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The DVLA should be sued under the Data Protection Act


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I don't think so, interesting. Indeed, if I remember rightly (this is very old stuff for me), the person placing the flyer etc on your windscreen is technically guilty of trespass, as they placed it on your property without your permission.

 

Think about it: If someone were to throw something in your garden, would you be committing an offence if you were to remove it and put it outside instead?

 

I had this many years ago, when some of my guys decided to leaflet the local s/market by placing them on windshields and we got into all kind of trouble from it. As I say, this is a long time ago, so I would have to double-check, but I'm pretty sure that that was what we were told at the time.

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  • 3 months later...
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Ok, back to the original post and the cause of that thread.

 

I answered a few months back a post where someone was asking about his details having been passed on by the DVLA, advising a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office, as I firmly believed it had to be a Data Protection Act breach. Then someone else on here pointed out that the DVLA were actually permitted to do so, and when I checked out the DVLA site, I found the same paragraphs as are quoted above. To say that I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. :shock:

 

I find it incredible that the DVLA can hide behind a catch-all sentence as "reasonable cause" to give out details to all and sundry. People worry about the IR discs gone missing? IMO, this is a hundred times worse, and it happens every day.

 

There is something very wrong when the DVLA are allowed to make money out of passing on our details in such a manner, because it encourages lax behaviour. Does the asker have "reasonable cause" to ask? Wellllll, not sure, but there goes another fee if we say he has, so what the hell... There's targets to be met, you know... and at such a small fee, it needs a lot of them to be really profitable, so...

 

It is VERY scary. :rolleyes:

 

 

I just found this 'gem' published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper that simply confirms the DVLA's apparent insistance in maximizing their 'revenue stream' at the expence of protecting ones private information from being accessed by unscrupulous individuals:

 

 

Death knell sounds for Private Land Parking Firms with landmark ruling

Now political pressure must be applied to the DVLA to stop ALL private firms accessing the DVLA data base.

 

Judge quashes £300 parking fine...because it set out to ‘frighten and intimidate’ driver

By MARTIN DELGADO

Mail on Sunday

22nd March 2008

 

Car park operators could be forced to stop threatening motorists with huge penalty charges after a landmark court ruling.

 

In a decision that will be welcomed by many aggrieved drivers, a judge has ruled that the demands for hundreds of pounds in penalties which a parking company sent to one woman driver were illegal because they were too high.

 

The court was told they were intended to "frighten or intimidate" her rather than compensate the firm for any lost income.

The case is expected to have far-reaching implications for private parking firms.

 

Labour MP Alan Meale, who has campaigned on behalf of motorists, said: "This ruling gives hope that people who have had money taken from them wrongly by parking companies may be able to recover it." And the woman's solicitor, Martin Lee, said: "In future, companies that charge these sorts of sums will have them struck out unless they can prove that they are a proper account of any financial loss."

 

The courts have shown that unfairly high bank charges are a penalty charge and therefore unjustifiable. The same principle applies here. In a ground-breaking decision, the judge quashed a series of £100 demands sent to Victoria Hetherington-Jakeman, who had allegedly left her car at a shopping centre for more than the permitted two hours.

 

She was sued by Excel Parking Services, which is run by a man once acquitted of demanding money with menaces from the owners of clamped cars and who is allowed electronic access to the Government's database of 38million motorists – despite being temporarily barred last year following scores of complaints about its behaviour.

 

Ms Hetherington-Jakeman, 60, was sued for failing to pay three £60 parking tickets which she did not even know she had been given.

Her visits to the Portland Retail Park near her home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, took place between September and November 2006.

But no tickets were left on the windscreen of her Mercedes and she heard nothing from Excel until the following January when she was sent a bill for £300, followed by letters from bailiffs threatening to confiscate her property unless she paid up.

 

Excel had used a fixed camera to record her numberplate as she entered and left the site. It then passed the details to the DVLA, which sent back an email with her name and address.

