Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder Mark_Blackpool Novitiate

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    Default Police - car wrongly impounded

    Hope you can suggest what course of action we should take - I'm posting on behalf of my brother:

    Four days ago he was stopped and asked to produce documents. He did not have his insurance documents with him and asked if he could produce them at the station.

    However the officer apparently had reason to believe that my brother was driving without insurance. They called his insurer who denied they were supplying any insurance, and the Police then towed and impounded the car.

    My brother has the insurance certificate and is to take it to the police station. However as far as they are concerned they acted correctly and say that the 340 cost of getting the car out of the impound is his problem, and that it only came about as a result of the wrong information given by his insurance company from whom he should claim.

    Are they correct? The best outcome to this would be the car delivered back to him by the Police with a full tank of petrol and an apology.

    He doesn't have the 340 and has been told the car will be scrapped within 28 days if he fails to pay.

    Thanks,
    Mark

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    Has he contacted the insurance company about this?

    All help is merely my opinion only - please seek legal advice if you need to as I am only qualified in SEN law.
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  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder Mark_Blackpool Novitiate

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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    Hi tiglet,

    Yes, they are looking into why they gave the Police the wrong information.

    Mark


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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    I think your brother needs to phone again and ask to speak to a supervisor - advise this is a matter of emergency and he needs it resolving today otherwise he will instigate a formal complaint and involve their regulatory body.

    Which insurer was it?

    All help is merely my opinion only - please seek legal advice if you need to as I am only qualified in SEN law.
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  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder Mark_Blackpool Novitiate

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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    The insurer was Direct Line. I am however getting all of this "second hand" as it involves my brother:

    At this time, my brother can clear the "producer" by simply producing the documents - he has the certificate of insurance.

    The only issue is how to get the Police to pay 340 to the private impound to have them release his car. It is only worth about 600 so he'd be inclined simply to "lose" the car as he cannot pay this sum.

    I am assming a letter to the Police at this point would be a good idea pointing out that they have committed an offence of taking his car without consent and should it be scrapped they will be liable to replace it. But I wanted to check this is indeed the case first.


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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    I would have thought IMO that the insurer would be liable for costs incurred, as they gave the wrong information that led to the car being impounded in the first place...

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  7. #7
    Basic Account Holder Mark_Blackpool Novitiate

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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    I wondered this. The Police have done everything "correctly" however their source of information turned out to be faulty and the chain of events that has set in motion was not really necessary: impounding the car when the driver insists it *is* insured, since the matter can be proven easily enough via the document.

    The choice to hand the car over to a private company was the Police officer/force decision and this wasn't a good idea when the matter was contested. I am wondering why he has to bother producing the insurance document when evidently the Police have already decided it doesn't exist and have already said it "makes no difference".

    I too was wondering who he pursues. His insurance company would seem to have some duty of care in the matter, but then, they did not hand the car over to a private company who can set fees for its retrieval, in any event someone has to pay 340 in the next 24 days to stop it being scrapped.

    If the insurer is liable, then I guess a speedy letter by recorded delivery to them stating the scrapping date so as to focus them might be a good idea.


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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    i had a very similar problem a year ago.

    i was driving the wife's car whose insurance had lapsed without either of our knowledge (yes ok, they DID send a letter) and got pulled thanks to ANPR. i was flabbergasted to say the least but infomed the officer in question that i had fully comp insurance and therefore i was insured to drive the car under my own insurance.

    the officer informed me that this wasnt the case as it would state on my insurance certificate that this only related to a car "not im my immediate household" and he went on to say if this was the case people could buy a porsche and a mini, insure the mini fully comp and drive the porsche 3rd party basically for free.

    how could i argue???

    i was left at the side of the road as my wife's car was driven away.

    i got home, checked my insurance and guess what, it did not say "not im my immediate household". i rang elephant, my insurer and they confirmed that i was insured to drive the car.

    cutting a long story short - 150 quid to get the car out of the pound and a strongly worded letter to the cheif constable who replied saying the officer had "just cause" to impound the car and therefore - tough luck.

    we did exchange letters stating both our positions but to be honest i got bored of the whole thing. 150 quid and a lot of time lost....

    this reply is no help i know but i've been there!

    Leighton


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    Basic Account Holder Mark_Blackpool Novitiate

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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    A thought occurs: can my brother simply put in a claim on the car insuranceicon that the car has been stolen?


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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    It hasn't been stolen, and he knows it, so such a claim would be fraudulent, and most unlikely to resolve the situation.

