Finally got the first draft of the WS finished - I underestimated how much work this would be, so I know there will be things I've missed and stuff still to add, but this is all I have for the moment.
I'm sure it will need much attention and that I will have used many inappropriate phrases, so I'd appreciate any feedback/corrections you can offer...
Claim Number: XXXXXXXXX
In the County Court XXXXXXX
BETWEEN: Vehicle Control Services Ltd (claimant)
Witness Statement of XXXXXXX
1 - I am the Defendant in this claim. I represent myself as a litigant-in-person, with no formal legal training. Everything in the following statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.
2 - In my statement I shall refer to exhibits within the evidence section supplied in this bundle, referring to page and reference numbers where appropriate.
3 - I am the registered keeper of the vehicle in question in this case which is XXXXXXX.
4 - I will say that the Claimant’s case is not valid based on the following:
4.1 - The Claimant (VCS) is aware there was no legal contract between themselves and the Defendant which suggests their Witness Statement is tantamount to perjury.
4.2 - The roads in Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) are covered by local byelaws which supersede any contract between the Claimant and the airport.
4.3 - The Notice to Keeper (NTK) sent to the Defendant is non-compliant.
4.4 - As I was NOT the driver of the vehicle, I maintain my contact details were obtained illegally from the DVLA as the Claimant relied on the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 to obtain them which does not apply in this case.
4.5 - The Claimant has failed to justify their costs in this matter and is attempting double recovery.
5 - Sequence of events:
5.1 - As the Defendant was not the driver of the vehicle on the day of the alleged infringement (16/01/2018), he is unable to provide a sequence of events for that date.
5.2 - The Defendant received a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) Notice to Keeper (NTK) via post, dated 19/01/2018. The PCN states: Contravention Reason: “46) STOPPING IN A ZONE WHERE STOPPING IS PROHIBITED” Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Liverpool, L24 1YD.
5.3 - Following several months of intimidating letters from the Claimant, and their original legal team (BW Legal), including mention of additional costs, debt collection, court proceedings, CCJs and potential effects on my employment, contact from the claimant ceased after the Defendant sent them a letter, dated 30/05/2018, outlining my reasons for declining to pay.
5.4 - Almost 4 years after the date of the alleged incident, I began to receive correspondence from the claimant’s latest legal representatives (ELMS Legal Ltd) and on 04/11/2021, the Defendant received the county court claim form that we are dealing with today.
5.5 - The Defendant subsequently received a letter from the Claimant, dated 14/12/2021, stating that ELMS Legal Ltd were no longer acting on their behalf and they would be representing themselves.
6 - The Contract:
In the Claimants witness statement, at point 13 they state “The Defendant became liable for the parking charge as the vehicle to which they are responsible for was found in breach of the Contract. The evidence adduced to this statement identifies that the vehicle was stopping in a zone where stopping is prohibited”
It is contended that no Legal contract existed between the Claimant and the Defendant at the time of this incidence and that the Claimant knows this is the case despite what they have said in their witness statement.
6.1 - In the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Chamber, Court of Appeal (Appeal number: FTC 51/2011) in Vehicle Control Service (the Claimant) v’s HMRC, Judges’ Berner and Aleksander said “39. We find that there was no contract between VCS and the motorist. Any contract requires there to be an offer and acceptance.” The court also stated “40. On the facts of this case we do not consider that any offer was made by VCS that was capable of forming the basis for a contract between it and the motorist. VCS was not in a position, by virtue of its limited licence, to make any offer of a right to park. The ability to offer such a right was not conferred by the contract with the client, either expressly or by virtue of the nature of the interest in the car park conferred on VCS. That interest did not amount to a licence to occupy, or give VCS any right to possession. It merely conferred a right of entry to perform VCS’s obligations under the contract.” The Lord Justices continued “41. The warning signs erected in the car park do not assist VCS in these circumstances. The reference in those signs to the fact that the motorist is entering into a contractual agreement cannot create a contract where there is no relevant offer from VCS that can be accepted.”