 

Mr Lee told Mansfield County Court that the levy of £100 per offence was an "unlawful penalty clause" intended to "frighten or intimidate" and therefore unenforceable. This argument was accepted by District Judge Wall, who ruled that the fines did not have to be paid.

 

Last night, Ms Hetherington-Jakeman, who is head of quality control at a printing firm, said she was relieved her 14-month battle was over.

"Excel's behaviour has been absolutely disgraceful throughout. When I tried to contact them – and the only way to do that was on a 50p-a-minute premium-rate phone line – I got no response". They said they couldn't discuss the matter. "They couldn't even get the most basic details right. First, they said my car was black, then silver. It's white". They claimed the initial £60 parking tickets hadn't arrived because of a hold-up at the Royal Mail, though the Post Office said that wasn't true.

"It's been very stressful but at least we have got the judgment we wanted."

 

Excel, which manages a number of hospital, retail and station car parks, is run from an office in Sheffield by Simon Renshaw-Smith, 41, who is also director of a wheel-clamping firm called Captain Clampit Ltd.

In 1993 he was accused at Sheffield magistrates' court of demanding £145 with menaces from two drivers whose cars he had immobilised. Asked last night about the case, Mr Renshaw-Smith said: "The accusations against me were dropped. I was acquitted."

 

Last July, Excel was finally removed from the "approved" list of organisations allowed electronic access to the DVLA's database.

It followed complaints from around the country and the formation of a 100-strong action group in Mansfield made up entirely of motorists who claimed they had been unfairly treated by Excel. The move meant that Excel was forced to apply for personal data by post on a case-by-case basis.

 

Yet the ban was lifted only three months later. A DVLA spokesman said inspectors visited the firm and decided it was using the data "appropriately". !!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

MP Mr Meale said he would demand an explanation of the decision from Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. Martin Bingley, a spokesman for the Mansfield action group, said: "Excel has an appalling reputation for failing to respond to appeals and for insisting they are right and the customer wrong."

 

Excel, which has now lost its contract to run the Portland car park, said it was "disappointed" by the court ruling in Ms Hetherington-Jakeman's favour and was considering an appeal.

 

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I am in receipt of a letter, dated 04Feb2008, from Jim Fitzpatrick (a Transport Minister) - it states:

 

"New measures for companies requesting information from DVLA manually were introduced on 1 November 2006, following the review announced by my predecessor, Dr Ladyman".

"The use of company headed paper has been replaced by the introduction of two new forms - V888/2 and V888/3. All applications must be supported with a business resume that must include information on the company's business practices and details of why they want the information and how it will be used. Car park enforcement companies also have to provide evidence that there is a parking charge scheme in operation and that they are acting on the instruction of the landowner. All forms contain a note that reminds applicants that it is a criminal offence under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act to falsely obtain personal information".

 

"Companies that request and receive data via a secure electronic link do so under strict contractual terms and must first complete a 6-month probationary period making manual requests, during which time their behaviour in the use of the information is monitored. The level and nature of any complaint is taken into account before an electronic link is granted. Before a link is established, the DVLA confirms that a company is a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) relevant to that industry".

 

"To become a member of an ATA, a company must comply with the ATA's Code of Practice (COP) which governs the conduct and business practices of members. Failure to abide by the ATA's Code could result in a company's membership of that ATA being cancelled, resulting in the forfeiting of their entitlement to request and receive DVLA data electroniclly".

 

"DVLA's Internal Audit teams are resposible for visiting external data users and ensuring that information is requested only where appropriate and is used and stored in accordance with their agreement with DVLA and the Data Protection Act. They have a rolling programme of audits, with provision for targeting those who generate a disproportionate number of complaints".

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

You can all make your own minds up here as to what is 'really' going on!

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Template letters, updated to reference the above case are here if anyone wishes to use them:

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/parking-traffic-offences/123409-data-protection-complaints-template.html

********************************************

Nothing in this post constitutes "advice" which I may not, in any event, be qualified to provide.