    As well as telephoning the insurer and speaking with a supervisor or manager, you need to begin the insurer's complaints procedure. This will firstly put everything in writing, secondly it will (eventually) be seen by someone reasonably senior, and thirdly it will enable you to take the matter to the Financial Ombudsmanicon Service all the quicker.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    maybe a grey area, the driver was in the right so maybe it was TWOK. he didnt give the police permission did he. about to go through a similar thing for my brother. brothers are a pain, bet he was younger lol


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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark_Blackpool View Post
    The choice to hand the car over to a private company was the Police officer/force decision and this wasn't a good idea when the matter was contested. I am wondering why he has to bother producing the insurance document when evidently the Police have already decided it doesn't exist and have already said it "makes no difference".
    He still needs to produce, else the police will probably prosecute for failing to provide proof of insurance when asked...that'd just complicate things, and surely it's not that difficult to pop into the police station with his document?

    So, he police are right when they sat it 'makes no difference' - it makes no difference to the whole impounding thing, but it would make a difference as to whether or not charges can be brought for driving without insurance.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    Tbh having an insurance cover document does not necessarily prove you are insured. You get this document at the beginning of your cover but if you was to cancel your insurance or miss a payment then you would still be in possesion of the document but not be insured....this is probably what the police mean when they say it wont make a difference. Also he will still have to produce this to the police either way usually within 7 days.


  14. #14
    Basic Account Holder Mark_Blackpool Novitiate

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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    Hmmm, the plot thickens.

    His insurance company have investigated the matter. They say that they were never contacted by the Police.

    Therefore the course of action would seem to be to sue the Police. Does anyone have any experience with this


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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    I would suggest that the onus is on the Police, in that they should ensure that the information they act upon is correct.
    The Police seem to be getting away with this quite a lot these days, they act on incorrect information then say, its nothing to do with us, take it up with your insurance'.
    They Police have caused your brother a loss of use of his vehicle ,and I would suggest they are laible at law for damges and costs. I would stop telephoning the insurance company and start putting all comments in writing only.
    Personally I would sue the Police, I would hire a car whilst they held mine in the compound and add costs accordingly.
    Before action I would write to the Police pointing out that they may have acted on reasonable suspicion in seizing the vehicle in the first place, but that suspicion has since been proved unfounded and that you hold them personally liable for costs and damages, plus the continuing hire of a replacement vehicle. If nothing else should get their attention the cops hate being sued, especially if it only amounts to a few thousand as that comes from their budget and not from their insurance.

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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    Further to my last post, forget about even mentioning the Police taking the car without consent, they had reasonable suspicion for taking the initial action and that covers them. Also make sure your brother produced his documents within the required time or they will start adding offences as well.

    Please remember our troops, fighting and dying in our name. God protect them.
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark_Blackpool View Post
    Hmmm, the plot thickens.

    His insurance company have investigated the matter. They say that they were never contacted by the Police.

    Therefore the course of action would seem to be to sue the Police. Does anyone have any experience with this
    I can't personally see the police ringing an insurance company to see if someone is insured. They check on the database and if it's not there then the assumption is that it's not insured.

    You first need to find out when his particulars were entered onto the database. If it was after the date the vehicle was impounded then the police would be covered and the insurance company would be liable.

    There is always an assumption made that those in authority 'must be right' when we know they are not, that usually means no one takes it any further.
    If it was on the database on the day it was checked however, then imo the police are liable and follow up action should be started.

    As said above, don't do any more phoning, do it by letter (recorded).

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    Quote Originally Posted by Conniff View Post
    I can't personally see the police ringing an insurance company to see if someone is insured. They check on the database and if it's not there then the assumption is that it's not insured.
    They do tend to during office hours if there is a query. They will also ring the relevant company to check claims of DOC cover.


    The OP needs to prove the insurance company liable if he is to successfully reclaim this money.

    The Police are bullet-proof as they do not need to prove anything - the officer's belief is sufficient grounds to impound.


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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    The Police are bullet-proof as they do not need to prove anything - the officer's belief is sufficient grounds to impound.
    The difference in this instance though is that there is an error on one or the other. The constable says he rang the insurance company and the insurance says they did not, they can't both be right.

    Did that officer ring them directly or call back to control and them ring, if it was the officer, do they have a list of number of all the insurance companies? if the answer is no, then the question is, where did he get the number he says he rang them on.

    The UK is now paying 53 million per day to Brussels - Think what this nation could do with that.

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Police - car wrongly impounded

    I agree with Pat in saying, the officers belief is sufficient to impound. But when that suspicion is found to be wrong then I would argue the Police have no further power to continually impound the vehicle. As I see it, its is obvious a mistake has been made on the information given to the Police, so their power to keep hold of the vehicle has gone. They should not punish the op for a mistake made by the Police or Insurance company, thats why I suggest that whilst the Police continue to hold the vehicle they make themselves liable for damages and costs.

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