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PLEASE HELP! County Court Claim Form received from Civil Enforcement Limited.
rb_93
post Sun, 19 May 2019 - 18:17
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Hi,

Today i received a county court claim form from CEL. and I intend to defend myself. I have completed an AoS but have not yet submitted my defence.

Should i request a SAR from CEL? and what specifics should I put into the SAR?

should I wait for a response to my SAR before submitting my defense?

could anyone give me contact details of where/who to address my SAR request too in CEL?

the claim was issued on 14/5/19.

I have read a number of forums which have left me very confused about how to proceed.

I do know i need to start forming my defence which I will do over the coming days. Ho long do I have to submit my defense? (and template defense letters would be very helpful!)

The PCN was issued in a pub car park (not sure if this matters)

Unfortunately i have ignored all previous correspondence (until reading advice today i assumed this was the best course of action).



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post Sun, 19 May 2019 - 18:17
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Redivi
post Sun, 19 May 2019 - 18:27
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Have you kept the previous correspondence ?

If so, there's no point contacting CEL
You wouldn't be the first to miss the defence deadline waiting for a reply and ending up on the wrong end of a default judgment

Returning the AOS gives you 33 days from the date of issue of the claim to deliver the defence

Check the search box in top right corner for CEL defences
There are probably hundreds of them

Don't use anything earlier than 2018

CEL claims include lots of fake charges that CEL won't want to explain to a judge
The defences attack these rather than the actual parking incident

Only a couple of sentences usually have to be changed to make them personal
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rb_93
post Sun, 19 May 2019 - 19:47
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Thanks for Speedy reply Redivi!

I have kept some but not all...

Thank you for all the great advice!

one more thing. the charge was issued as it was alleged that the driver of the vehicle was parked in the pub carpark but not using the pub. The driver of the vehicle was actually in the pub at the time (this can be proved with receipts) the tickets was issued. could this be used in the defense as proof that terms of contract have not actually been breached?
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southpaw82
post Sun, 19 May 2019 - 20:03
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Defence. We’re not American.

Bear in mind that if you choose to use a template then (a) it has to fit your circumstances - and has to be true and (b) it is almost certainly going to contain a lot of irrelevant guff that has no place in a defence.


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Redivi
post Sun, 19 May 2019 - 20:50
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It's a near certainty that there was a keypad inside to register your car

Your defence will therefore include the inconspicuous keypad, the lack of signs and the failure of the Principal's staff to warn you
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rb_93
post Wed, 5 Jun 2019 - 08:08
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Hi All,

Have spent some time writing and refining my defence.

this is what I have so far...

I am xxxx, the defendant in this matter and the registered keeper of vehicle xxxx xxx.

I deny I am liable for the entirety of the claim on the following grounds:

1. The Claim Form issued on the xxxxxxxx by xxxxxxxx was not correctly filed under The Practice Direction as it was not signed by a legal person. The claim does not have a valid signature and is not a statement of truth. It states that it has been issued by Civil Enforcement Limited as the Claimant’s Legal Representative. Practice Direction 22 requires that a statement of case on behalf of a company must be signed by a person holding a senior position and state the position. If the party is legally represented, the legal representative may sign the statement of truth but in his own name and not that of his firm or employer.

2. This Claimant has not complied with pre-court protocol (as outlined in the new Pre Action Protocol for Debt Claims, 1 October 2017) and as an example as to why this prevents a full defence being filed at this time, a parking charge can be for trespass, breach of contract or a contractual charge. All these are treated differently in law and require a different defence. The wording of any contract will naturally be a key element in this matter, and a copy of the alleged contract has never been provided to the Defendant.

a. There was no compliant Letter before County Court Claim, under the Practice Direction.

b. This is a speculative serial litigant, issuing a large number of draft particulars. The badly mail-merged documents contain very little information.

c. The Schedule of Information is sparse of detailed information.

d. The Claim Form Particulars were extremely sparse and divulged no cause of action nor sufficient detail. The Defendant has no idea what the claim is about; why the charge arose, what the alleged contract was; nothing that could be considered a fair exchange of information. Furthermore, the Claim Form Particulars did not contain any evidence of contravention or photographs. These documents, and the Letter before County Court Claim; should have been produced, pursuant to paragraph 6 of the Practice Direction Pre Action Conduct. This constitutes a deliberate attempt to thwart any efforts to defend the claim or to take stock, pursuant to paragraph 12 of the Practice Direction. Again, this totally contradicts the guidance outlined in the new Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims (2017), the aims of which are:

e. The Defence therefore asks the Court to strike out the claim as disclosing no cause of action and having no reasonable prospect of success as currently drafted