The only interpretation permitted on this post (or any others I may have made) is that this is what I would personally consider doing in the circumstances discussed. Each and every reader of this post or any other I may have made must take responsibility for forming their own view and making their own decision.

I receive an unwieldy number of private messages. I am happy to respond to messages posted on open forum but am unable to respond to private messages, seeking advice, when the substance of that message should properly be on the open forum.

Many thanks for your assistance and understanding on this.

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  • 4 months later...

A slightly old thread I know but...I thought I had read somewhere that the DVLA were selling data to debt collection companies too? Anyone confirm that?

 

And also I think I read that the DVLA only reject 2% of requests for paid for data - makes a total mockery of the "reasonable cause" sham! They are a govt agency and she be leading the way when it comes to ID protection instead they are one of the worst culprits for allowing ID theft! Bunch of muppets!:-x

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Oh and another thing, is there anything I could do to stop DVLA from selling my personal info to any Tom, Dick or Harry that wants it? Is there some kind of opt out available to keep my data private?

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  • 3 months later...

Write to your local MP - Write to Gordon Brown - Write to David Cameron

 

 

Probably no point in writing to Gordon Brown, it is he who set it up and gave them the authority to carry on in this manner in the first place.

 

With the present financial climate and the borrowing about to take place, he will probably tell them to double the amounts charged to the innocent.

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With the present financial climate and the borrowing about to take place, he will probably tell them to double the amounts charged to the innocent.

 

Funny that - I was just thinking exactly the same thing - lol

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  • 9 months later...

Hi,

 

I am currently being chased by ParkingEye and based on information on this website have written letters to the BPA, the DVLA Customer Servises Manager, the DVLA Vehicles Fee Paying Enquiry Section and the Information Commisioner's Office. My letters to the BPA and DVLA requested copies of agreements signed by ParkingEye. The BPA replied by return of post stating that they "were not empowered to become involved in disputes between you and the car park operator" and stating that "You may not prosecute the operator in the Small Claims Court because you are not persuing an outstanding debt". Seems they got straight to the point there. The Information Commissioner's Office repled stating that my correspondence will be considered by a member of their Customer Service team. The DVLA has not responded. Will the DVLA send the requested documents?

 

The BPS'a reply gave me an idea. I have logged all my time spent researching ParkingEye and PCNs and costs involved, very anal I know. I was planning to invoice ParkingEye using the rate they were charging me, i.e. £80 for 4 minutes (£960 per hour). The total so far is nearly £7k. Payment would be very unlikely so take them through the small claims court & have the company wound up. Any advice on this?

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Charging £960 per hour, no way - bad idea.

 

You will fail, even worse you could end paying their legal costs if you commence proceedings.

If I have been helpful please click on my star and add a comment.

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The difficulty is the system of releasing RK details has worked very well for YEARS, a modest fee and the details are your if you have 'reasobable cause' to know them. I have had to request this 3 times in 20 years - so I can;t say I'm a prolific user of the information. I needed it to track down vehicles that damaged mine, mostly on private land and 'not one for us' when mentioned to the police - this was before 'a civil matter' became the alternative excuse.

 

These parking fims identified a way to make use of this situation, and you have to admire (reluctantly) their identifying this as a way to chase motorists with a revenue plan that allows landowners to have parking control for free, with the motorist being soaked for the running costs + provit.

 

What I would NOT accept, it the wholesale right I have to get this information on my own behalf, and fully legal. If the only complaint is that people don;t want their details divuged to anyone, then I'd be powerless to use the technology to resolve my issues, especially with the police refusing to provide any information because it is 'against the DPA' or whatever.

 

By all means prevent firms using the DVLA database as the source of speculative business schemes, but I'm not prepared to losr a valuable resource on the basis that if they cannot access the data, no civilian can.