6.2 - It is clear from the above that the Appeal Court is saying that any contract is between the landowner and the Claimant, and not between the Claimant and the Defendant. It is the landowner that is allowing the motorist on to their land, not the Claimant. So, there is no contractual relationship between the Claimant and the Defendant.
6.3 - The Defendant maintains the Claimant is fully aware of the implications of the above judgement and suggests, if that is the case, the Statement of Truth in their Witness Statement is tantamount to perjury.
6.4 - According to https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/46/section/44 for a contract to be valid it requires a director from each company to sign and two independent witnesses must confirm those signatures. The fact that no witness signatures are present means the deed has not been validly executed. Therefore, there can be no contract established between the Claimant and the Defendant.
6.5 - The contract was struck on 25th July 2013 for a fixed period of 24 months from 08/07/2013 meaning the contract expired almost 7 years ago. Therefore, there can be no contract established between the Claimant and the Defendant as there was no valid contract between the Claimant and the Airport at the time of the alleged contravention.
6.6 - There is no mention in the contract of ‘No Stopping’ being a contravention that a PCN can be issued for. Therefore, even if the court accepts that there was a valid contract in existence, the Claimant was not granted power by the landowner to issue a PCN for this contravention. Furthermore, ‘No Stopping’ is prohibitive and therefore cannot form the basis of a contract.
6.7 - Point 3.2 of contract with LJLA stipulates that the Claimant “shall provide line markings and re-line markings for the various sites”. Therefore, I put the Claimant to strict proof that the road lines where the Defendant’s vehicle was photographed were lines laid down by the City Council rather than lines laid down by the Claimant that have no legal significance.
7 - Airport Byelaws:
According to the Claimants Witness Statement, “the defendant’s vehicle was identified stopped on the access road in Liverpool John Lennon Airport”.
7.1 - The Claimant states that the vehicle was stopped on the "access road" to the airport. Given that there are four access roads into the airport, depending on where a motorist is arriving from, ‘access road’ is extremely vague. So vague as to be without merit and the case be thrown out. You would have thought the Claimant would know, and therefore specify, the name of said access road.
7.2 - In any event, an access road would surely be of such significance that it would be under statutory control and subject to Road Traffic Act 1988 and/or airport byelaws rather than a private parking company.
7.3 - The Defendant puts the Claimant to strict proof that the road in question is not under statutory control.
8 - Notice to Keeper/PoFA
In Point 18 of their Witness Statement the Claimant stated their reliance upon Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act (PoFA) to “hold the Defendant liable for the Parking Charge under the said enactment”.
8.1 - Schedule 4 of PoFA allows recovery of unpaid parking charges from the keeper of a vehicle but the first paragraph 1 (1) (a) states that it only applies “in respect of parking of the vehicle on relevant land:”. The PoFA definition of “relevant land” is given in paragraph 3 (1) where subsection (c) excludes “any land … on which the parking of a vehicle is subject to statutory control”. The Claimant hasn’t stated which access road the alleged contravention took place on, but all four access roads at LJLA are subject to statutory control in respect of being covered by the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA), by virtue of Section 192(1) and it being a road “to which the public has access”.
8.2 - Paragraph 8 (2) states that for an NTK to be relied upon, the notice must - (a) “specify the vehicle, the relevant land on which it was parked and the period of parking to which the notice relates;”. As the Claimant hasn’t stated which access road the alleged contravention took place on, the NTK has failed to satisfy the requirements of PoFA in this respect.
8.3 - The access roads are also subject to the Liverpool John Lennon Airport Byelaws 17/06/1982. Therefore, schedule 4 of PoFA does not apply, and the Claimant is unable to hold the keeper of the vehicle liable for any charges.
8.4 - Throughout their Witness Statement the Claimant uses the term ‘Parking’, on numerous occasions when referring to their actions at LJLA. The original NTK gives the contravention as ‘Stopping in a zone where stopping is prohibited’. I submit that the Claimant is deliberately conflating parking and stopping in order to confuse the court. No Stopping is different from Parking as… NEED REFERENCE FOR THIS
8.5 - Despite knowing their case cannot rely on PoFA to recover any costs, the Defendant maintains that the Claimant has deliberately misused the PoFA legislation to obtain his details from the DVLA.
