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OPC (Observices Parking Consultacy)


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I parked in a private car park in london in December 2007 and got back to the car slightly after the expiry of my parking icket. I received a penalty fine which i objected to on the grounds of it being disproportionate and sent a letter saying as much, enclosing a cheque for £5 (considerably more than the excess time i had left the car in the car park without a valid ticket. I used a template letter i found on the web to reject the charges as being disproportionate (similar to the bank charges fiasco).

 

This cheque was returned to me and i had a year of increasingly threatening letters from OPC and then Windsor Smythe & partners, which following advice found on the net i ignored. I now find i have a claim against me lodged at Northampton county court for £234.75.

 

Can anyone give me advice on how to proceed? Do i really have to pay over £200 for being 15mins late back to my car?

 

It seems disproportionate and i haven't liked the whole tone and approach of this company, which has been dishonest and mercenary from the outset. I want to fight them. What should i do?

 

Many many thanks for any advice available.

 

Cheers

 

phil

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Are you sure real papers have been lodged with the court and you haven't just got a "if you don't pay now we'll lodge papers that look like these pretend ones at a court somewhere"? Seems co-incidental that they have used Notts County Court, just like councils would use the TEC at Notts County Court.

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When were the court papers filed ? have you checked with the court that the papers are real ? is Northhampton your local court ? have you filed a defense ? if so when ?

have you checked who the landowner of the car park is ?

 

lots of other question but as we have seen none of the paperwork they rest must remain moot for now.

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Hi Crem,

 

Thanks for taking time to look at my post. Unfortunately it is real enough, i was away on holiday when this arrived (dated 17/3/09) and only just managed to get on to the court's website in time to compltete the acknolwledgement of service to buy me another 14 days within which to submit my defence. Do i have one?!

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Thanks Lamma, your time much appreciated.

 

When were the court papers filed ? 17/3/09.

 

have you checked with the court that the papers are real ? Yes my claim number and password were valid when going onto the county court website.

 

is Northhampton your local court ? No northhampton isn't, the "offence" was on city road N1 just north of the city of london. I live in south london SW2

 

have you filed a defense ? Not yet pending your kind advice.

 

if so when ? I have another 14 days

 

have you checked who the landowner of the car park is ?

It doesn't exist anymore - like many in london it was temporary, probably pending planning permission or funding arrangements for new developments.

 

lots of other question but as we have seen none of the paperwork they rest must remain moot for now.

 

Many thanks again

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Sadly i am woefully under prepared.

 

No photo's of site/signs - i don't know who landowner is and suspect it may have changed hands since then, but will try to get hold of the info tomorrow.

 

No Northants not local court.

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interesting responses - especially about the landowner. although the cap aprk doesnlt exist the landowner at the time probably still does.

14 days plenty of time. You have copies of ALL documents including copies of any and all letters you sent the PPC ?

 

land registry for owner details - you will have to pay for them - but only a small amount.

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You have copies of ALL documents including copies of any and all letters you sent the PPC ?

 

Again i fear not. The last threatening letter was from the very bogus sounding Windsor - Smythe & partners at least 6 months ago, and i'm concerned that stupidly I no longer have the original correspondence, nor stupidly the copy i had kept of my reply. Very foolish i'm aware.

 

I only ever corresponded with them once, which was to state that i felt their charges for overstaying my welcome were excessive, and using a form of text i took from the net, which i believe was as follows :

 

"Please also find enclosed a cheque for £5 to cover the cost of compensation for the breach of contract with yourselves.

I refer to the following points of contract law (see below) that deem the charge of £50 rising to £100 as a penalty and as such unenforceable by law. My car was parked for 30minutes longer than I had paid for I therefore enclose £5 that will more than cover the cost of the losses you would have incurred.

Wilson v. Love (1896)

 

A tenant farmer agreed to pay an additional rent of £3 per ton by way of penalty for every ton of hay or straw that he sold off the premises during the last 12 months of the tenancy. The clause was regarded as a penalty because at the time hay was worth five shillings a ton more than straw.

 

Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Co. Ltd. v. New Garage and Motor Co. Ltd. (1915)

 

In the particular case, the judges held that the sum specified in the contract was reasonable and was classified as liquidated damages. However, in this case, Lord Dunedin laid down rules which are still applied today in these types of cases:

 

i) The sum is a penalty if it is greater than the greatest loss which could be suffered from the breach – in other words, if it is "extravagant and unconscionable".

 

ii) If it agreed that a larger sum shall be payable in default of paying a smaller sum, this is a penalty.

 

Ford Motor Co. v. Armstrong (1915)

 

In this case, the judges reached the conclusion that the sum to be paid for a breach of the contract was substantial and arbitrary and bore no relation to the potential loss of the other party. It was, therefore, a penalty.

 

Bridge v. Campbell Discount Co. Ltd. (1962)

 

In this case a customer bought a car under a hire purchase agreement. He paid the initial and first payments and then cancelled the agreement. The company tried to recover the sums specified in the contract for canceling the agreement, but the courts held that the sums payable were excessive and constituted a penalty clause. It was, therefore, unenforceable.

Murray v. Leisureplay (2004)

 

Mr Murray was sacked by Leisureplay and he claimed three years' salary as per his contract of employment. The courts decided that this clause was a penalty clause and he was not entitled to this level of damages.

 

 

I trust that this payment will be taken as compensation and request you notify when this has been done

I look forward to hearing your response

Yours sincerely"

 

I will double check when i get home to see if i might have their response, which rejected my legal basis and which i ignored, based on advice i received on the net over a year ago.

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This company has past form with sending out unstamped court papers from Northampton.

 

have you checked with the court that the papers are real ? Yes my claim number and password were valid when going onto the county court website.