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You only have to see how a private company who keep and charge for personal information are treated. Some months ago (forgive me for not being specific) but those who are interested may remember an employment agency kept details of construction workers and handed these details to potential employers of the construction workers. A lot of these details were wrong (anything ring a bell there lol ) and the firm was fined several thousand pounds for breach of the data act.

So how come the information commissioner is taking such a lenient line with the dvla... Government fundraising wouldn't have anything to do with it at all now ! would it ???

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How does the fact that the Employment Firm were not empowered under the act to retain the inforumation for the purposed to which it was being used (as a blacklist). The DVLA hold information of RK's, and anyoneone with reasonable cause, paying the fee can get it.

 

Nothing to do with Government fundraising - as an executibe agency, the DVLA are being made to be as self-financing as possible. We may not like it, but it is not illegal.

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Right, I have read the above with interest as I myself have had cause to email the DVLA and ask the 'Reasonable Cause Question'. The story is as follows.

 

I borrowed my mum's car when she was out of the country on holiday. I parked at a local retail park and got a parking ticket. Knowing a bit about parking (thanks to this forum) I had no intentions of paying it. However I knew that they would contact my mother if I did nothing. So.........I wrote to the company in question saying 'Hi there I was the driver at the time so your beef is with me. Here is my name and address, please take me to court etc....'.

 

Then my mum gets a letter from said company saying she owes them £200 and she calls me in a state. I explain the situation and contact the comany again saying I was the driver, its nothing to do with my mum. Stop bothering her. My mum then gets a further letter from said company saying if you don't cough up (about £300 at this stage) we will take you to court and send in the bailiffs. So at this stage (my mum was going to pay it but I went nuts and said over my rotting flesh) I complained to every man and his cat including of course our good friends the DVLA cc-ing in the PPC. Neither my mother nor I have heard from the PPC since (this was about a year ago). However, the DVLA's response really got my goat - what with the whole 'reasonable cause' twaddle.

 

So can someone please explain to me where the cause was in this request. The PPC had the name of the Driver (they responded to my letter saying 'your appeal is dismissed' I wrote back saying 'it wasn't an appeal - I was telling you the only way you are getting money out of me is via the courts) and therefore had no reason WHATSOEVER to approach the DVLA. The did anyway probably because they thought they had more chance of getting the money from my mum than me.

 

Any thoughts folks?

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Your well-reasoned comment fails to take one thing into consideration - that these private parking firms don't have the staff or intelligence to vary their (fairly successful) business plan for profitability.

 

They simply require addresses of reople they can pursue who will be too afraid to go to court or put up with their constant threats of legal action... and pay up. Being told who was the driver is of no consequence - but the clever ones will pursue both - in the hope that someone pays.

 

This is a self-sustaining scheme, it needs the money from the people who are too scared to challenge to pay for the infrastructure and overheads, as well as the profit margin for the directors.

 

As you saw from your response, you got an inappropriate reply - proving that they do not read correspondence, simply advising that appeals are denied - and pay up or else. Actualy, I'm surprised YOU'RE surprised! The addresses provided in list form by the DVLA are their 'yellow brick road' and until this nonsense is outlawed, it will stay that way.

 

I would like to see self-financing schemes like these prohibited (so that the running cost of the enterprise cannot be funded from the collection of penalties-by-invoice). Meaning, if firms want private parking services, they PAY for it - not the motorist.

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I hear what you are saying Busby, but the main point I was trying to make here is where does the DVLA's 'reasonable cause' excuse fit into this? In this case there was no cause at all so how can they justify this?

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Incompetence is allowed.

 

The 'reasonable caise' is based on the firm having made a formal declaration that their business requires RK details from the DVLA database to pursue errant motorist who park on private land, contrary to whatever the rules were at the time (DVLA are not interested in the minutiae of this, as long as the requestor has a reasonable cause - and as they'll probably be members of the BPA, that's all they'll need.

