

Husband was invited to attend an appointment at private residence in a block of flats. He arrived, parked in a bay marked “V” (no barriers ), as he was getting out of the car, a security guard came over and took a photo of the car – husband queried if he was ok to park there, guy says yes, you’re in a visitor marked bay. He didn’t see any signage, although having spoke to the guy, didn’t think to look.

Husband finishes appt, comes out, no ticket but PCN turns up few days later.

We wrote to Millenium, setting out the facts, requesting that they waive the demand for payment, but no go. At no time have we agreed to pay the PCN within 28 days of issue.

Scroll on to now, and we received the following Particulars of the claim:

“ The driver of the vehicle with the registration XXX parked in breach of the terms of parking stipulated on the signage (the”contract”) at LOCATION on DATE thus incurring the parking charge (PCN), the driver of the vehicle agreed to pay the PCN within 28 days of issue but failed to do so. The Claimant claims the unpaid PCN from the defendant as the driver/keeper of the vehicle. Despite demands being made, the defendant has failed to settle their outstanding liability. THE CLAIMANT CLAIMS £100 for the PCN, £60.00 contractual costs pursuant to the Contract and PCN terms and conditions, together with statutory interest of £9.48 pursant to s69 of the County Courts Act 1984 at 8.00% per annum, continuing at £0.04 per day”


Proposed defence as follows – I have tried to cut the waffle, but hopefully there are enough details to pick at here…

1. The Defendant denies that the Claimant is entitled to relief in the sum claimed, or at all.

2. The facts are that the vehicle, registration XXXX, of which the Defendant is the registered keeper, was parked on the material date in a marked Visitors bay at LOCATION, whilst attending an appointment with a resident of the said location, and had a conversation with a Uniformed Security guard on duty, who took a photograph of the car, and stated that the marked Bay was the correct position for Visitors (marked with a large “V” within the bay”). At no time did the official state that further measures with regards to parking were required, nor was the Defendant referred to parking signage, nor was the Defendant aware of any such signage displayed within the vicinity of the Visitor parking spaces.

3. The Particulars of Claim state that the Defendant XXX was the registered keeper and/or the driver of the vehicle(s) XXX and that the driver agreed to pay the PCN charge within 28 days of issue and yet has failed to do so. At no time during this process has the driver agreed to pay the PCN charge.

4. Due to the lack of information in the particulars, the legal basis for the claim is unclear, whether for breach of contract, contractual liability, or trespass. However, it is denied that the Defendant, or any driver of the vehicle, entered into any contractual agreement with the Claimant, whether express, implied, or by conduct.

5. 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, and to pursue payment by means of litigation.

6. The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, 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, in this case £100. The claim includes an additional £60, for which no calculation or explanation is given, and which appears to be an attempt at double recovery. In addition, a further sum of £9.48 statutory interest pursuant to the County Courts Act at 8.00% per annum, continuing at £0.04 per day. The basis for this statutory interest is unfounded as no payment is due.

7. The Claimant has not complied with the pre-court protocol:
a. No information has been provided regarding the list of the documents that will be relied upon in court
b. The defendants full name was not used
c. No information has been provided regarding any funding arrangement (within the meaning of rule 43.2(1)(k) of the CPR) that has been entered into by the claimant.
e. No clear basis for the reason for the claim was provided

8. It is suggested by the defendant that parking companies using the small claims process as a form of aggressive debt collection is not something the courts should be seen to sustenance.


9. In summary, it is the Defendant's position that the claim is without merit, and has no real prospect of success. Accordingly, the Court is invited to strike out the claim of its own initiative, using its case management powers pursuant to CPR 3.4.

I believe the facts contained in this Defence are true.

Name
Signature
Date

Thank you all for your help in advance – of course, we’ll keep you informed of progress.
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Replies

  • edited 28 February 2019 at 4:38PM
    The_DeepThe_Deep Forumite
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    edited 28 February 2019 at 4:38PM
    If you can find out the identity of the Security Muppet it might be worth your while calling him/her as a witness. You can then tear them a new one under cross examination. This is obviously a scam so complain to your MP.

    This is an entirely unregulated industry which is scamming the public with inflated claims for minor breaches of alleged contracts for alleged parking offences, aided and abetted by a handful of low-rent solicitors. Is has been suggested by an MP that some of these companies may have connections to organised crime.

