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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
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I'm going to small claims court in a bid that the judge is

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I'm going to small claims court in a bid that the judge is able to apply a human eye to a parking charge. I have the notice of hearing application and just want to know if I need to send anything in if it was all attached to the claim submission?
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer about this? In which country do you live? If different, which country is your legal question related to?
Customer: I have not, England and England.
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Hearing is booked for 15 December
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: Not sure.

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer.

Thank you for the question, I am reviewing the details now and I will aim to resolve it as quickly as possible for you.

You mention a notice of hearing for 15th December and an application - could you please advise whether it was you or the claimant who made the application (and what the application was for).

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
I am the claimant, the application is to reclaim costs on a parking charge.

Costs as in the debt collection costs and court fees?

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
The charge of £100, the court fees and a charge I incurred for admin (which I understand may not be recoverable but that's fine)

Thanks, ***** ***** parking fine results from breach of contract - either you didn’t pay when you used a car park, or you did but you overstayed.

The fine is fairly low initially but will increase for as long as it remains unpaid - with debt collection charges so it can easily double.
Parking Eye was involved in a similar dispute with a defendant (Mr Beavis) a few years ago.

The Beavis case concerned the initial £100 "fine", court fee and expenses.

Note that in a breach of contact case, a fine is not applicable - it does not apply. It is a misnomer. They pursued you as they believe you were in breach of contract and therefore owed damages.

The above case concerned the reasonableness of the fee (the amount) for an overstay.

It hinged on whether the claimant had actually lost that money due to the defendant's conduct. In a free car park, there is no "loss" to speak of.

It comes down to contract law. A parking fine results from breach of contract - as I mentioned earlier.

As to whether the case applies to you, I would say it does but each case is different and depends on its own facts. If you were in a free car park then damages would be little or nothing so my view is you could challenge this fine. My view is that you could challenge the reasonableness of the fine and ask them for evidence that the £100 is their true loss (and if so, to break it down for you).
The judge at the hearing next month will have to consider whether £100 was reasonable given the facts - I do not know the facts leading to the fine so it's somewhat difficult for me to say whether you will succeed or not. You asked about whether you need to send anything in if it was all attached - I would say not in that case.

Ultimately it will come down to the judge and whether they believe your claim has merit or not.

So the judge will need to decide :
1. whether there was a contract in place - if so, whether the sign was displayed prominently
2. how long you stayed for, or overstayed, whether you paid or not, etc
3. whether the parking company can show they incurred £100 or not - and a breakdown of that loss ideally
4. whether the car park was free to use for a certain time or not (if not whether it was a paid car park from the moment you use it).

I hope this answers the question. If you have any follow up questions then please do let me know.

Many thanks,
Jim

Just a final note that I am free most days and would be happy to assist with any other queries you may have.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** but the machine failed to take full registration so they are claiming breach as it's my responsibility to make sure it's complete.
However the question I asked was if I need to send documents to the court email ahead of the hearing if I have already sent everything upon application?

No, unless the court has told you to prepare a bundle and send it to the court in advance of the court hearing. You should look at the court order you will have received as it tells you how to prepare for the hearing which may include sending in documents to the court. If you have already send everyone in then you should be fine but do check the court order which you will have received to double check.

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Okay, so even if I've already sent them by way of the application, do it again anyway if it says I must send documents.

Yes, just to show you have complied with the court order. If the court order says that, it's important to comply - otherwise they could argue you did not comply and the judge could strike the claim out (sounds over the top but it's better to be safe)

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
The glory of bureaucracy, thanks.
Is there any precedent around fairness on this type of thing? It's clear the ticket is for my vehicle, it was a brand new 21 plate and there were maybe 6 vehicles (at a push) in the whole car park for the duration, being in the throws of the early lockdowns, so a reasonable human should have been able to see my proof of payment and ticket and accept their machines aren't great.
What I am hoping is that the judge will be able to apply reasonableness and tell them to stop being crap
.