 

Your Mum's VRM was just one of possibly 100's that day they uploaded for the data to be supplied, and they paid for the priviledge. All this complies with DVLA rules. The fact you wrote or contacted them has no bearing on their business model or with what DVLA requires.

 

In fact, this copies what Council's do - even if you recieve a 'proper' FPN, and appeal to the council, you STILL have to wait the NTO to arrive to the RK's address before a formal appeals process can start. The prospect of circumventing your mum's distress would not be short-circuted in either scenario.

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You are attempting to use logic in your argument - the firm requesting the data does not make applications on an individual basis, and if you complained, they would simply state the vehicle WAS parked on property they manage, and it is their 'policy' to request DVLA data automatically.

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Its a shambles. I have complained to the DVLA and await their response. The BPA weren't interested (quelle suprise) and I don't think the staff at the PPC can read, so no point going there.

 

I am going to register my car to someone else, maybe the CEO of a PPC and see how many PCNs, FPNs private tickets I can get in a week.......:razz:

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And how will you tax it...? Or coke with the fraudulent declaration that the RK is someone that doesn't have any connection with the vehicle? Yes, I know you were joking - but there's a legal way to provide an alternative address that gets RIGHT UP therr nose (DVLA) and they can do nothing to stop it. It costs you £40pa, but takes much of the heat off!

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Right, I have read the above with interest as I myself have had cause to email the DVLA and ask the 'Reasonable Cause Question'. The story is as follows.

 

I borrowed my mum's car when she was out of the country on holiday. I parked at a local retail park and got a parking ticket. Knowing a bit about parking (thanks to this forum) I had no intentions of paying it. However I knew that they would contact my mother if I did nothing. So.........I wrote to the company in question saying 'Hi there I was the driver at the time so your beef is with me. Here is my name and address, please take me to court etc....'.

 

Then my mum gets a letter from said company saying she owes them £200 and she calls me in a state. I explain the situation and contact the comany again saying I was the driver, its nothing to do with my mum. Stop bothering her. My mum then gets a further letter from said company saying if you don't cough up (about £300 at this stage) we will take you to court and send in the bailiffs. So at this stage (my mum was going to pay it but I went nuts and said over my rotting flesh) I complained to every man and his cat including of course our good friends the DVLA cc-ing in the PPC. Neither my mother nor I have heard from the PPC since (this was about a year ago). However, the DVLA's response really got my goat - what with the whole 'reasonable cause' twaddle.

 

So can someone please explain to me where the cause was in this request. The PPC had the name of the Driver (they responded to my letter saying 'your appeal is dismissed' I wrote back saying 'it wasn't an appeal - I was telling you the only way you are getting money out of me is via the courts) and therefore had no reason WHATSOEVER to approach the DVLA. The did anyway probably because they thought they had more chance of getting the money from my mum than me.

 

Any thoughts folks?

 

Nice post Ellie

 

What you have achieved here, is proof of what is obviously the [problem] (and questionable behaviour) of PCCs who 'monitor' 'free to park' retail car parks.

 

It is a wholly automated system whereby they simply send out as many arbitrary demands for disproportionate sums of monies to RKs of vehicles 'caught' as they can, irrespective of who was actually driving (or has allegedly entered into a contract with them, by definition of their business model) - in the hope of receiving some form of payment any which way they can (and don't care who from!).

 

The fact that you openly 'invited' them to pursue their claim with you through the courts but declined, in my view, proves they know they have little chance of success and/or is not a financially viable for them.

 

In summary, IMHO, anyone who receives such an 'invoice' from a PPC for parking in a 'free' car park, should simply ignore their correspondence.

 

 

On the question as to why the DVLA seem undisturbed in releasing RK details to obvious [problematic] so freely, a little history on the The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 might help:

 

 

"In 2000 the British government enacted new laws to manage data and privacy and it what became known as the The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (c. 23)

What followed is now a text-book case for how not to legislate, and proof for mission-creep in privacy law. The act was updated in 2003, at the peak of hype about terrorism, by the then Home Secretary David Blunkett and would have allowed the surveillance of anyone by pretty much every branch of government, right down to the members of the town council.

