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  1. From MSE. In the: High Wycombe County Court Before: District Judge Jones Claim No.: 3QT60598 Claimant: ParkingEye Ltd – represented by Mr Matthews of LPC Law Defendant: Mrs Victoria Gardam – represented by myself Date: 14 November 2013 The defendant was being pursued as the registered keeper. Another driver had parked the car at EuroGarages / Starbucks, Bath Road, Heathrow, on 11/10/2012 and stayed for 1h 48m when the signage said 1h 30m maximum. All correspondence had been ignored , up until when the claim was issued. We went into a side room for the hearing, established who everyone was, and DJ Jones started by saying that the first point she wished to address was the issue of the breach of planning regulations. The planning permission for the site states “a maximum of two hours”, and she felt that PE were not in breach of that by reducing it to 1.5. If it had said a minimum of two hours, they would have been. She asked why the Defendant had not responded to any of the Claimant’s letters, or appealed to POPLA. I explained that based on the prevailing advice at that time, the best course of action was to ignore, as PPCs hardly ever took anyone to court. That advice has now changed. She mentioned that her own son had a private ticket, which he was planning to ignore, and she had advised him to pay. I said don’t do either of those, get a POPLA appeal code and check the forums for how to win – I snuck in the fact that PE always lose when the appeal puts them to show genuine pre-estimate of loss. She thanked me for that information! Next, we moved on to the question of whether the charge could be considered a penalty, or at least not a genuine pre-estimate of loss. Mr Matthews pointed to PE’s “commercial justification” arguments in their witness statement, which I countered by saying these were High Court cases between parties of equal standing, and therefore not applicable. The Judge said she wasn’t too sure about that, the law was the law and applied to individuals as well as rich corporations. She also looked at their quote from Combined Parking Solutions v Dorrington, saying that she wasn’t familiar with the case, but it looked as if the claim had been brought on a different basis. I explained to her that CPS base their charges on agreed contractual terms, rather than breach of contract, so that case didn’t help the claimant at all. It then moved on to the BPA Code of Practice (19.5) which says that charges must be a genuine pre-estimate of loss, and if it’s more than £100, operators must be able to justify the charge in advance. She interpreted this as meaning that the DfT had indirectly approved the figure of £100, so a detailed breakdown of loss would not be necessary. It wasn’t looking too hopeful at this point, but then I referred her to the recent PE v Sharma case at Brentford, and handed her a copy of the Judgment. She knew DJ Jenkins personally (he is the secretary of the Judges’ Association), and said that his ruling looked persuasive. Mr Matthews chipped in with a copy of the landowner contract with EuroGarages, which the Judge scrutinised thoroughly, but said that there was no explicit granting of rights by the landowner to the agent, and therefore she concurred with Jenkins’ view that PE had no standing to bring the claim in their own name. She announced that, because of this, the Claim stood dismissed. I asked for defendant’s costs, which she said would be capped at £90. Mr Matthews objected, saying that had the defendant used POPLA, she could have avoided a hearing. I countered that by saying that the Claimant would have been aware of the decision in the Brentford case relating to the same site, and could have discontinued the claim because of that. Claim dismissed. Costs of £90 awarded to Defendant. Bosh!
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