Case no. C9QZ961K, Mrs B v London & South Eastern Railway, Tunbridge Wells CC, before DDJ Omoregie 15/08/2016.
This was a claim brought by a keeper who received a notice from ‘PCN Debt Recovery & Prosecution Service’ (a trading style of L&SER), and paid the £90 charge as the letter looked sufficiently official and threatening.
Bargepole assisted the claimant to prepare documents and as lay representative.
The Claimant’s case was based on three main points:
1/ The letter said that she was contractually liable (Meteor issued the original windscreen PCN) even if she wasn’t the driver (which she wasn’t). This could not be true, because the car park is subject to bye-laws, as stated in the defendant’s defence, and is therefore not relevant land.
2/ The letter stated that if she didn’t pay, she could be summonsed to the Magistrates Court. This is also untrue, because the notices at the station made no mention of penalties under bye-laws, which in themselves are so vaguely drafted – they talk about the ‘owner’ who ‘may’ be prosecuted – that they provide no certainty. There was also Freedom Of Information evidence that out of 12,000 Notice To Keepers issued, there had been zero prosecutions brought to court.
3/ These misleading statements contravened several Consumer regulations, and therefore she was entitled to reclaim the money.
The previous week, L&SER, having failed to file a court bundle, made a settlement offer of £115. This didn’t include the hearing fee, which was already paid and now too late to recover. A reply was sent, stating that they would need to increase their offer to include the hearing fee and a contribution to Claimant’s costs, to which there was no response.
The Claimants turned up on time, and there was no appearance from L&SER. However the DDJ didn’t want to just award the claim at that point; he asked Bargepole to make the Claimant’s case, and said he might put questions based on their defence. Bargepole went through the main points as above, and it was clear this Judge had never heard of s4 of POFA before, so Bargepole had to take him through it. Ultimately the DDJ he didn’t seem to think it relevant; all he was interested in was what the sign said in relation to byelaws and penalties.
He eventually awarded the claim, on the basis that the defence had failed to prove that the signage properly set out penalties under byelaw 14.4.1.
He didn’t award exemplary damages, as this should have been included as part of the original claim. He also didn’t agree that L&SER had behaved unreasonably, because they had made an attempt to settle.
Other motorists who have paid up to London & South Eastern Railway may now have a valid claim to recoup their parking charges.
As London & South Eastern Railway appear to have misused their personal data, they may also have an extra claim. The case of Vidal Hall v Google Inc  EWHC 13 (QB) establishes that misuse of personal data is a tort, and that damages are not limited to costs incurred. A claim for £250 for will cost a £25 filing charge.
Motorists may also have similar valid claims against Meteor parking for misuse of their personal data.
The Parking Prankster