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  • FIRST POST
    • Marin348
    • By Marin348 2nd Jul 18, 12:57 PM
    • 5Posts
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    Marin348
    Court Claim - ParkingEye - draft defence help
    • #1
    • 2nd Jul 18, 12:57 PM
    Court Claim - ParkingEye - draft defence help 2nd Jul 18 at 12:57 PM
    Hi guys,

    After a few months of ignoring nuisance letters from ParkingEye about overstaying a parking limit at a nearby Wetherspoons, I have received a County Court Claim Form suggesting they are actually trying to take it all the way.

    As background to the claim, there was a recent change in the management company of a shared business carpark (between Wetherspoons and a number of stores), now managed by ParkingEye's ANPR system. Although there had been signs up previously, it was not obvious that there had been a change in ownership or the new terms had been introduced.

    The car park is in a relatively quiet town without transport links, so often empty outside of normal store hours (8am-8pm etc), so would not have been apparent that there may be a penalty for arriving after 9pm.

    The claim states that the vehicle was within the site for a grand total of 2:4, leaving just after midnight.

    On the back of the parking charge, the statement of "as a paid parking / patron only / maximum stay car park, a Parking Charge is applicable if the motorists fails to make the appropriate tariff payment, tails to enter their full, correct vehicle registration into the terminal in reception, or if the vehicle remains within the car park for longer than the 2 hours 0 minutes max stay". This car park does not offer a payment mechanism, and I also have signed evidence from the manager of the Wetherspoons that the parking registration tablet was not installed at the point of the penalty notice, so customers were not able to register their car within the ParkingEye system.

    In preparation for my defence, I was planning on responding to the court claim form with the following. Thoughts would certainly be appreciated.


    In the County Court
    Claim Number: xxxxxxx

    Between

    ParkingEye Ltd

    v

    Xyour nameX


    DEFENCE




    Background - the Defendant was an authorised patron of Wetherspoons
    1. The Defendant is the registered keeper and driver of the vehicle in question. The Claim relates to an alleged debt arising from the alleged breach of contract, when parking at xxxxx car park on 6/3/18. Any breach is denied, and it is further denied that there was any agreement to pay the Claimant 100 'parking charge' for the lawful conduct described below.

    2. The allegation appears to be that the 'vehicle was not authorised to use the car park' 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 and is no evidence of 'No Authorisation' or not being a patron of the Wetherspoons.

    3. The Defendant has proof that he was a patron of the Wetherspoons in question, as well as the fact that their tablet system had not been installed within the Wetherspoons by this date, and it is the Claimant's own failure clearly trying to unfairly catch victims at this location, that has given rise to a 'PCN' that was not properly issued from the outset.


    Unclear terms - no agreement to pay a penalty as the tablet terminal was not available.
    4. According to the sparse, unlit signs in this car park, to avoid a Parking Charge, users of the service must either make appropriate tariff payments or must "enter their full, correct vehicle registration into the terminal". This is not a pay-and-display car park location, so the only option would have been to use a terminal, which had yet to be installed.

    4.1. At the time of parking on 6/3/18, the Defendant was a patron of the Wetherspoons, and the Defendant has a transaction provided from Wetherspoons themselves, which shows payments and entitled them to free use of the car park during the timeframe in question. This evidence has provided by the manager of the Wetherspoons.

    4.2. The Defendant has a signed statement from the manager of the Wetherspoons, stating that the ParkingEye registration tablet was installed on the 16th March 2018, so customers did not have the ability to register their cars on the ParkingEye system prior to this date.

    4.3. Prior to the Defendant's visit, ParkingEye had only recently placed their signage within the car park creating new terms and conditions for motorists. The BPA Code of Practice v6 which applied in December 2017, states at 18.11: ''Where there is any change in the terms and conditions that materially affects the motorist then you should make these clear on your signage. Where such changes impose liability where none previously existed then you should consider a grace period to allow regular visitors to the site to adjust and familiarise themselves with the changes.''

    4.4. It is contended that the Claimant failed to alert regular local visitors to an onerous change and unexpected obligation to use a tablet at the Wetherspoons or risk 100 penalty. The Claimant is put to strict proof, with the bar being set by Denning LJ in J Spurling Ltd v Bradshaw [1956] in the well-known 'Red Hand Rule' where hidden/unknown terms were held to be unenforceable: ''Some clauses which I have seen would need to be printed in red ink...with a red hand pointing to it before the notice could be held to be sufficient.''


    Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations - breach
    5. Upon receiving the claim, the Defendant went straight to Wetherspoons and had a fairly long conversation with the Manager, who was unhappy that these complaints were becoming a daily occurrence for them, ever since the enforcement started. The Manager stated that once the tablet system had been installed, they still needed to verbally prompt their customers to register VRN details on the installed tablet, as the signs used to indicate this, are 'far from obvious'. The Manager expressed their disgust with the Claimant suing their patrons and driving away business.

    5.1. The only route offered was an 'appeal' to ParkingEye themselves, but the Defendant knew he had done nothing wrong as a matter of principle, and honestly believed from research that private parking charges and the appeals systems were unlikely to be fairly weighted in favour of consumers.

    5.2. This fact was later confirmed in the second reading of the Private Parking Code of Practice Bill on 2nd February 2018, where more than one MP named and shamed ParkingEye and the unanimously damning Hansard quotes include: ''the current system of regulation is hopeless, like putting Dracula in charge of the blood-bank''; ''wilfully misleading; signage is a deliberate act to deceive or mislead''; ''confusing signs are often deliberate, to trap innocent drivers''; ''unreasonable; operating in a disgusting way''; ''appeals service is no guarantee of a fair hearing''; ''outrageous scam''; ''the British Parking Association is as much use as a multi-storey car park in the Gobi desert''; and finally, by way of unanimous conclusion: ''we need to crack down on these rogue companies. They are an absolute disgrace to this country. Ordinary motorists and ordinary residents should not have to put up with this''.


    No locus standi
    6. In order to issue and to pursue unpaid charges via litigation, the Claimant is required to have the written authority of the landowner, on whose behalf they are acting as an agent. ParkingEye has taken no steps to provide evidence that such authority has been supplied by the Claimant or their legal representatives, and the Claimant is put to strict proof.


    No 'legitimate interest' or commercial justification - Beavis is distinguished
    7. 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, all too often at this location, unfairly ticket a patron of the Wetherspoons, any commercial justification in the form of support by the Wetherspoonse for such unfair ticketing is absent.

    7.1. With no 'legitimate interest' excuse for charging this unconscionable sum given the above facts, this Claimant is fully aware that their claim is reduced to an unrecoverable penalty and must fail. This case is fully distinguished in all respects, from ParkingEye Ltd v Beavis [2015] UKSC 67, where the decision turned on a legitimate interest and clear notices.


    Data Protection Act and BPA Code of Practice breach
    8. This Claimant uses ANPR camera systems to process data but fails to comply with the Information Commissioner's 'Data Protection Code of Practice for Surveillance Cameras and Personal Information' (the ICO Code). This is both a specific Data Protection and BPA Code of Practice breach.

    8.1. The ICO Code applies to all ANPR systems, and states that the private sector is required to follow it, in order to meet its legal obligations as a data processor. Members of the BPA are required to comply fully with the Data Protection Act (DPA) and all ICO rules and guidelines, as a pre-requisite of being able to use the DVLA KADOE system and in order to enforce parking charges on private land.

    8.2. The Claimant's failures to comply include, but are not limited to the following, and the Claimant is put to strict proof otherwise on all counts:

    i) Lack of an initial privacy impact assessment, and

    ii) Lack of an evaluation of proportionality and necessity, considering concepts that would impact upon fairness under the first data protection principle, and

    iii) Failure to regularly evaluate whether it was necessary and proportionate to continue using ANPR, together with an iPad as a secondary data processing system at this site, as opposed to a less privacy-intrusive method of parking enforcement (such as 'light touch' enforcement only at busy times, or manning the car park with a warden in order to consider the needs of genuine patrons), and

    iv) Failure to consider the number of complaints from the Wetherspoons and other businesses, which would have alerted this Claimant to the fact that their 'iPad system' and woeful sign was not being seen by all genuine patrons and was therefore a wholly inappropriate method of data capture, which was unreliable at best and negligent (or even deliberately misleading) at worst, being the main cause of unfair parking charges against Odeon patrons, and

    v) Failure to prominently inform a driver in large lettering on clear signage, of the purpose of the ANPR system and the iPad system and how the data captured on both would be used, and

    vi) Lack of the 'Privacy Notice' required to deliver mandatory information about an individual's right of subject access, under the DPA. At no point has the Defendant been advised how to apply for, and what a data subject's rights are, to obtain all images and data held via a Subject Access Request from the Claimant.