 

Thankfully his son, an IT consultant, sat his dad down and explained a few things to him. Not for the first time it fell to the younger generation to sit the old folks down and explain things to them. Blunkett cut the number of bodies allowed to conduct surveillance of citizens down to nine.

 

But because the bill was poorly crafted that number grew and now 792 organisations have the right to request details. Isn't that a comforting thought."

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The difficulty is the system of releasing RK details has worked very well for YEARS, a modest fee and the details are your if you have 'reasobable cause' to know them. I have had to request this 3 times in 20 years - so I can;t say I'm a prolific user of the information. I needed it to track down vehicles that damaged mine, mostly on private land and 'not one for us' when mentioned to the police - this was before 'a civil matter' became the alternative excuse.

 

These parking fims identified a way to make use of this situation, and you have to admire (reluctantly) their identifying this as a way to chase motorists with a revenue plan that allows landowners to have parking control for free, with the motorist being soaked for the running costs + provit.

 

What I would NOT accept, it the wholesale right I have to get this information on my own behalf, and fully legal. If the only complaint is that people don;t want their details divuged to anyone, then I'd be powerless to use the technology to resolve my issues, especially with the police refusing to provide any information because it is 'against the DPA' or whatever.

 

By all means prevent firms using the DVLA database as the source of speculative business schemes, but I'm not prepared to losr a valuable resource on the basis that if they cannot access the data, no civilian can.

 

Surely this is evident of the Police refusing to do their duty?

 

Damage to a vehicle is a criminal offence and they are obliged to investigate & peruse for prosecution when it's reported!

 

Or am I missing something?

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Only on public property. If a car 'bumps' into me causing damage, I am given the right to discover who they are, and institute my own mechanism for making them pay for restitution. This is because it is a 'ciil' matter and doesn't take place on hte public road.

 

HOWEVER, in the unusual event that a car runs into the back of me at a roundabout on the public highway, then speeds off - I'm worse off. I can report it to the police, who will then take the details, demanding to see MY licence, Insurance etc although I did nothing wrong - but they might get a twofer out of it. They will look up the details of the alleged vehicle, but they will NOT provide me with the details, citing the DPA as their rewason for not doing so.

 

Now, let us assume the Police or CPS decide there is 'insufficient evidence' and do not proceed. I STILL cannot get these details for the same reasons gicen earlier. This is why the private property situation is being used - it allows a free-for-all. This is why I wish they would set internal limits on requesters, as anyone wanting to know > 100 per week is clearly using it as a revenue [problem].

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And how will you tax it...? Or coke with the fraudulent declaration that the RK is someone that doesn't have any connection with the vehicle? Yes, I know you were joking - but there's a legal way to provide an alternative address that gets RIGHT UP therr nose (DVLA) and they can do nothing to stop it. It costs you £40pa, but takes much of the heat off!

 

Yes of course I was joking and if you are talking about the system i think you are talking about then ihave already done it for my own vehicle.

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Webferret - I invited them to take me to court for 'breach of contract'. If (and its rather a big if in my view), breach of contract coud be established in their favour then the remedy for the breach would surely be the amount of money which the breach of said contract had cost the company in question?

 

It was a free car park, so no financial loss, no financial remedy. :razz:

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Yes of course I was joking and if you are talking about the system i think you are talking about then ihave already done it for my own vehicle.

 

Excellent :)

 

As to your comment to Webferret - a 'free' car park does not = no financial loss. The CP is provided for customers - probaqbly at no charge, however if they could prove you weren't actually their custmer at the time you parked then, if it against the published T&C, they fo not have to prove actual financial loss, only the 'notional' one - and contraqct law will support them if they limit this to a timeframe or or other qualification. Financial constrains on the parking space used - that it was 'free' is no magic card - I'm aware of a number of free car parks that have successfully sued and won.

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