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Morrisons and ParkingEye small claims court notice received today.


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Hi,

 

I'm starting this thread to keep a track of my progress in fighting a small claims court notice I received today.

 

Background:

my local Morrisons handed control of their car park to ParkingEye about 5 years ago as it is a free car park but

 

 

they found local office workers parking there all day - perfectly sensible.

 

 

Unfortunately, this caught out a lot of locals who would go to Morrisons and then a few other shops on the local high street.

 

 

This happened to my wife only a few months after PE took over.

 

 

We recieved a fine in the post from them which I ignored (the advice at the time, about 2009).

 

 

I also ignored the following 3 other letters and finally never heard anything again.

 

In July of this year, my wife got caught again.

 

 

We received the fines in the post again and

 

 

I ignored them, unaware the standard advice on these had changed.

 

 

PE have now referred it to the small claims court and, reading through this and other forums, it looks like it almost certainly will go to court.

 

I have acknowledged the claim on MCOL, e-mailed Morrisons (not expecting much) and also mailed POPLA (but I think I'm too late to get them involved).

 

Any other advice?

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Ok, how long was the free parking allowance and how long were you there for?

Check with your local council planning dept what was written into the planning application/consent regarding parking. Reason for this is many Morrisons sites were Safeway stores and the PP granted allowed 3 or 4 hours free parking and the PE/Morrisons agreement breach the planning consent. At soem store where this has been raised the company has been told in no uncertain terms to change the signs back to reflect what was granted or risk the store being closed for breach of planning.

Next, post up or write out the Particulars of Claim so we can see the wording of their claim. If they mention PE v Beavis and Wardley then you apply to court for an adjournment on the grounds that the case is going through the court of appeal in feb 2015 and the claim and the defence will rely upon the outcome of that appeal. If they dont mention it then the standard defence is to include no "locus standi", no contract formed and no loss to PE by the overstay. More detail available in other posts and on the parking pranksters blogspot and website.

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I would also write to the CE of Morrisons rather than just rely on an email. Explain the situation and say that you believe that the company cannot devolve its obligations to a third party with whom you have no relationship and ask them for proof that they had indeed given away the land without notifying the Land Registry and Valuation Agency. Say that if Morrisons contend that PE are just managing the site or parking theron you would wish to point out that PE then have no rights to form contracts with you and cannot claim anything from you in the courts without their express consent and you would now like then to say whether they are consenting to this and if so can you have a copy of that consent. Also say that of they would wish to decline showing you that consent as being commercially sensitive you will consider seeking a Norwich Pharmacal order as you are clearly being disadvantaged by not being able to see a contract which is binding upon you.

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Thank you both - I'll follow up with the council.

 

The wording of the claim does not mention that case, just:

 

'...for parking on private land in breach of the terms and conditions (the contract). PEs ANPR system...captured vehicle xxxxxxxx entering and leaving the car park, overstaying the max stay time. The signage, clearly displayed at the entrance to and throughout the car park [true but impossible to read from a car], states that this is private land, is managed by PE and is a max stay site, along with other T&Cs by which those who park on site agree to be bound. In accordance with the T&Cs set out in the signage, the parking charge becomes payable. Notice under the Protection of Freedomd Act 2012 has been given under sch 4, making the keeper liable.'

 

(I have abbreviated Parking Eye to PE to save typing :-))

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You will need to photograph the signage and make a note of the size of the signs, the size and colour of the fonts and the position of the sign at the entrance to the car park. It should be readable and understandable from the driver's position in the vehicle.

The phot of the sign can be posted up here and we can pick at it if it is one of the older style ones as they are mostly unenforceable.

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so nothing mentioned "FINE" on any of the paper work!.

 

The wording I posted is from the small claims court paperwork and it does say, at the end, 'this is in relation to parking charge xxxxxx'. Is that significant?

 

As to the signs, I don't think I have anything to complain about - even though I never saw any of the signs until I went to look for them, there are lots of them - however, difficult, if not impossible to read from a car, if that is significant?

 

This is a close-up (sorry, can't seem to make these pics any bigger):

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]53798[/ATTACH]

 

This is at the entrance, on the pillar tot he left:

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]53799[/ATTACH]

 

This is to the right of the entrance, up on the poles:

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]53800[/ATTACH]

 

Waiting on a response from the council and Morrisons....

