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Parking Eye Private Parking Penalties are ... Penalties

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Parking Eye Private Parking Penalties are ... Penalties

 

In another blow for the Private Parking civil recovery industry, a Manchester County Court judge refused to award £240 claimed by Parking Eye car park management company in respect of two alleged private parking contraventions.

Awarding a mere £15 the judge apparently found that the rest of Parking Eye's claim amounted to an unenforceable penalty as it exceeded any actual losses suffered by the car park owners as a result of the parking infraction.

Parking Eye was also awarded £95 costs which presumably was calculated on the cost of a claim valued at £15 plus the reasonable costs of travel for a single representative.

Unfortunately for Parking Eye, it seems that they may have decided to use this claim as some kind of show-case and had instructed Pannone solicitors who have offices in the Manchester area.
It seems that Pannone turned up mob-handed with four solicitors confident of glory. On the basis of their technical victory, Pannone asked for the costs of travel for their entire team. (Luckily they didn't have far to come and no doubt they all shared the same vehicle.)
The judge refused to award these and agreed with the defendant that he couldn't understand why so many lawyers were needed for a claim worth a paltry £15.

This result may have come as a surprise for Parking Eye and their extensive legal team but the Manchester judge has come up with precisely the reasoning which has been argued on many consumer forums throughout the internet over many years; the Civil Recovery Industry is premised upon the extraction of unenforceable penalties from ordinary members of the public who very often have made some human mistake in the way that so many of us do.

It is a sad fact that Civil Recovery has become an increasingly common feature of our society over recent years. Civil Recovery companies operate as a kind of modern day "bounty hunters" – bringing the Evil to justice, and pocketing the change. Civil Recovery seems to be a growth area in the fields of retail store security, file-sharing and of course car park management. A novel development which has been appearing over the last couple of years has been the use by the TravelLodge hotel chain to pursue their guests for alleged violations of their no smoking policy.

No one doubts that there is a legitimate interest to be served in controlling the use of private car parks or apprehending shoplifters etc, but surely no one can question the principle that explanations should be given, that sanctions should be proportionate and that their should be an element of humanity and understanding in all cases. However, these desirable characteristics appear to be missing in most of the civil recovery cases which I have seen.

The fact is that the civil recovery industry has an extremely poor reputation – to the point of being thought disreputable by some. It is a puzzle as to why companies with household names and decent reputations for quality and customer service should choose to be associated with this "bounty hunting" industry. Even Bob Diamond, CEO of Barclays very recently spoke about the need for his Bank to start practising citizenship, but there seems to be very little hint of this sentiment within the civil recovery industry. One wonders whether civil recovery clients really know what is going on.

Of course, Parking Eye have the option to bring an appeal if they want to - but is this a risk which they are prepared to take?

At the moment they run their legitimate business in a legitimate way. Even though a county court judge has found against the legitimacy of their charges, this decision is not binding on other courts. In theory there would be no particular impropriety if parking management companies generally continued to try and get the biggest chunk of lucre they could, for themselves and for their clients. However if the matter were to be decided against them in, say, the High Court then serious issues would be raised if the industry continued its practices unchanged.

It may be time for the parking industry and for the civil recovery industry as a whole to start asking itself some serious questions.

Parking Eye v Smith – Manchester County Court – discussed variously at: –
http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=3648411&page=2

and: –
http://forums.pepipoo.com/index.php?showtopic=66738&pid=649258&st=0&#entry649258

This piece is based on information contained in the above two threads.

Pannone (pronounced approximately as in Punani.)
http://www.pannone.com/

The Consumer Action Group Transport forums
http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/forumdisplay.php?286-The-Consumer-Forums-Transport


***Also see the latest scandal of Parking Eye's way of doing business****


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Court of Appeal - Parking Eye - "dishonest" - used "police-like" letters, falshoods,  "semi-literate", misrepresented their authority

 

Don't believe me? Well it all came from the Court of Appeal
Apart from the direct issues which the judgment below raises about the unlawful behaviour of Parking Eye, I think that other important issues are raised. 
Firstly, I think that most of the criticisms of Parking Eye can be applied equally to the entire private parking industry. There is no doubt that they all use broadly the same business model. 

Secondly, the abuses committed by the Parking Eye are in flagrant disregard of the so-called self-styled BPA “code of practice” but of course the BPA either does not exercise adequate oversight – or more, we have to ask ourselves, could the BPA be complicit in this behaviour. Complicity has to be considered because the BPA is comprised of executives of many of the parking companies themselves. 

Thirdly, one has to ask whether the BPA has been aware of this case and how long ago and what action they have taken against Parking Eye.Was the BPA made aware of the initial judgment which came from the High Court probably at least 2 years ago?
Were the BPA made aware of this Appeal Court judgment which was made 3 months ago? We have a preliminary comment from the DVLA that they certainly weren't informed of this case or the judgments either in the High Court or in the Court of Appeal.

