This is the maximum allowed according to CPR 45.1 and 45.2
45.1(1) This Section sets out the amounts which, unless the court orders otherwise, are to be allowed in respect of legal representatives’ charges.
Thus, if a solicitor charges £100 to file a claim, the claimant would only be able to claim £50. If a solicitor charges £20, on the other hand, then the claimant would only be able to £20. They cannot claim £50, pass £20 on to their solicitor, and pocket the rest.
In most cases, it would seem extremely unlikely that a solicitor would pick their nose for £20, let alone file a claim for that amount. However in ParkingEye's case, the situation is complicated because they do not pay an external solicitor to file a claim, but do it using the name of their in-house solicitors, Rachael Ledson or more recently Rossana Breaks.
This means that there is no invoice which can be produced by ParkingEye to show they were charged £50 or more by a solicitor. An in-house solicitor is allowed to charge for the work they did (or persons supervised by them did) in filing the claim; however, the important point here is that they must charge for the work actually done - not an arbitrary amount.
Last year, ParkingEye filed over 30,000 claims. That is a total of 30,000 x £50 or £1,500,000 in solicitor's filing costs. It is difficult to see how ParkingEye can justify this amount. They cannot possible pay Rosanna Breaks anywhere near that amount.
30,000 claims is 115 claims a day, or 14 an hour (for an 8 hour working day). If Rosanna Breaks worked flat out with no holidays, no time to eat and no toilet breaks she would still have to file one claim every 4 minutes. At £50 a time this is an hourly rate of £700. Obviously ParkingEye's barrister Jonathan Kirk is in the wrong job.
Of course, as we can all deduce, ParkingEye's filings are almost completely automated. The text consists of one of a few templates filled in with the specific details of the claim. There is no signature needed; a typed name is sufficient for filing bulk claims. If any checking is done this would be surprising, given the amount of claims filed where the defendant is out of jurisdiction. Rosanna Breaks has even filed claims when the defendant has replied to the letter before claim and has confirmed that she was powerless to stop the automatic filing.
ParkingEye's next accounts are due by September 30th 2015. Their last accounts showed their salary costs to be around £4.5 million pounds.
The Prankster previously published the job titles of all 166 ParkingEye employees, showing that in November 2013 there were only 2 people in the legal department, the Head of Legal and a paralegal. There were also 5 people in the claims team.
It does seem unrealistic for ParkingEye to claim that 1/3 of their salary costs are needed to file 30,000 claims a year while the rest of the cost runs the entire remainder of the operation.
And indeed, this is the case. A letter from ParkingEye's head of legal, Rachael Ledson, confirms this.
Ms Ledson states that the costs are in fact nothing whatsoever to do with costs 'on commencement of a claim' but in fact she has lumped in other costs because 'the required attendance on the file takes place for several months prior to the date of issue'. As ParkingEye typically issue a claim 14 days after sending the Letter Before Claim filing then it is clear that the several months of attendance are to do with the normal process of parking charge collection, and have nothing to do with the commencement of a claim.
This of course, was apparently the view of HHJ Moloney in the ParkingEye v Beavis case. HHJ Moloney ordered Mr Beavis to pay £135, which comprise the £85 parking charge, the £25 filing fee and the £25 hearing fee. He did not include the £50 solicitor filing fee in the amount Mr Beavis had to pay.
This is also the view of District Judge Sparrow in Southampton.
On 7th August he issued the above order staying a case until the Supreme Court judgment is available, but also striking out the £50 solicitor costs.
Upon hearing the Defendant in person and hearing the solicitor for the Claimant solicitor, it is ordered that:
1) The element of claim relating to solicitor's costs of issue is struck out.
The Prankster recommends that any motorist contests the £50 filing cost, and submits the above judgment of DJ Sparrow as evidence.
This advice applies not only to ParkingEye claims. Civil Enforcement Limited is known to claim £50 as the filing costs the solicitor Michael Schwartz charged them. However, they have never substantiated this amount despite umpteen request and it is therefore suspected he charges them much less and they pocket the difference.
The Parking Prankster