In a shock development Civil Enforcement Limited turned up in court. Possibly this was because they attempted to trick the Defendant into not turning up, and were therefore hoping for a default win.
The Defendant received several texts the day before the hearing, and contacted The Prankster for advice.
The Prankster advised the defendant to turn up anyway. He advised it was unlikely that CEL had actually instructed counsel because if they had, counsel would have surely advised them to cut their losses and call off the hearing. He stated it was more likely that as the defendant had never requested a stay of proceedings, that it was a trick by CEL, and that if they turned up but the defendant did not then CEL would get a default win.
On the day Mr Weinburgh (or possibly Weinstein) appeared for CEL in court as a 'representative of the company; he did not appear to be legally qualified, let alone a 'counsel'. His suit appeared to cost all of £25 and his tie was last fashionable in the 70's. The defendant stated that the charge was not a genuine pre-estimate of loss (GPEOL). The judge, impressed, asked the defendant if he had been to law school. The defendant had to admit he had an arts degree. CEL retorted that although the charge was not a GPEOL, it was not a penalty either, although he had no convincing explanation why.
The judge ruled that the attempt by the claimant to trick the defendant into not turning up by texting that the case was adjourned for 21 days was not admissible as evidence as it had 'without prejeduce' (sic) on it. (The Prankster disagrees with the judge on this. 'Without prejudice' is only a protection is there is a genuine attempt to negotiate; it cannot be used as protection for a text trying to trick the defendant into not appearing)
This was probably good news for CEL. Their updated costs schedule included an extra £140 for drafting a witness statement (£70), handling the file (£45) and the hearing fee (£25).
The Prankster has compared the witness statement signed by Ashley Cohen with other witness statements he has from CEL also signed by Ashley Cohen. It appears to be generic with no identifying features of the actual case, and almost entirely consisting of template paragraphs used in other cases. The Prankster either thinks that CEL were ripped off if someone charged them £70 for essentially a copy of witness statements used in other cases, or alternatively they are trying to deceive the judge which would be a fraudulent action. It is probably lucky for CEL that this witness statement is lost in the court archives somewhere.
In his judgment, the judge ruled that the small grainy black and white photograph was not sufficient evidence that the vehicle was present at the alleged times. The parking event was before 1 October 2012, and therefore keeper liability did not apply. As the keeper was playing golf at the time and had a witness in court to prove this, there was no case to answer.
The claim was dismissed.
The judge did not award costs, even though arguably the claim had no merit and no hope of succeeding.
The Claimant submitted this schedule of costs. In the unlikely event of them ever having the claim upheld, The Prankster considers most of these not applicable to small claims and would strongly argue against them.
Allowable costs would include the £25 hearing fee, and the travel portion of the 'claimants attending court'. They would be allowed their travel costs at the cheapest reasonable way of attending, but not any amount for loss of earnings as they will be paid for attending court, which is part of their job.
All the other amounts are intended to bump up the claim to scare the defendant into paying.
The Parking Prankster