Yes, the British Parking Association code would help in this situation - for typing errors when inputting a vehicle reg: https://www.britishparking.co.uk/AOS-Code-Changes-2018

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Oh superb, thanks I'll take a look through their page.

No problem, it would be worth printing it off and taking it with you or sending it to the court in time for the 15th December

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
I'll save the page as a PDF and highlight the relevant section(s). If worst comes to worst, as an individual vs a company how likely it is that I would have to cover their legal fees?

I would say nil - in a small claim, each party bears their own costs. The court can depart from this rule but you would have had to have done something bad, like breach court directions, being a claim with no merit, refusing to speak to the defendant, etc.
If you lose you would not be liable for the legal fees, I am sure - as your claim has merit in my view

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Thanks, that's reassuring, they tried to pressure me into not taking it forwards by suggesting I'd be liable for their legal fees.

They always do that.

Normally, solicitor’s charges are not recoverable in the small claims track - but the court has discretion under CPR rule 27.14(2)(g) to award costs if the other party "behaves unreasonably", examples being a failure to respond to letters/emails/calls, unwillingness to discuss the case and discuss settlement, a claim which has no merit, not following the court directions, etc.

If you have followed the protocol (it appears you have) and your case has merit, it would be a scare tactic from the other side's solicitor.

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
I didn't respond to the solicitor letter but have responded in all other areas. They are trying to apply the letter of the parking contract as a reason for the claim having no merit, in that a full registration was not present.

It does have merit because you paid and the machine did not take the full reg - plus there were only few other vehicles at the time - as you say, the machines were not very effective and my view is you were reasonable in the circumstances.

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Brilliant, you've been a real reassurance to an anxiety-ridden person.

No problem, a small claim is design for someone without a lawyer - and as I say, there is no risk of costs unless you did something awful which you haven't. It will be yourself at the hearing, a district judge (who is a practising solicitor or a barrister), and someone from the defendant's side. It is quite an informal hearing - most of the time the judge has already made their mind up before you go in based on the strength of the written evidence. They may ask you questions and same for the other side but they aren't there to trip you up, just to ask clarifying queries.
When you see the judge, if you address them as "Sir" or "Madam", just be polite and try not to mud-sling or bad-mouth the defendant.

The hearing shouldn't last long either

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Good to know.
I'll mostly be trying to no cry, I'm a stress crier and if it wasn't bad enough just going through it, at the time the charge was first raised I was literally homeless following the failure of a mortgage advisor so I was so depressed and anxious I was on medication and can hardly remember what I was doing.
Customer: replied 5 days ago.
even thinking about it now is causing me to fight it back.

I wouldn't let it get the better of you, though it's easy for me to say.
You could ask someone to go with you, or you could use an advocate if that helps - such as one from http://www.clerksroomdirect.com or http://www.lpc-law.co.uk

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Its on the phone so I'll be at home at least. You've given me lots to prepare with so that will make the world of difference. Thank you

That's must easier then - a lot of hearings are by telephone now or video calls.
It''ll go like this :
1. the court should ring you (or the defendant if they arranged the call, their provider will call you)
2. the judge will join the call - as will the defendant.
3. the judge says hello, you say good morning sir (or madam), etc.
4. the judge should be asked if they have the papers and whether they have read them all. They should say yes.
5. you would give a brief summary of the dispute and why you issued the claim - you could point out the machine did not let you input the full reg but you did pay, etc.
6. the judge should ask the defendant for their comments.
7. you may be asked for any replies to what the defendant just said
8. the judge will give their view and sum up what they think - if they agree with you, you will be given judgment for your claim. If they disagree, they will say the claim is dismissed.
9. if the defendant then asks for costs, you should say that you dispute this as you have not breached rule 24.14 (of the civil procedure rules) as you have followed the court directions and you have been in communication with the defendant - so there is no reason to depart from the usual "no costs rule" in a small claim.
10. The judge should agree with that and deny the defence their costs.

I recommend you also remind the judge that in January 2020 the British Parking Association revised their rules as regards ***** ***** registration numbers

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Thats great, thank you

My pleasure

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