Sadly at the last minute he was unable to make it and sent a video recording instead. It appears that the government's position is that consultation is still ongoing and they are unable to make an announcement, or even set a date when they can make an announcement.
The summit continued anyway, with speeches from the opposition Minister, and from representatives from the DVLA and DCLG. The BPA had also invited speakers to talk on a number of topics. The format was that each session had 3 short speeches from a parking operator, motorist representative and landowner representative, followed by questions and answers. The Prankster was invited to speak on the topic of "fairness in the judicial system."
The general consensus was summed up by Nick Lester-Davis at the end:
1. Landowners have rights, but with rights come responsibility. They must take more responsibility for what happens on their land.
2. The must be a clear and consistent treatment of the customer, whether in private or statutory parking
3. The only way to achieve the above points is through legislation. A single standards body and appeals system is necessary.
At some point in the sessions Lords Hurley and Davies stopped fiddling with their mobile phones and laptops long enough to generously offer to provide the single appeals service, which was greeted by a tumbleweed blowing across the room. Nicola Mullaney (ISPA) pointed out that an appeals service could not be fair if the assessors names were kept secret, and that any system where businesses could forum shop to choose an inferior appeals service was worthless. It was also pointed out that the ADR Entity status was currently worthless because the CTSI had been handing out accreditations like confetti, without proper checks and balances.
For posterity, The Prankster's prepared speech was as follows:
I get 5 to 10 emails a day from motorists asking for help. In the vast majority these are not parking abusers but genuine customers (now ex-customers) or residents falling foul of schemes designed to generate penalty revenue rather than provide proper management. many of these are from disabled motorists or elderly people - the vulnerable members of society.
ParkingEye v Beavis is being touted as the legal principle that all parking charges are valid. This is a red herring. The Beavis case was only about establishing whether the penalties rule applied if a charge was not a genuine pre-estimate of loss.
I don’t remember winning any court cases pre-Beavis on charge levels. Yet I’m winning just as many cases if not more post Beavis – perhaps this is because the Beavis case has encouraged parking companies to file more claims, no matter how flimsy the grounds.
POPLA's statistics show only 5% of cases were stayed pending the Beavis case because the charge levels were queried; yet around 50% of appeals are upheld, mainly on grounds of signage. This is reflected in the court process.
However, if a parking company can avoid POPLA they get a much better return in the courts for two reasons
1 – huge numbers of motorists are intimidated by receiving court papers and simply pay up
2 – the parking company can add on an extra £50 in filing fees which they do not incur
Additionally the parking companys are masters of playing the court system by
• Insisting the motorist strictly obeys procedures while ignoring procedures themselves
• Adding on costs which they know are not allowed under civil procedure rules
• Providing false evidence to courts knowing it is unlikely that they will be found out
Is this fair?
Is it fair that a motorist can end up with a CCJ and not be able to get a mortgage, or a job, or even worse - renew their mobile phone - even though they never received a notice to keeper, letter before claim or claim form, because the DVLA held incorrect information?
Is it fair that a motorist is taken to court for not seeing the signs on a site where the operator then suspends self-ticketing operations for poor signage?
Is it fair that an operator deliberately delays paying in a judgment cheque for 8 days in a vindictive attempt to give a motorist a CCJ and then boasts about it?
Is it fair that an operator submits the same photograph as evidence of parking in two different court cases for two different dates and times?
Is it fair that a parking company files false evidence regarding charge levels in hundreds of court cases?
Is it fair that parking companies redact the part of their contract which shows they are acting as an agent in court, and then claim they are acting as principal?
Is it fair that a debt collection company files witness statements in the name of a person who does not exist, possibly in contempt of court?
Is it fair that a motorist is taken to court when the parking company knows they were neither the keeper nor the driver, because the car was stolen or sold?
Is it fair that a motorist is taken to court when they visited the car park twice and the ANPR was faulty?
Is it fair that a motorist is taken to court when the ANPR does not cover all entrances and exits?
Is it fair that a debt collector can tell the court have purchased a debt when in reality they are splitting the winnings with the parking company?
Is it fair that parking companies are taking employees to court as revenge for their contract being cancelled by the landowner?
Is it fair that a solicitor is filing claims when he has been banned by the SRA for acting in that capacity?
It it fair that solicitors are filing claims without doing any due diligence as to whether a valid claim exists?
What is the solution?
Parking cases are now hitting such levels that there should be a specific pre-action protocol for parking cases, requiring the operators to properly state their case and provide information about signage, keeper liability and enforcement rights.
Specialised parking courts could hear cases in bulk, and would have knowlege of the which parking companies file claims with no intention of actually attending hearings.
There should be an independent appeals system run by the government, whose decisions mirror the courts as much as possible. POPLA has suffered because it changes hands every 3 years, while the IAS does not provide a viable alternative.The Prankster would like to say he got a standing ovation, but in practice he probably got as many tumbleweeds as the Lords Hurley and Davies.
The Parking Prankster