- DVLA give out data to yet another parking company not in an ATA
- Solicitor of the Week, Thomas Browne, admits claim was without merit
- ACE Security cancels baseless court claim
- Beavis appeal result confirms parking charge is without merit
The case concerns a vehicle parked against the landowner's wishes nine times between 9/7/2013 and 22/2/2014. The driver, a young man, paid four charges but then did not pay the rest. They also rather foolishly pretended to be someone else and paid using a pre-signed cheque on somebody else's account. The driver at one point telephoned the parking company company which was recorded.
There is of course no doubt the driver is liable for some form of charge, and that the basis of the charge is trespass. The signage states "Failure to comply with the rules made by the landowner will mean your vehicle is trespassing and will result in the issue of a charge notice of £130"
The parking company, ACE Security Systems (also known as Pace Recovery and Storage Systems Ltd), contacted the person who the driver impersonated and started to badger them into paying the remaining five charges. This person explained they were not the driver. This was of course, patently obvious as they were a much older person and their voice did not match with the voice on the recording.
ACE Security then made one enquiry to the DVLA. The enquiry was made on 12/09/2014 for the parking event on 27/01/2014. ACE Security then started writing to the keeper to demand payment. The keeper was a woman and therefore could not have been the driver. The enquiry to the DVLA was made outside the timescales for keeper liability and so there was no keeper liability either. ACE Security therefore had no basis for contacting the keeper whatsoever, but this not stop them bulling and harassing her.
Luckily ACE Security do not belong to an ATA so there is no-one to stop them doing this, there is no independent appeals service which the motorist can appeal to and there is no control on the level of charges. The letters therefore continued.
ACE Security ask the DVLA to cough up data on the basis that the landowner has been trespassed against. Their website clearly claims they are acting as a car park management company.
The DVLA requires car park management companies to belong to an ATA. ACE Security do not, but this does not stop the DVLA from supplying keeper data anyway. When the keeper complained, the DVLA replied as follows.
Stating they had to supply data until the judicial revue is concluded is of course is a slight fib by the DVLA. The judge's order only required them to provide data to Proserve until the judicial review is over - not to any Tom Dick and Harry who asks for it. Additionally, the ACE Security request was made on 12/9/2014. The order that Proserve had to be supplied with data was only made on 17/12/2014.
The DVLA letter therefore gives no valid explanation as to why ACE Security was given data at that particular time, and it is apparent that the DVLA will give out data to anyone who asks for it without making proper checks.
Following a large amount of other letters, ACE Security finally filed a claim against the impersonated person. The claim was for trespass.
When a claim is made for trespass only someone who has an interest in the land can make the claim*, and additionally the charge must be for actual damage caused by the trespass. If no damages have occurred, a nominal amount of £1 is usually used. A 1.5 tonne vehicle parked on tarmac designed to hold a 1.5 tonne vehicle is not likely to cause any damage. The nominal sum of £1 would therefore apply.
So what we have here is a claim made against someone the claimant should reasonably have known was neither the driver nor the keeper, for trespass when the claimant had no no apparent interest in the land, and for an amount of £975 (£195 per charge) which had no relation to any possible trespass damage caused.
Despite this Thomas Brown of Bowles Solicitors filed a claim anyway.
Later on, Thomas Browne submitted an amendment to the claim to add in the keeper. This is despite knowing that the keeper could not possibly be the driver, (because she was a woman and the driver was a man), and that keeper liability could not possibly apply because the timescales of POFA 2012 were not complied with.
At this point The Prankster was contacted for advice. The Prankster could not see any apparent cause of action against either of the defendants so suggested that they write to the solicitors suggesting they drop the claim.
The solicitors responded by making an offer to settle for £500. The Prankster advised that this was a bluff and to reject the offer. 10 days later the solicitors wrote again notifying that they were discontinuing the claim. Bizarrely they cited the ParkingEye v Beavis appeal result as the reason for discontinuing.
That paragraph is as follows:
It is an oddity of the facts that the respondent appears not to make any money out of thecontract unless drivers do overstay, so enabling Mr Hossain to argue that, so far from suffering loss by a driver overstaying, the respondent only stands to gain by that breach of contract (though of course if the appellant is right and the parking charge is unenforceable, the operator does not stand to gain anything under any circumstances). The law would allow damages for trespass against the overstayer without regard to what the operator would have done but for the trespass: see for example Swordheath Properties v Tabet  1 WLR 285. Thus, the actual effect of the trespass on the car park operator's position is not relevant in any event. However, unless the defendant's occupation has been of particular value to him, the compensation would be limited to the market value of the occupation during the period of trespass. That would provide no disincentive against overstaying.Of course, this is tried and tested trespass law. The Beavis case shed no special light on this and any person competent in the legal aspects of trespass should have known this. In the Prankster's opinion, the claim had no basis. It was filed against the wrong defendant, by the wrong claimant and for an amount not justified by any existing case law.
Now that ACE Securities legal representatives have admitted they have no basis for claiming their charge in this case, The Prankster can see no basis for them charging this amount in any other case. This means that any further application to the DVLA should be refused because there is no reasonable cause. This should only be changed once ACE Security have confirmed that their charge levels have been adjusted to the actual loss to the landowner.
The Prankster suggests that any person receiving a charge from ACE Security complains to the DVLA if the keeper data is released, and also appeals to ACE Security with a copy of the letter from their legal representatives which confirms their charge is not allowable.
The Parking Prankster
*this is an oversimplification