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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 17067
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I have received a letter from Gladstone Solicitors, Reading

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I have received a letter from Gladstone Solicitors
JA: What location was this in? And have you consulted a local lawyer?
Customer: Reading Berkshire. No not yet
JA: Was a citation issued? Was a court date set?
Customer: No it’s a “letter before claim” asking me to pay an extortionate amount before they issue proceedings
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: Only that I didn’t stay in the car park as they claim I did.

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer.

I am one of the legal experts on the site and I am a dual-qualified solicitor (UK & Republic of Ireland)

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

Sorry to hear of the issue.

A case like this concerned breach of contract - you use a car park which has restrictions and you enter in to a contract when you do. You are then liable to pay to use the car park - if you don't, or you and you overstay then they fine you.

You say you were not in the car park - they need to prove you were so you should ask them to provide evidence (CCTV footage or stills) to show the date and time they allege you were in the car park.

They should send a letter before action to you if their debt collection attempts fail - which is required under the pre action protocol to give you the chance to avoid court action. They usually give you 14 days to pay before they will take civil court action.

It is recommended that you reply to this letter given the courts expect parties in a dispute to engage and discuss their dispute, to try and avoid court action.

If they do sue, you will receive court documents (a response pack) which you must complete and return to the court. It is a tick box exercise for the most part and there is a short section to write a defence which is easy enough though please feel free to come back to this site if you need any more help.

You should not ignore the court papers as if you do, the claimant will apply for judgment in default meaning they win and you would not be allowed to defend the claim.

A claim will also take 9-12 months to be decided at court. If you lost then you would get 14 days to pay the judgment before the claimant can enforce the order, and 30 days to pay in full before it is registered with credit agencies. The claimant cannot recover legal costs if they win, in a claim under £10K (a small claim), all they can claim are the court fees and interest.

If the claim has no merit (e.g. they cannot prove you used the car park on the date and time in question) then you have an option (after your defence is filed) to apply to strike the claim out. The court will consider an application if the claim has no merit, or is misconceived. You should first invite the claimant to voluntarily discontinue their claim within 7 days if it gets to this point - tell them if they don't then you will apply to strike out and seek your costs if you are forced to do so. If you have no response or they reply and refuse then you could apply to strike out.

The application costs £275 but this is recoverable if your application succeeds. If you are on a low income, have low savings or in receipt of benefits then you can ask the court to waive the court fee. If you won the application, the claim is struck out.

The hearing (if the case gets that far) is likely to be held remotely, it's you, a district judge (who is a practising solicitor or barrister) and someone from the claimant company. The Judge decides and if you lost, you get 14 days to pay the sum. If paid in full within 30 days then nothing goes on your credit record. But certainly I think you would succeed in a defence, just to be clear, assuming they cannot show you used the car park in question.

I can assist you going forwards if it gets to the point they issue a claim.


I hope this helps

It was a pleasure to assist you today and I hope this answers the question.

If you have any follow up questions or if you would like me to clarify anything I have said, please let me know and I will be happy to help.

Many thanks,

Jim

Just a final note that if you would like to reconnect with me at a later date, simply add me as a favourite expert and you can then tag me in a question.

I look forward to helping you again soon.

Thanks again,

Jim



Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I totally understand the breach of contract, however UK car park management say that I stayed in the car park for over 4hrs but I didn’t - I literally stayed there for up to 5-10minutes. I tried to contact them via phone on many occasions but the phone line kept ringing endlessly. They kept sending me warning letters to the point I now have a letter from Gladstones Solicitors who have given me until 1July to pay the debt or they will take it to court.
I then contacted gladstones solitons via phone a spoke to a representative and she told me to email them my dispute - which I did the next day and I have had no response from them a legal representative to discuss the claim.

Thanks, ***** ***** was free parking for 5-10 minutes then they have no claim. If you had to pay upon entering, they will pursue you for this as they will say you breached the contract by not paying to use the car park area.

Apologies, I am unavailable for a call but your request is open to other experts to accept

There is a well known case which went to court, Parking Eye v Beavis.

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. They are pursuing you as they believe you are in breach of contract and are due 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.

As to whether the case applies to you, I would say it does but each case is different and depends on its own facts. In a free car park (to a certain point) the damages would be little or nothing so my view is you could challenge this fine. You said this was a petrol station (not a private car park) so my view is you challenge the reasonableness of the fine and ask them for evidence that the sum they want from you is their true loss (and if so, to break it down for you).

You could make them an offer or you could refuse to pay and challenge this in a small claim.



Customer: replied 14 days ago.
This was in a retail car park, where it’s free parking up to 4hrs. They (car park management company) say I stayed there for over 4hrs. They sent me a small photo of the front and back of my car with number plate with the letter.
I explained to Gladstones Solicitors that I tried to get in touch with the uk car park management company but they didn’t respond and I’m not paying this ridiculous fine that I did not over stay in.

OK, thanks. It sounds like you have solid grounds to dispute this and defend a claim if they do pursue one. In a free car park there is no loss to speak of if you were only there for a matter of minutes.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
do I sit tight and wait for what they do next? I mean they should really respond to my email that I had sent them.

Yes they should reply - the pre action protocol confirms that parties should engage before court action.

JimLawyer and other Traffic Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Ok thank you. I will wait and see what happens and let you know if I need anymore advise
Hi, my pleasure - thank you

Please do let me know how you get on and if you need any more help

Thanks, ***** ***** good day