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so, can you read the small print whislt driving past? You are supposed to take all of this in within the time it takes to pass the sign and agree to it. You are not expected to park up and then spend 15 minutes pondering what it says so to me the signage is not clear. I cant read it on your images so how an I supposed to be able to read it on the LEFT side of the car park entrance.

These are valid points and worth arguing, especially as you didnt see any of the signs so that tells ytou something about how effective they are.

So, part of your defence is that you did not see the signage and the position, size and font of the signage made it impossible for a contract to be formed due to non-consideration or ignorance of the offer.

secondly, you can say that in any case it is not an offer but an invitation to treat as there is nothing to stop anyone from parking and there is no mechanism to allow you to make a counter offer.

lastly it is a free car park owned by anotherand so the amount claimed for breach of contract, should any contract exist, is not PE's loss caused by that breach nor is it a genuine pre-estimate of that loss.

 

No go and read the parking pranksters blogspot and website and pick through the relevant case law and other cited cases. Use the ones as reference that are pertinent and make sure that when you do exchange documents you send copies of not just the case references but the transcript or decision in full to both PE and the court otherwise you will ahve a tough time rasing the points they contain.

Get a letter sent off to PE demanding sight of their contract with the landowner under CPR 31.14 and get on to the Land Registry and see who owns the freehold of the land. If it is not Morrisons then PE's contract should be with whoever holds the deeds or they have no "locus standi" and that means that they have to right to sue anyone. If that is the case then raise that first and preferably by writing to the court to have the claim struck out for PE having no locus standi. It is more likely that you will have to turn up on the day but wont have to say anything as the judge will be telling them to get lost and pay your expenses.

 

Now go back to the signs and measure them and measure the height above ground and the font sizes as well as making note of their exact content if it cant be read on your photo. Again, the parking prankster has good examples of inadequate signage you can quote and say that this is the same.

Remember, these peopl have no rights so dont roll over and say that you think the signage is OK, everything is for them to prove, all you have to do is provide enough information to get the judge to ask the right questions and if they dont you can.

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How do I get transcripts or details from previous cases? Nothing obvious when I search online...

 

How do I best explain why I ignored the initial letters from PE, in case I am asked? I can't think of a good reason...

Edited by nelmo
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Check with the planning department of the local council, when planning permission was granted for that car park, one of the conditions was that people using other shops could use it.

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Check with the planning department of the local council, when planning permission was granted for that car park, one of the conditions may have been that people using other shops could use it freely.

 

Fixed that slightly for you.

Please note that my posts are my opinion only and should not be taken as any kind of legal advice.
In fact, they're probably just waffling and can be quite safely and completely ignored as you wish.

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The Parking Prankster's website has a treasure trove of such transcripts.

 

Using other County court judgements is actually a waste of time and proves nothing. The current thinking is not to do this but use only cases which are persuasive (ie higher then a dJ), as each side simple produces cases they have won and this actually proves nothing.

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Current thinking by whom?

 

The other side are known to assemble bundles of cases that support their arguments, so I don't think it is unhelpful to collect those that illustrate the points of law you're seeking to argue. But it is right of course that none of these is binding.

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Current thinking by whom?

 

The other side are known to assemble bundles of cases that support their arguments, so I don't think it is unhelpful to collect those that illustrate the points of law you're seeking to argue. But it is right of course that none of these is binding.

 

Current thinking by people who prepare a lot of these defences against PE. You have to really differentiate your case from PE vs Beavis/Wardley. The point about the cases is the other side do exactly the same and judges know about previous cases etc now. Thats why transcripts of cases are no longer being purchased. There are more persuasive cases that can be quoted

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Current thinking by people who prepare a lot of these defences against PE. You have to really differentiate your case from PE vs Beavis/Wardley. The point about the cases is the other side do exactly the same and judges know about previous cases etc now. Thats why transcripts of cases are no longer being purchased. There are more persuasive cases that can be quoted

 

I'm sure the OP would value your advice on which cases s/he might include in their bundle. And where they can get them.