9. - Double Recovery
9.1 - The Claimant's Particulars of Claim include £50 legal costs, yet in a letter I received on XXXXX the Claimant states that they are not represented by solicitors but are representing themselves"
9.2 - As well as £50 legal costs, The Claimant seeks recovery of the original £100 parking charge plus an additional £60. No further justification or breakdown has been provided as required under Civil Procedure Rule 16.4.
9.3 - PoFA Schedule 4, paragraph 4 (5) states that “The maximum sum which may be recovered from the keeper is the amount specified in the notice to keeper” which in this case is £100.
9.4 - Unless the Claimant can clearly demonstrate how these alleged additional costs have been incurred this would appear to be an attempt at double recovery.
9.5 - Previous parking charge cases have found that the parking charge itself is at a level to include the costs of recovery i.e.: Parking Eye Ltd vs Beavis (2015) UKSC 67 which is the authority for recovery of the parking charge itself and no more, since that sum (£85) was held to already incorporate the costs of an automated private parking business model and the Supreme Court Judges held that a parking firm not in possession cannot plead any part of their case in damages. It is indisputable that an alleged “parking charge” penalty is a sum which the Supreme Court found is already inflated to more than comfortably cover all costs. The case provides a finding of fact by way of precedent, that the £85 (or up to a Trade Body ceiling of £100 depending on the parking firm) cover the costs of the letters.
Since 2019, many County Courts have considered claims in excess of £100 to be an abuse of process leading to them being struck out ab initio. An example, in the Caernarfon Court in VCS v Davies, case No. FTQZ4W28 on 4th September 2019, District Judge Jones-Evans stated ''Upon it being recorded that District Judge Jones-Evans has over a very significant period of time warned advocates [...] in many cases of this nature before this court that their claim for £60 is unenforceable in law and is an abuse of process and is nothing more than a poor attempt to go behind the decision of the Supreme Court v Beavis which inter alia decided that a figure of £160 as a global sum claimed in this case would be a penalty and not a genuine pre-estimate of loss and therefore unenforceable in law and if the practice continued, he would treat all cases as a claim for £160 and therefore a penalty and unenforceable in law it is hereby declared [...] the claim is struck out and declared to be wholly without merit and an abuse of process.''
9.6 - In Claim numbers F0DP806M and F0DP201T, Britannia vs Crosby the courts went further in a landmark judgement in November 2019 which followed several parking charge claims being struck out in the area overseen by His Honour Judge Iain Hamilton-Douglas Hughes GC, the Designated Civil Judge for Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight & Wiltshire. District Judge Taylor echoed earlier General Judgment or Orders of District Judge Grand, stating ''It is ordered that the claim is struck out as an abuse of process.
The claim contains a substantial charge additional to the parking charge which it is alleged the Defendant contracted to pay. This additional charge is not recoverable under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, Schedule 4 nor with reference to the judgment in ParkingEye v Beavis. It is an abuse of process from the Claimant to issue a knowingly inflated claim for an additional sum which it is not entitled to recover. This order has been made by the court of its own initiative without a hearing pursuant to CPR Rule 3.3(4) of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998...''
9.7 - The addition of costs not previously specified on signage are also in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, Schedule 2, specifically paras 6, 10 and 14.
9.8 - It is the Defendant’s position that the Claimant in this case has knowingly submitted inflated costs and thus the entire claim should be similarly struck out in accordance with Civil Procedure Rule 3.3(4)
9.9 - The Defendant is of the view that the Claimant knew, or should have known, that to claim in excess of £100 for a parking charge on private lands is disallowed under the CPRs, the Beavis case, the PoFA and the CRA 2015, and that relief from sanctions should be refused.
I invite the Court to dismiss this Claim in its entirety.
I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.