The Parking Prankster received a court report from an interested observer this week. The observer had gone to watch 3 ParkingEye cases at Bristol crown court.
The first case was A0JD8464, ParkingEye v Walsh. DDJ Orme was presiding. ParkingEye were represented by a solicitor from LPC Law. Mr/Mrs Walsh did not turn up.
In their absence the judge read the defence, which stated that they had visited the car park twice rather than once. The DDJ then gave judgment for claimant of £100 plus court fee of £15 plus hearing fee of £25 plus solicitor filing fee of £50.
The LPC Law lady asked for her own costs of £250, stating that the defendant had behaved unreasonably in not turning up. The judge agreed, and added £250 + VAT (£300) to the bill. Total cost to the Defendant was £490.
The DDJ remarked "that was a very expensive shopping trip"
The defendants in the other two cases failed to turn up as well, and presumably got similar judgments against them.
This illustrates an important principle; you must respect the court process. If you do not, the costs against you may escalate. Had the defendant turned up, they would most likely have won their case. ParkingEye cameras are notoriously unreliable, so all the defendant would have needed to do would be to truthfully take the judge through the events of the day, explaining that they visited twice. The judge would have been able to determine they were telling the truth, and would have dismissed the claim. This has happened in several other cases.
Judges are not omniscient. They will in general be unaware that the technology behind ANPR cameras is unreliable, and that large numbers of errors occur every day. The Prankster website contains a large amount of information on this subject which you can use as evidence in your defence, and The Prankster guides contain information on how to explain this to judges. The Prankster has seen the documents ParkingEye present to the court on ANPR. They will attempt to mislead and deceive the judge by presenting irrelevant information not related to the issue in hand, so any defendant will need to be well informed to present their case.
Even if the judge had ruled for ParkingEye, the amount would have been limited to £190. As the solicitor filing fee is not actually incurred by ParkingEye, and was not awarded to them in ParkingEye v Beavis and Wardley, a case ParkingEye now always quote, then the judge may have followed HHJ Moloney's lead and refused to award the £50, taking the amount to £140. The fact that HHJ Moloney did not award the £50 filing fee was not disputed by ParkingEye's solicitor, Mr Altaras, who attended the judgment hearing.
The moral of the story is; if you intend to defend the case, turn up to the hearing. If not, pay up at least two weeks before the hearing is due. If you intend paying up, it is always worth negotiating with ParkingEye as they will usually settle for £50. You should also always write to the landowner because they may also be able to force ParkingEye to either drop the claim or settle for £50. ParkingEye attend around 5-10 court hearings a day, and so will lose around £1k - £3k a day in fees to LPC Law - as long as the defendants turn up. They therefore have every incentive to settle so that they do not make a loss. This means ParkingEye are shelling out something like £250,000 to £750,000 a year to LPC Law which they will not get back if the defendant behaves reasonably. In 2013 their profit was £1,020,000 - and at that time they were not using LPC Law. Their strategy of going to court would have therefore wiped out almost all their profits in 2013 had it been in place then.
This is a sad story. There is no reason to doubt that the motorist visited twice. If this was the case, then ParkingEye have scammed them out of almost £500, but this was their own fault for not turning up to defend the claim - an expensive lesson indeed!
The Parking Prankster