ParkingEye V Mr O - Double Dip at Morrisons

Outline

A classic case of ParkingEye pursuing a "double dip" incident all the way to court, and discontinuing at the last minute. The defendant then pursued Morrisons for compensation, and they settled out of court.

Background

Mr O's was sent a claim by ParkingEye for apparently overstaying the maximum time allowed. What actually happened was he entered the car park at around 6:10am in October 2014 to make a withdrawal from the cash machine, only staying for a few minutes before driving to the railway station. He returned to the car park later in the evening, to purchase some groceries, a visit of no more than 20 minutes in total. At no time did he exceed any ‘max stay time’ advertised as ParkingEye claimed.

Ten weeks later in February 2015, ParkingEye sent their standard County Court claim for their parking charge plus the "legal" costs that never seem to be incurred but charge for them anyway. Mr O had ignored the ParkingEye letters and missed the opportunity to get the matter sorted at POPLA. But on the other hand, he knew he hadn't overstayed and was not frightened by the rather odd letters from companies like Debt Recovery Plus that ParkingEye arrange to be sent out.

With the help of BMPA members, Mr O completed all the key paperwork needed at the initial claim stage on time. They knew the Acknowledgement of Service had to be in within 14 days from the date on the claims, with an initial defence within 28 days - so in they both went. This was the opportunity for ParkingEye to read the facts presented and to check these with their own. However it is apparent that the company has no interest in admitting they or their systems fail, but will simply let the court process run on in the expectation of people folding through fear and the lack of familiarly with the court process. The courts are not some sort of ATM Cash Machine but ParkingEye think they are.

In June 2015, the Witness Statement served in preparation for the hearing was sent to the court to highlight the same issue - faulty ANPR system, failure to check facts, aggressive and vexatious use of the court system. ParkingEye not willing to risk paying a solicitor from LPC for a claim they knew to be baseless, sent Mr O a copy of a Notice of Discontinuance from ParkingEye, indicating that they were no longer proceeding with the claim. This was just over a week before the scheduled hearing, and 4 months after they had Mr O's defence.

Since there had been a lot of wasted time and effort dealing with the claim, Mr O wrote to Morrisons asking for compensation based on a liquidated damages, for the losses incurred in defending ParkingEye's claim. He saw it as only fair that given the work he had to do and he also knew Morrisons are well aware of the "double dip" issue but fail to act. A couple of weeks later when there was no reply or even acknowledgement, Mr O moved to the next stage of what is a fairly simple process and followed up with a Letter Before County Claim (LBCC) to Morrisons Company Secretary (CoSec). The CoSec is the most senior legal person in any organisation and claims should be sent there.

Morrisons recognising there had been an issue here and seeing that Mr O was serious offered and paid a reasonable amount towards Mr O's costs.

Key issues

1. At any stage you can get whoever hired them (principal) to cancel so it is important to identify them and get them to intervene.

2. ParkingEye appear to enjoy upsetting people by going to the wire with a court claim. You have to keep to the time scales, the first of which is to Acknowledge Service within 14 days.

3. At any stage you can get whoever hired them (principal) to cancel so it is important to identify them and get them to intervene.

4. Early action is preferable to leaving matters getting to court. The old advice to "ignore" is out of place in England and Wales, though it is still relevant to Scotland and Northern Ireland as their systems are different.

5. If you are out of pocket like Mr O, consider making an initial demand for recompense to whoever hired the parking contractor and if need be issue a formal letter before claim.

6. "Double Dip" is a well known flaw with ANPR that can lead to error rates of 10%.

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