    9. This Claimant has therefore failed to meet its legal obligations and has breached principle 1 (at least) of the DPA, as well as the BPA Code of Practice.


    Unlawful conduct/data use and breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015
    10. In a similar instance of DPA failure by excessive and inappropriate use of ANPR cameras - confirmed on this Claimant's Trade Body (BPA) website in a 2013 article urging its members to comply - Hertfordshire Constabulary was issued with an enforcement notice. The force were ordered to stop processing people's information via ANPR until they could comply. The Information Commissioner ruled that the collection of the information was specifically illegal; breaching principle one of the DPA.

    11. The Court's attention will be drawn to the case of Andre Agassi v S Robinson (HM Inspector of Taxes). Whilst not wholly aligned to the issues in this case, it is on all fours with the above point, because of the principle it extols that no one should profit from their unlawful conduct. Paragraph 20 of the Transcript of that case states: ''It is common ground that, whatever costs may be recoverable by a litigant in respect of professional services such as those provided by Tenon to the appellant, they cannot include the cost of any activities which are unlawful''. Paragraph 28 continues - ''...cannot on any view recover the cost of activities performed by Tenon which it was not lawful for them to perform.''

    11.1. Further, in RTA (Business Consultants) Limited v Bracewell [2015] EWHC 630 (QB) (12 March 2015), at paragraph 34 the Judge discusses the relevance of the public law principle going back well over 200 years, that no man should profit from his crime; it is submitted that this is particularly relevant in this action. The Judge cited Lord Mansfield CJ to explain that: ''The principle of public policy is this; ex dolo malo non oritur actio. No Court will lend its aid to a man who founds his cause of action upon an immoral or an illegal act. If [...] the cause of action appears to arise ex turpi causa, or the transgression of a positive law of this country, there the Court says he has no right to be assisted. It is upon that ground the Court goes; not for the sake of the defendant, but because they will not lend their aid to such a plaintiff.''

    12. Even if there was a purported contract between the Claimant and the Defendant, it was illegal at its formation because it was incapable of being created without an illegal act (due to non-compliance with the ICO requirements at the outset, before enforcement started using ANPR systems at this site).

    12.1. Where a contract is illegal when formed, neither party will acquire rights under that contract, regardless of whether or not there was an intention to break the law; the contract will be void and treated as if it had never been entered into. As such, the asserted contract cannot be enforced.

    12.2. To add weight, the Defendant also cites from ParkingEye Ltd v Somerfield Stores Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 1338. Whilst the facts of that case differ, due to the arguments between the two commercial parties, the Judge's comments at paragraph 29 of the Transcript of Somerfield are of importance, where he discussed ParkingEye's misleading letters to consumers, whereby they had committed the tort of deceit. : ''At common law, historically, a distinction has been drawn between cases where the guilty party intended from the time of entering the contract unlawfully and cases where the intention to perform unlawfully was only made subsequently''. Laws LJ, in Somerfield, concluded that ParkingEye did not set out to deceive consumers before they signed the contract with Somerfield, so the contract was upheld in that case.

    12.2.1. Differently in this case, it is asserted that the Claimant did deliberately or negligently break the DPA. Being a BPA member with access to a wealth of ICO and DVLA-led data compliance information, relevant articles, compliance events and specific parking & DPA related legal advice for members, and given that this Claimant has its own in-house Legal Team and solicitors, it cannot justify nor plead ignorance to excuse their conduct in failing to meet their legal obligations both before enforcement and by way of regular evaluations to avoid just this sort of data abuse.

    12.2.2. At paragraphs 65-74 of the Somerfield transcript, Laws LJ set out three factors which need to be considered in a defence of illegality. The Defendant submits that the key issues in this action are that:

    (i) the commission of an illegal wrong being present at the time of entering the contract means that the Claimant will not be able to enforce the contract.

