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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10400
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I am in dispute with a private car parking company having a

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I am in dispute with a private car parking company for not having a valid ticket.
My contention is that i attempted to pay by phone when i parked my vehicle, ringing the number displayed, inputting bank card details and talking to an operative. At the conclusion of this call i assumed i had paid, particularly when the car park employee asked if i wanted a text reminder when my ticket was nearly up.
When i got the first letter demanding 6 x the amount of the ticket i wrote explaining what had happened and offered to pay the £8 i thought i had already paid, but felt that as there had been a misunderstanding and the person i spoke to had not told me i needed to take further action, it was not appropriate that i be penalised.
My letters (two) have gone unanswered by the company until i had a letter from their solicitor telling me they intended taking legal action. I have sent my mitigation to the court, outlining my actions and that i had not been offered the right to appeal and have now received a letter from the car parks solicitor. This asks me to allow the case to proceed without attendance and informing me that they do not intend going to mediation as so far as they are concerned it is a straight forward case.
I admit technically i did not purchase the ticket, but left the car park under the misconception that i had. I believe the fact that their operative on the phone did not explain that i needed to take further action makes them culpable for the misunderstanding.
My question is i am best to demand mediation, attend court in person, rely on the court reading my evidence, or attempting to settle before i fight a doomed case and face court costs?

How much are they now asking for?

Have they actually issued legal proceedings against you or just instructed their solicitors to chase you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They have issued proceedings that including £50 solicitors fees and court fees will leave me liable for £300. They have now written to me asking me to waive appearance in court and accept that there is no option to enter into any mediation.The sign did state that if you do not display a ticket there is a £60 charge, which jumped to £150 whilst i vainly awaited a response to my initial attempt at dialogue with SIP.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
To clarify, they want me to waive my chance to appear in person in the county court, where i could draw attention to my actions on the day and subsequently. Presumably if i attend court the risk of additional costs against me increases further as well?

These issues have already been decided in court as to what amount is reasonable. £85 has deemed to be reasonable £150 would not be and hence, it’s unlikely they could enforce that amount.

I’m surprised that they are going to court because they are going to recover £300 and for a day in court, it is not financially viable.

That is probably why they have asked you to waive your appearance in court and simply pay up. They are calling your bluff.

If you attend court, it’s Small Claims Court and costs are not usually awarded in the Small Claims Court against the loser, in favour of the winner, unless the conduct has been completely unreasonable. That does not apply here.

I think you have a defence which would be worth trying in court. That defence is that you rang the number displayed put the card details in spoke to someone and had no reason to believe that the fee had not been paid and that the error is that there end because their system is flawed.

It is certainly worth a punt.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

We can still exchange emails if you wish.

Best wishes.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the advice. I will have my day in court. I have logged my actions with the court but am not sure how much attention would be paid to it. They have also said that if i elect to attend court it would be moved from Northampton to a local court of their choosing. I assume this would not put me at a disadvantage?

Because this is a large commercial organisation and you are a private individual, and you are the defendant, they have got that completely wrong. It would actually be moved to your local court, not theirs which makes it even more costly for them. They are now lying to try to get you to pay up.

F E Smith and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Very interesting. Thanks for your time