Friday, 18 July 2014

POPLA rule an address for service can be abroad

In a recent parking dispute the registered keeper wrote to ParkingDirect UK providing them with the name and address of the driver, who was currently living in Australia. This discharged his obligation under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, and meant that he was no longer liable for the parking charge.

The regulations are quite clear on what is required for an address for service for a driver.

As the keeper had provided the address where the driver for the time being resided (in Australia), this satisfied the act. Incidentally, it also satisfied the 'can be conveniently be contacted' criteria; the last time The Prankster checked, all you had to do to contact an address in Australia was to write a letter, address it and pop a stamp on the envelope. What could be more convenient than that?

Sadly, ParkingDirect UK did not agree, and tried to twist the law for their own convenience.

Thank you for providing me with the hire agreement for the above mentioned vehicle. In line with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 you must provide us with a UK serviceable address to transfer liability to the hirer. I am therefore unable to transfer liability to the hirer.
The Parking operator seemed to be undergoing some form of brain fart as the vehicle was not being hired out, but being used by the keeper's daughter. Nevertheless, they used behaviour typical of the disreputable end of the parking business, following the lead of companies such as ParkingEye, by lying through their back teeth. Nowhere in the Act does it state the address must be in the UK.

The keeper therefore wrote to them to point out the error of their ways, demanding a POPLA code

ParkingDirect UK rejected the appeal again on the grounds that the '....drivers details must be convenient to contact....'. Apparently the concept of popping a stamp on a correctly addressed envelope is alien to them,  as they chose to interpret the act to mean that anything but a UK address was inconvenient to contact. Their reading skills were also sadly retarded because the act also allows the address where 'the driver for the time being resides' to be supplied; they seem to have missed that bit out when considering their reply.

The keeper was provided a POPLA code, and decided to make a single point appeal on behalf of the general public to test out POPLA's view on the matter.

The PCN clearly states under ‘HOW TO PAY’ that the driver is required to pay the parking charge or the PPC requires the name and ‘service address’ of the driver at the time. In my correspondence I have provided this service address. My daughter currently resides in Australia and she has been passed a copy of this PCN.

I have provided the operator with a serviceable name and address and therefore discharged my liability under POFA 2012. As I was not the driver they can no longer pursue me for this charge 
POFA 2012 defines a current address for service as: 
(a) in the case of the keeper, an address which is either—(i) an address at which documents relating to civilproceedings could properly be served on the personconcerned under Civil Procedure Rules; or(ii) the keeper’s registered address (if there is one); or(b) in the case of the driver, an address at which the driver for thetime being resides or can conveniently be contacted;
However the PPC is still pursuing me for a UK service address,
The Protection of Freedoms Act. Schedule 4 Para 5(1)(b) refers only to an address at which documents can be served. It makes no mention that the address must be in the UK, as she is in Australia. I refer you to this information from the Australian Government website
A quote from the website states:
Australia does not object to the use of private process servers, diplomatic channels or local agents. However, we have made reservations to article 10 of the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters 1965 (Hague Service Convention) with respect to the use of postal channels for the service of documents. We request that only registered post be used if documents are to be served by post.

POPLA duly upheld the appeal, and ordered that the ticket be cancelled.
The Operator rejected the Appellant’s representations because they state that by stopping or waiting in a restricted area, the Appellant has breached  the terms and conditions of the parking contract.They advise that according to the BPA Code of Practice and Protection of Freedoms Act, the driver’s details must be convenient for them to contact and accordingly, they have requested the Appellant to provide a UK serviceable address where driver can be conveniently contacted and they can transfer liability to the hirer.
The onus is on the Operator to support the enforcement of the parking charge notice on balance of probabilities. The Operator’s submissions refer to the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and the British Parking Association and advise that the address of the driver has to be a convenient serviceable address, nevertheless, there is no requirement in the Protection of Freedoms Act that the registered keeper has to provide a UK serviceable address. In the present case, the Appellant has provided an Australian serviceable address for the driver of the vehicle which appears to be a valid serviceable address and he has also provided evidence that he was outside the country on the date of event and therefore, he has discharged his liability in relation to this parking charge notice. Accordingly, I allow this appeal.
The Operator should now cancel the parking charge notice forthwith. 
Prankster Analysis

Providing a genuine foreign address is perfectly legitimate. If the driver has two address, one foreign and one in the UK it would seem that as parking companies do not know how to conveniently contact people who live abroad, the foreign address is the most likely one to make them give up.

However, do not be tempted to lie and give a fake foreign address. This would be perverting the course of justice, and as Chris Huhne found out, likely to end up needing you to add a third address for a period of some months.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. To play devils advocate, 'Perverting the course of Justice' is surely a legal term in relation to a legal case or the police. Giving a foreign address to a PPC or POPLA is simply lying. Unless the case continues to legal proceedings and you maintain the lie. Of course I wouldn't advocate it, there are easier ways to skin a cat.

    1. Mmm, and parking companies demonstrably cling to their lies even into the courtroom, which seems to me exactly what the Fraud Act 2006 is supposed to cover.