    (ii) the illegality is central to the contract and is not merely a minor aspect, thus it should not be held to be too remote so as to render the contract enforceable.

    (iii) the nature of the illegality: in this case it was a breach of legal obligations regarding data, and not merely a civil tort as in Somerfield. The gravity of the illegality is therefore far greater.

    13. The Defendant avers that a breach of the DPA and failure to comply with ICO rules regarding data captured by ANPR, also transgresses the tests of fairness and transparency of consumer contracts, as set out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (enacted after the final hearing in Beavis and not considered in that case).

    13.1. The excessive, inappropriate and unjustified use of ANPR alongside a hidden iPad system by this claimant is both unfair and lacking in transparency for an average consumer and as such, this claim must fail.


    Unconscionable and unrecoverable inflation of the 'parking charge'
    14. 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 I submit have not actually been incurred by the Claimant.

    14.1. 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. I put the Claimant to strict proof to the contrary because the in-house Solicitors cannot possibly be believed to be paid in the millions per annum for their services.

    15. The added 'legal' cost is in fact an artificially invented figure, which represents a cynical attempt to circumvent the Small Claims costs rules and achieve double recovery. In Beavis, only the parking charge itself (85) was pursued and the sum was scrutinised by the Supreme Court and held to already include a significant sum in profit; being a pre-set sum dressed up as a fee or charge agreed in contract. This was already significantly over and above the very minimal costs of operating an automated ticketing regime, and it was held that the claim could not have been pleaded as damages, and would have failed.

    15.1. Similarly, in Somerfield a 75 parking charge was not held to be a penalty but a sum mentioned in the harassing letters of double that amount, almost certainly would be.

    16. 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.

    I confirm that the facts in this defence are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.


    Name/signature

    Date

    Thanks for any help
    Last edited by Marin348; 02-07-2018 at 2:14 PM.
Page 2
    • Marin348
    • By Marin348 6th Aug 18, 12:17 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Marin348
    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your help in the initial defense. I've just received a small claims mediation form, where ParkingEye have expressed a desire to go down this route.

    I'm happy to use this as it seems like a great way to resolve the issue without the need to waste the courts time (well, any more than PE have already required) - but I just wanted to get your opinion on it, and also any pointers for when it comes to the recovery of expenses/time already spent (I'm a contractor and with the previous dates falling around time I needed to be abroad, I had little option other than taking a day off to get everything in order - incurring direct cost).

    Thanks again
    Mike
    • Umkomaas
    • By Umkomaas 6th Aug 18, 12:24 PM
    • 20,745 Posts
    • 32,666 Thanks
    Umkomaas
    I'm happy to use this as it seems like a great way to resolve the issue without the need to waste the courts time
    It certainly is a great way to resolve it without the need to waste the court's time. You just pay PE what they are currently demanding - they are unlikely to settle for less and you will be put through the wringer by the mediator whose only concern is to get this settled. They are not interested in fairness.

    Please read the expert advice on this in the NEWBIES FAQ sticky, post #2.
    Please note, we are not a legal, residential or credit advice forum, rather one that helps motorists fight private parking charges, primarily at the 'front-end' of the process.
    Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
    • Marin348
    • By Marin348 6th Aug 18, 12:31 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Marin348
    Thanks for the quick response Umkomaas - will certainly keep that in mind if I do give this a go, and just expect to have to stand my ground on pretty much everything.

    I have no plans to even entertain paying PE a single penny over this, and actually think there could be a level of satisfaction bringing it to the courts attention that they have clearly made other knowingly fraudulent claims within this car-park over the same time period (as their tablet system was not installed at this time) in the hope the courts suggest they go back through their records and also refund any other parties who just paid the money to keep the peace.
    • Umkomaas
    • By Umkomaas 6th Aug 18, 12:44 PM
    • 20,745 Posts
    • 32,666 Thanks
    Umkomaas
    I have no plans to even entertain paying PE a single penny
    Mediation is a complete waste of time as there will be absolutely no meeting of minds
    Please note, we are not a legal, residential or credit advice forum, rather one that helps motorists fight private parking charges, primarily at the 'front-end' of the process.
    Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
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