 

I'd ring and *speak* to the court tomorrow.

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If you were able to file your AoS using MCOL, then it is genuine.

 

Northampton is a bulk clearing centre and where all electronic claims originate from. It will be transferred to your local court once defended.

 

They may have picked yours as you have to all intents and purposes admitted liability, with the quantum disputed.

 

Do OPC have solicitors acting for them and can you post up a PDF of the particulars of claim please (with personal details removed)?

 

This will be interesting, they are clearly attempting to make a point here, as some PPCs do occasionally.

 

Draft up a defence and post it here.

Edited by GuidoT
Typo

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

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Was the original 'fine' sent to you labelled as a 'fine' or an invoice? ie, did it have an ominous title like: 'Parking Fine' or similar?

 

This is purely my understanding and I am sure someone more knowledgable (hopefully poilte though) will correct if I am wrong, but only official parking attendents and police types including traffic wardens can issue a 'parking fine'. As this is private property it sounds like you have an invoice and reading by previous similar posts it would suggest you don't have to pay.

 

However, by the fact that you have accepted liability by writing to them confirming your 'breach of contract' I would suggest that letter may prove your undoing.

 

Out of interest, how later were you acording to them? What signage was there in this private car park. What were the terms at the time?

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Was the original 'fine' sent to you labelled as a 'fine' or an invoice? ie, did it have an ominous title like: 'Parking Fine' or similar?

 

This is purely my understanding and I am sure someone more knowledgable (hopefully poilte though) will correct if I am wrong, but only official parking attendents and police types including traffic wardens can issue a 'parking fine'. As this is private property it sounds like you have an invoice and reading by previous similar posts it would suggest you don't have to pay.

 

However, by the fact that you have accepted liability by writing to them confirming your 'breach of contract' I would suggest that letter may prove your undoing.

 

Out of interest, how later were you acording to them? What signage was there in this private car park. What were the terms at the time?

 

This has gone well beyond that stage. He has now received what appears to be genuine court documentation and therefore needs a proper defence.

 

The OP may have admitted liability, but in this instance it is likely to work in his favour. By presenting the parking company with a cheque for reasonable pre-estimate of their loses which they returned, he can at least go to the judge and present an arguement that he has made every attempt to settle the dispute in an ammicable manner, and that by claiming loses well in excess what they were entitled, which could be reasonably construed as a penalty, their action is vexatious.

Edited by RichardM
To remove the (bleeping) pop-up's

MBNA - Agreed to refund £970 in full without conditions. Cheque received Sat 5th Aug.:D

Lloyds - Settled for an undisclosed sum.:D

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agreed. this one isn't a fait acomplis - and there are other considerations.

 

It is a good illustration of why the approach of never contacting the PPC and keeping all their paperwork is a good one in my opinion.

 

In this case we are beyond that but its not 'over' by any means.

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Are we going to get together and organise some sort of defence for this person?

 

TFT

09/07/09 :)Business Studies BA(Hons) 2:1:)

 

eCar Insurance overpayment - £325

Settled in full - 15/09/08

NatWest Student A/C bank charges - £260

Settled under hardship scheme - 08/06/09

Natwest Business A/C bank charges - £60

Settled in full as GOGW - 20/04/09

Santander Consumer Finance late payment fees - £60

Part settled for £48 - 01/03/08

Peugeot Finance late payment fees - £50

Settled in full before county court hearing - 01/09/09

Peugeot Finance overpayment of £247

Settled in full - 01/12/08

Valley Leisure - complaint about collections agent

£160 part refund of gym membership in compensation - 01/02/09

HFC Bank - complaint about payment deducted from my account on wrong date

GOGW £10 - 01/05/09

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It would be good if an expert who could help freedom_phil by PM. I would myself; however, I feel there are others here with considerably greater knowledge on defending a PPC claim in court. My personal opinion is that the sending of a cheque may work to advantage; however, it is a shame that liability was admitted. It is a sad illustration of an individual trying to resolve a matter in a perfectly reasonable way and getting no where.

 

P.S. good choice of name freedom_phil ;)

 

TFT

09/07/09 :)Business Studies BA(Hons) 2:1:)

 

eCar Insurance overpayment - £325

Settled in full - 15/09/08

NatWest Student A/C bank charges - £260

Settled under hardship scheme - 08/06/09

Natwest Business A/C bank charges - £60

Settled in full as GOGW - 20/04/09

Santander Consumer Finance late payment fees - £60

Part settled for £48 - 01/03/08

Peugeot Finance late payment fees - £50

Settled in full before county court hearing - 01/09/09

Peugeot Finance overpayment of £247

Settled in full - 01/12/08

Valley Leisure - complaint about collections agent

£160 part refund of gym membership in compensation - 01/02/09

HFC Bank - complaint about payment deducted from my account on wrong date

GOGW £10 - 01/05/09

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Any updates freedom_phil?

 

TFT

09/07/09 :)Business Studies BA(Hons) 2:1:)

 

eCar Insurance overpayment - £325

Settled in full - 15/09/08

NatWest Student A/C bank charges - £260

Settled under hardship scheme - 08/06/09

Natwest Business A/C bank charges - £60

Settled in full as GOGW - 20/04/09

Santander Consumer Finance late payment fees - £60

Part settled for £48 - 01/03/08

Peugeot Finance late payment fees - £50

Settled in full before county court hearing - 01/09/09

Peugeot Finance overpayment of £247

Settled in full - 01/12/08

Valley Leisure - complaint about collections agent

£160 part refund of gym membership in compensation - 01/02/09

HFC Bank - complaint about payment deducted from my account on wrong date

GOGW £10 - 01/05/09

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