I am not aware that the BPA has taken any action against Parking Eye or that it has sought to apply any of the principles of contained within the judgment to its other industry members or that it is mounted any review of its Code or that it has sought an audit of compliance with the code. 

Fourthly, operating in breach of one’s own industrial code of practice may be an unfair commercial practice under the Consumer (Protection from Unfair Trading) Regs 2009 (CPUT) and should properly be reported to the Trading Standards and to the OFT for action.
Of course the issue should also be referred to the Information Commissioner.
Finally, the DVLA continues to hand out personal data wholesale on the nod of the BPA. The DVLA implements piecemeal suspensions but frankly, merely “picking off” the occasional company which happens to get caught is not acceptable. The DVLA does not seem to appreciate that the matter of the protection of personal data is a Human Rights issue and that they have a very grave responsibility towards it.
It is about time that the DVLA suspended all data access to all of these companies – and in particular any companies which are apparently operating under the protection of the BPA.

Poor conduct is not a one-off here. We all know that in the last week or so the DVLA has confirmed the suspension of Excel, Roxburghe and Met Parking. This makes about half a dozen suspensions this year alone.
These suspensions do not seem to have occured as a result of vigilance by the BPA. These suspensions seem to have been brought about because of the efforts a few dedicated people on the CAG, in NMAG and in Pepipoo.
However, as I have said, the DVLA's action is piecemeal and is clearly not adequate to address what is clearly a structural problem – apart from the general problem of the legality and morality of the entire industry.
Frankly, the DVLA seems only to react once it is pushed into a corner.


***************************************
Important rider - the Court of Appeal decision was based upon the Parking Eye arrangement as agreed with Somerfields in 2005.

If their agreements are different elsewhere then that could affect the situation.
*************************************************************
Here are a few random comments on the attached judgment:-

Dishonest without intending to be, apparently.

Quote

So of course ParkingEye had an incentive to operate the “fine” system aggressively.


7. This it did – too much so: some of the letters it wrote to motorists contained falsehoods. The first letter was not so held. It perhaps might have been. For it was dressed up rather like police issued document with a chequered edging and described the amount claimed as a “penalty” when it was no more than a contractual obligation to pay.

Quote

serious falsehoods

Sent "semi-literate" letters


No authority to issue proceedings

Quote

It said “ParkingEye will issue proceedings” indicating that ParkingEye had authority to do so. It did not.

No intention to bring legal proceedings at all!!!!!

Quote

In any event neither ParkingEye nor Somerfield actually had any settled intention of issuing legal proceedings if the money was not paid. The contract provided by Schedule 2 that if the registered keeper did not pay after a fourth letter, no further action would be taken but detailed records of non-payers and persistent offenders would be stored. If Somerfield decided to sue ParkingEye was to assist.

Quote

The Judge not only found that the third letter contained falsehoods but that those falsehoods were deliberately made by the relevant ParkingEye executive,

Quote

Hence the Judge found ParkingEye was guilty of the tort of deceit on those occasions when the third letter was sent on its behalf. ParkingEye does not challenge this decision.

See the judgment attached for the whole grisly story.

Of course this Court of Appeal judgment is about Parking Eye but you may find similarities in the way of doing business used by other private parking companies.

Apart from anything else this is more evidence of the slack attitude of the British Parking Association to the behaviour of their own members.
The BPA must be aware of this. What action have they taken against Parking Eye for their breach of the Code of Practice?? If anyone knows, then please let us know.

The BPA is the outfit which pretends to want to set an Independent Appeals Service.

Has Parking Eye's access to the DVLA database been suspended? I don't think so.

If you have paid money to Parking Eye then you have a basis for claiming it back. certainly, if you have paid the so-called "full rate" then you have clearly paid an unenforceable penalty and you should go and get you money back.

Who you should claim it back from - Parking Eye? No get it from the supermarket. That will stir up some fun.
Whichever parking company and whichever car park owner it is - ASDA, Morrisons, B&Q etc - get your money back from them

Please note that the trial judge held that the initial sum was an enforceable charge. The Court of Appeal referred to it but did not consider it and made no finding which approved it .
In other words, don't let Parking Eye or any other parking company tell you that there is binding authority for saying that the initial charge are generally valid. That would be a porky.


***************************************
Important rider - the Court of Appeal decision was based upon the Parking Eye arrangement as agreed with Somerfields in 2005.

If their agreements are different elsewhere then that could affect the situation.
****************************************************

Thanks to user:Tomtubby for discovering this judgment - which you can download hereParkingEye_2013-Q.B.-840_1_1.pdf
Enjoy


****Also see an example of Parking Eye's heavy handed approach here****
In which Parking Eye were the claimant themselves even though it is now clear that they had no authority to be. In fact their claim may have amounted to an abuse of process.


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style="text-align:center;"> Please note that this topic has not had any new posts for the last 448 days.

If you are trying to post a different story then you should start your own new thread. Posting on this thread is likely to mean that you won't get the help and advice that you need.

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