3. The Claimant failed to meet the Notice to Keeper obligations of Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. Such a notice did not fully comply with statutory wording. The Claimant is therefore unable to hold the defendant liable under the strict keeper liability provisions:

The Claimant did not comply with POFA 2012 and give the registered keeper opportunity, at any point, to identify the driver. A Notice to Keeper can be served by ordinary post and the Protection of Freedoms Act requires that the Notice, to be valid, must be delivered no later than 14 days after the vehicle was parked. No ticket was left on the windscreen and no notice to keeper was sent within the 14 days required to comply with POFA 2012 only a speculative invoice entitled Parking Charge Notice; which was sent outside of the 14 day period, which did not comply with POFA 2012. This would exclude the registered keeper being liable for any charges.

Henry Greenslade, lead adjudicator of POPLA in 2015 and an eminent barrister and parking law expert, stated that; However keeper information is obtained, there is no reasonable presumption, in law that the registered keeper of a vehicle is the driver. Operators should never suggest anything of the sort. Schedule 4 also states that the only sum a keeper can be pursued for (if Schedule 4 is fully complied with, which it was not, and if there was a 'relevant obligation' and ‘relevant contract' fairly and adequately communicated, which there was not) is the sum on the Notice to Keeper. They cannot pluck another sum from thin air and bolt that on as well when neither the signs, nor the NTK, nor the permit information mentioned a possible £268.73 for outstanding debt and damages. The additional costs, which the defendant contests have not been incurred, are none of its concern.

4. The Claimant has added unrecoverable sums to the original parking charge. It is believed that the employee who drew up the paperwork is remunerated, and the particulars of claim are templates, so it is simply not credible that £50 legal representative’s costs were incurred. The Defendant believes that Civil Enforcement Ltd has artificially inflated this claim. They are claiming legal costs when not only is this not permitted (CPR 27.14) but also the Defendant believes that they have not incurred legal costs. According to Ladak v DRC Locums UKEAT/0488/13/LA the claimant can only recover the direct and provable costs of the time spent on preparing the claim in a legal capacity, not any administration cost. The Defendant denies that the Claimant is entitled to any interest whatsoever. The claimant has not explained how the claim has increased from the original parking notice to £268.73 If the Claimant alleges that they claim the cost of its in-house administration, these cannot be recovered - they are staff performing the task that they have been employed for and essential to the Claimant's business plan.

5. This case can be distinguished from ParkingEye v Beavis [2015] UKSC 67 (the Beavis case) which was dependent upon an undenied contract, formed by unusually prominent signage forming a clear offer and which turned on unique facts regarding the location and the interests of the landowner. Strict compliance with the BPA Code of Practice (CoP) was paramount and Mr Beavis was the driver who saw the signs and entered into a contract to pay £85 after exceeding a licence to park free. As far as I can ascertain, based upon the very vague particulars of claim and complete lack of evidence and photographs, and without having been furnished with the alleged signage contract none of this applies in this material case.

6. In the absence of any proof of adequate signage contractually bound the Defendant then there can have been no contract and the Claimant has no case

a. The Claimant is put to strict proof at the time of the alleged event they had both advertisement consent and the permission from the site owner to display the signs

b. In the absence of strict proof I submit that the Claimant was committing an offence by displaying their signs and therefore no contract could have been entered into between the driver and the Claimant

c. Inadequate signs incapable of binding the driver this distinguishes this case from the Beavis case:

i. Sporadic and illegible (charge not prominent nor large lettering) of site/entrance signage - breach of the POFA 2012 Schedule 4 and the BPA Code of Practice and no contract formed to pay any clearly stated sum
ii. It is believed the signage was not lit and any terms were not transparent or legible; this is an unfair contract, not agreed by the driver and contrary to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in requiring a huge inflated sum as compensation from an authorised party using the premises as intended
iii. No promise was made by the driver that could constitute consideration because there was no offer known nor accepted. No consideration flowed from the Claimant
iv. The signs are believed to have no mention of any debt collection additional charge, which cannot form part of any alleged contract.

d. BPA CoP breaches. this distinguishes this case from the Beavis case:
i. The signs were not compliant in terms of the font size, lighting or positioning
ii. The sum pursued exceeds £100
iii. There is/was no compliant landowner contract

7. No standing, this distinguishes this case from the Beavis case:
It is believed Civil Enforcement Ltd do not hold a legitimate contract at this car park. As an agent, the Claimant has no legal right to bring such a claim in their name, which should be in the name of the landowner. is this applicable to all CEL defences? just checking as it's a cut n'paste, if this is applicable to my situation?

