3QT62386 ParkingEye v Arora. Claim dismissed for failure to obey directions.
ParkingEye lost a case which had been stayed since December. During the original hearing District Judge Jenkins, who had already ruled twice that ParkingEye did not have standing to bring previous cases, stayed the case to allow ParkingEye time to consider whether to substitute the landowner as claimant, and to potentially hear similar cases en bloc.
However ParkingEye chose to ignore the judge's clear directions, and instead sent him a letter containing the transcript of VCS v HMRC. Worse still, ParkingEye chose to lie in other cases, telling them that Judge Jenkin's previous decisions could not be relied on because he had scheduled a new hearing to decide the issue. This was a clear misrepresentation of the facts; the reason the case was stayed was to decide whether to substitue the landowner as claimant. Despite writing to Rachel Ledson, head of ParkingEye's legal department, ParkingEye continued to attempt to deceive the courts.
ParkingEye missed the deadline to comply with the directions, but the defendant was left in the dark as to what was happening. Despite many emails and phone calls to the court, no information was forthcoming. Finally a letter was received from the court asking to attend for judgment on the case. This was a little worrying as so far the defendant had not had a chance to present any defence. The hope was therefore that judgment could only be for the defendant, but nothing could of course be sure.
ParkingEye's representative from LPC Law had no information either. He was sent to the court with no notes of information and was there just as an observer to note the judgment.
During the hearing Judge Jenkins explained that the letter sent out was misleading. There was another stayed case he was hearing today, where the judgment was being given. He ran through the chronology of this case, explaining that ParkingEye had not complied with his directions and that he was therefore striking the case out.
The defendant was given the maximum allowed costs of £90.
ParkingEye have wasted a lot of money on this case; two LPC Law fees, defendant's expenses, filing fee and hearing fee, together with time and energy spent assembling their template responses, demolishing a small rainforest to print them out and associated postage costs.
Possibly a bigger cost to them is their loss of reputation with judges. ParkingEye seem to beleive that the rules and expected behaviours of the court system does not apply to them. They ignored the judge's directions in ParkingEye v Martin and again here. They have in the past filed tens of thousands of claims with non-compliant Letters Before Claim. They file new legal arguments willy-nilly without filing the required forms or paying a fee, despite warning defendants not to do the same. They conduct hearings by ambush, regularly attempting to produce new documents in court on the day of the hearing. They tick the box on the claim form saying they do not want mediation, then claim the opposite.
All this is no doubt being noted by the judiciary, and is not likely to win them friends in the courtroom.
Meanwhile the thorny question of ParkingEye's right to bring a claim is still in issue. It seems that in some car parks where ParkingEye pay for the right to enforce charges, they may be viewed as principal. In these car parks ParkingEye do not provide their usual web interface to the landowner showing how many charges have been issues and paid, and do not collect charges on behalf of the landowner. However, in the vast majority of car parks, ParkingEye act as agent collecting the charges on behalf of the landowner. They provide a web interface showing the status of charges, and issue VAT only invoices to the landowner. In these car parks, the judgment in ParkingEye v Somerfield applies where the judges found that ParkingEye did not have the right to bring claims in their own name. This is a court of appeal judgment, and therefore binding on lower courts. The Prankster will write a blog piece on this in the near future.
The Parking Prankster