 

Personally, I'm not persuaded that District Judges are so familiar with Parking Eye's practices (including selective quoting of other cases) that including transcripts of other cases isn't helpful. But I am sure there are differing opinions on this. I think the guides produced by the Prankster and those on the MSE forum are quite helpful.

 

Good luck to the OP!

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I'm sure the OP would value your advice on which cases s/he might include in their bundle. And where they can get them.

 

Personally, I'm not persuaded that District Judges are so familiar with Parking Eye's practices (including selective quoting of other cases) that including transcripts of other cases isn't helpful. But I am sure there are differing opinions on this. I think the guides produced by the Prankster and those on the MSE forum are quite helpful.

 

Good luck to the OP!

 

 

County Court District Judges decisions do not make case law, it is of no use quoting such cases in defence.

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Fixed that slightly for you.

 

 

The site was used for many years as a car park for the High Street, originally, when Safeway applied for planning permission, it was granted on the condition that other shoppers could use it, they had a manned barrier where you obtained a ticket on entry, and up to a certain time was free. Now a Morrisons, the barrier was removed and up until recently, parking was monitored manually, now it is by camera.

 

 

Which is why the OP needs to check with the planning department if that condition is still in force.

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The site was used for many years as a car park for the High Street, originally, when Safeway applied for planning permission, it was granted on the condition that other shoppers could use it, they had a manned barrier where you obtained a ticket on entry, and up to a certain time was free. Now a Morrisons, the barrier was removed and up until recently, parking was monitored manually, now it is by camera.

 

I found one planning application from 1991 which seems to be when the original site was built (?) but there is no specific condition of who could use the car park.

 

As regards previous cases, I'll just take a list of cases and references with me and just use them if it seems the judge is unaware of the history.

 

Still can't work out where to get transcripts from - any ideas?

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-

I found one planning application from 1991 which seems to be when the original site was built (?) but there is no specific condition of who could use the car park.

 

 

 

I understand that Safeway opened early 1992, so the original planning application would have been some time before that.

 

 

I also understand that Morrisons had to back down after trying to restrict the use of the car park to store hours only - contrary to planning consent.

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As regards previous cases, I'll just take a list of cases and references with me and just use them if it seems the judge is unaware of the history.

 

 

No good taking a list of cases with you if you don't know what they are about, nothing worse than a DJ asking you to provide details of Judgement XXX and you reply "sorry sir but I don't know" - you stand being lambasted for doing so. Even if you do know what the case was about you would have been expected to refer to it in your bundle & provide a copy for both DJ & the other side. Be very wary.

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as said, start off with the parking pranksters web site, not the blogspot, there are plenty of useful cases you can copy and present as evidence.

the principal is that there is a commom application of interpretation by judges, no precedent is set so a DJ in a county court doesnt have to stick to what another judge has decided in another court but it helps give a consistency to the decisions. The judges meet up occasionally and compare notes so there is a consensus on application of case law and interpretation. This means that raising previous cases is not a waste of time but choose what you think is relevant rather than just suppling a list of cases won (like PE like to do) and make sure that you have the copies of the judgements to hand and have sent them to PE and the court as part of your evidence bundle.

Ploodertom make s point, judges dislike people with late papers no-one has read so just oral evidence is better than that but properly organised and relevant texts will persuade a judge that yours is not an isolated event and there is a coparitor IF they choose to use them.

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After I contacted Morrisons with proof thatI had been shopping in their store on the day in question, PE have now sent me a letter offering to drop the claim if I pay them £60 (their costs). I was tempted at first but then realised that I would be paying them £60 for staying 15 minutes beyond an arbitary time limit set by themselves on land they don't own, in a free car park :-x. Not happening.

 

Morrisons have no proof that they gave PE permission to set-up and anyway, found out that the landowner is still Safeway. I've sent them a letter to ask if they were asked for permission...pretty unlikely, I imagine.

 

The planning department of the council have replied to say there is no specific conditions on the car park from the original planning permission.

 

Also, PE have not yet replied to my CPR request for proof of permission. That was recieved by them on Oct 23rd (Royal Mail tracking), so now on the one week deadline.

 

Onwards....

Edited by nelmo
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