    Parking Eye, CPM, Smart, (especially Smart}, and others have already been named and shamed in the House of Commons as have Gladstones Solicitors, and BW Legal, (these two law firms take hundreds of these cases to court each week), hospital car parks and residential complex tickets have been especially mentioned. They lose most of them, and have been reported to the regulatory authority by an M.P. for unprofessional conduct

    The problem become so widespread that MPs agreed to enact a Bill to regulate these scammers. Hopefully, this will become law by Easter .
    You never know how far you can go until you go too far.
  • ShakeItOffShakeItOff Forumite
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    Welcome Lels!

    There is some additional points that Bargepole has given in the NEWBIES thread, which might also be helpful for your defence - https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showpost.php?p=74674865&postcount=24. I think point 3 would tie nicely in with your Point 4. There are also other bits in there which you can add to your case.

    Have you also sent a subject access request off to Millennium? It would be very much worth doing now, if you haven't already. It may not arrive in time for your defence, but would do in plenty of time for your WS.

    Don't forget that MP complaint too!
    Debt Free by Xmas 2021 = £0/£6,500
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  • LelsLels Forumite
    7 Posts
    Hi, thank you for the quick replies!

    Yes, we have submitted an SAR to millenium - no response yet.

    will have another look at the sugested post, and will definitely wirte to our MP.

    Thank you again!
  • KeithPKeithP Forumite
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    Lels wrote: »
    My husband received a Claim form (dated 20/2/2019) for the County Court Business centre in Northampton.

    In accordance with the excellent advice on this forum, we have acknowledged the Claim form online...
    With a Claim Issue Date of 20th February, and having done the Acknowledgement of Service in a timely manner, you have until 4pm on Monday 25th March 2019 to file your Defence.

    That's over three weeks away. Loads of time to produce a perfect Defence, but don't leave it to the very last minute.


    When you are happy with the content, your Defence should be filed via email as suggested here:
      Print your Defence.
    1. Sign it and date it.
    2. Scan the signed document back in and save it as a pdf.
    3. Send that pdf as an email attachment to [email protected]
    4. Just put the claim number and the word Defence in the email title, and in the body of the email something like 'Please find my Defence attached'.
    5. Log into MCOL after a few days to see if the Claim is marked "defended". If not chase the CCBC until it is.
    6. Do not be surprised to receive a copy of the Claimant's Directions Questionnaire, they are just trying to put you under pressure.
    7. Wait for your DQ from the CCBC, or download one from the internet, and then re-read post #2 of the NEWBIES FAQ sticky thread to find out exactly what to do with it.
  • edited 28 February 2019 at 9:24PM
    LelsLels Forumite
    7 Posts
    edited 28 February 2019 at 9:24PM
    @ The Deep (sorry can't do highlighting, quotes etc)


    Thank you - we will try and find out the identity of the "Security" bloke, it's a really valid point.


    my husband is already practising his speech for the day in court, thinks he's Ironside.


    Meanwhile, I'm the one making sure that we follow due process, and hopefully never get there....
  • LelsLels Forumite
    7 Posts
    thanks KeithP,


    I've got a schedule all set out in our diaries and calendars to make sure we don't miss any deadlines. This forum is amazing, and totally reassuring that we are doing the right thing to fight these cowboys.


    Lels
  • edited 28 February 2019 at 10:17PM
    beamerguybeamerguy Forumite
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    edited 28 February 2019 at 10:17PM
    Is there really a security guy or a pretend one ?

    If this was me, I would repeat that night with someone as driver and the other with their mobile using the audio record button

    This stinks of a scam where there are visitor spaces and you are jumped upon by a "security" bod who then says it's ok to park
  • edited 28 February 2019 at 10:40PM
    antandannantandann Forumite
    36 Posts
    edited 28 February 2019 at 10:40PM
    I swotted for a year for our court case and thought I had it in the bag, especially when our friends Gladstones didn't show for the hearing, but we ran into the judge equivalent of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. So be prepared for that one. If you are taking them on, you're already a winner, no matter the result of a hearing. Go get 'em tiger and the best of luck.

    Ps. Run everything by the guys here, and don't assume you know the score, like I did. But I really think with the judge we had, the best argument and legal representation in the world wouldn't have changed his mind. But I don't regret trying to fight back, even though we now have to pay £260 for the privilege.
  • LelsLels Forumite
    7 Posts
    So – we went to court yesterday, and the case was dismissed by the judge!

    Firstly, thank you for all the useful guidance in helping get the documentation sorted and submitted on time and in the correct format. That was invaluable.

    We used the step-by-step guide in the sticky at the top, and used the Defence statement which is above. We also submitted a witness statement, which outlined the information that included in my original thread – so acknowledged that my husband was there at the time in question, but that he had been advised by a uniformed security guard that he was parked in the right spot.

    When we arrived at the court, the usher asked us whether we wanted to speak to the Claimant’s solicitor, which we did. He was a very nice youngish chap, who in his first introduction told us that he was a self employed solicitor, and was acting under instruction on behalf of the claimant, but that he was just trying to get experience as he had been called to the bar, and wanted to be a barrister. He said these cases were generally 50/50.

    We were duly called into the court, and the Judge described the fact that this would be a fairly informal proceeding, that we would each be given an opportunity to present our case and that the Claimant had to satisfy a burden of probability that a breach to the parking contract had been made.

    As the solicitor started to present the fact that my husband, in parking without displaying a valid permit in a visitor’s spot, at the location in question, at the time in question (all of which was already confirmed in my husband’s defence statement); the judge interrupted him and asked where the evidence for this was.
    The bundle of documents which the Claimant had compiled included a huge number of photos of the car parked in a visitors bay, and they were all date and time stamped, but none of them showed any evidence as to where they were taken, nor by whom.
    The judge then went on to tear an absolute strip off the solicitor, stating that he was relying on a witness statement, which was in the words of the judge a generic witness statement which did not address any of the issues raised by my husband in his defence statement.
    As examples he included the following:
    - Although the statement referred to photographs of the incident, the photos were not described in the context of the breach of contract
    - The conversation with the security guard was not mentioned at all, nor even whether it was the guard who issued the penalty notice
    - No ticket was placed on the car at the time of the alleged incident, which would have allowed the defendant to clarify the position at the time
    - The photographs showed no evidence of legible / visible signage in relation to the car
    - There were different examples of signs in the pack, some of which referred to the requirement for a visitors permit, others did not (we’d picked up on this fact, and were going to raise it ourselves)
    - The reference to visitors permits being required, in any case, did not provide information as to where these permits could be obtained.
    He did ask whether we wanted to say anything. My husband, said he had nothing to add (I was relieved, I felt that the judge was definitely on our side), but my husband being my husband, and having practised his Perry Mason moves for days, couldn’t help himself…my heart sank, as he added the fact that there were two clear time stamps on the pictures, one of which was taken at 12.53, and the rest were taken at 13.07. He said this supported the case that he had indeed spoken to the security guard prior to entering the appointment at 1pm. I wasn’t sure what this added to the case, so I gave him a nudge to stop him overcomplicating things!!

    Anyway, luckily the judge had heard enough, and dismissed the claim on the basis that the witness statement of the claimant was generic, failed to address the issues raised in defence, and as such the burden of probability had not been satisfied. He said that the question of how one obtained a visitor’s permit raised the issue of impossibility as well, but that wasn’t a key factor here due to the other issues already discussed.
    In terms of the case itself, I don’t think that we particularly won in terms of our defence, after all, the car was parked where they say it was, and my husband just didn’t notice the signs as he had spoken to someone that he presumed was in charge. What really sealed it for us it seems, was the fact that Millennium Events and Security just bunged in a generic statement, with some unreferenced photographs and no confirmation of the location of the parking signs in relation to the car. They didn’t actually state that the car wasn’t showing a visitors permit or acknowledge that they have a security guard on site.

    Hopefully this will help others in due course – although this has dragged on for almost 18 months, iam glad we put the effort in, and I actually quite enjoyed the process. We couldn't have done it without the help on here - so thanks!!!
  • Coupon-madCoupon-mad Forumite
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    but my husband being my husband, and having practised his Perry Mason moves for days, couldn’t help himself…my heart sank...
    ...I wasn’t sure what this added to the case, so I gave him a nudge to stop him overcomplicating things!!
    :T

    Well done that man - ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST!

    Did you ask for costs?

    Which court and Judge?
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