8. The Beavis case confirmed the fact that, if it is a matter of trespass (not breach of any contract), a parking firm has no standing as a non-landowner to pursue even nominal damages.

9. The charge is an unenforceable penalty based upon a lack of commercial justification. The Beavis case confirmed that the penalty rule is certainly engaged in any case of a private parking charge and was only disengaged due to the unique circumstances of that case, which do not resemble this claim.

10. The Defendant has reasonable belief that the Claimant sent a letter claiming to be a final letter before court action, but then instead sent this to more debt collectors. As such the Claimants have artificially inflated the claim value by claiming to involve further debt collectors, the Defendant puts the Claimant to strict proof that all claimed costs were invoiced and paid

11. Due to the length of time, the Defendant has little to no recollection of the day in question. It would not be reasonable expect a registered keeper to be able to recall the potential driver(s) of the car 9 months later. The burden rests with the Claimant to identify the driver, who is the only party potentially liable in cases where a parking firm is unable to rely upon the POFA.

The Defendant denies any liability whatsoever to the Claimant in any matter and asks the Court to note that the Claimant has:

(a) Failed to disclose any cause of action in the incorrectly filed Claim Form issued on 14 May 2019.

(b) Sent a template, well-known to be generic cut and paste 'Particulars' of claim relying on irrelevant case law (Beavis) which ignores the fact that this Claimant cannot hold registered keepers liable in law, due to their own choice of non-POFA documentation.

The vague Particulars of Claim disclose no clear cause of action. The court is invited to strike out the claim of its own volition as having no merit and no reasonable prospects of success.


STATEMENT OF TRUTH

I confirm that the contents of this Defence are true to the best of my knowledge and recollection.



In regards proof that driver was in pub and there was inadequate signage/warning that fines would be issued. how would this be included in a defence without disclosing who the driver was? or, in this case would it be pertinant to admit who driver was as this is a stinger defence?

all the best,

rb_93
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southpaw82
post Wed, 5 Jun 2019 - 09:31
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Pleadings (including defences) are normally written in the 3rd person, i.e. “the
Defendant”, not “I”.

1. The Claim Form issued on the xxxxxxxx by xxxxxxxx was not correctly filed under The Practice Direction as it was not signed by a legal person. The claim does not have a valid signature and is not a statement of truth. It states that it has been issued by Civil Enforcement Limited as the Claimant’s Legal Representative. Practice Direction 22 requires that a statement of case on behalf of a company must be signed by a person holding a senior position and state the position. If the party is legally represented, the legal representative may sign the statement of truth but in his own name and not that of his firm or employer.

And PD 22 also tells you what you should do, at paragraph 4.2: Any party may apply to the court for an order that unless within such period as the court may specify the statement of case is verified by the service of a statement of truth, the statement of case will be struck out.. Are you going to pay the £255 fee to apply to have the claim form struck out? In reality, the court will probably allow the claim for to be signed properly but you might get your fee back in costs.

2. This Claimant has not complied with pre-court protocol (as outlined in the new Pre Action Protocol for Debt Claims, 1 October 2017) and as an example as to why this prevents a full defence being filed at this time, a parking charge can be for trespass, breach of contract or a contractual charge. All these are treated differently in law and require a different defence. The wording of any contract will naturally be a key element in this matter, and a copy of the alleged contract has never been provided to the Defendant.

a. There was no compliant Letter before County Court Claim, under the Practice Direction.

b. This is a speculative serial litigant, issuing a large number of draft particulars. The badly mail-merged documents contain very little information.

c. The Schedule of Information is sparse of detailed information.

d. The Claim Form Particulars were extremely sparse and divulged no cause of action nor sufficient detail. The Defendant has no idea what the claim is about; why the charge arose, what the alleged contract was; nothing that could be considered a fair exchange of information. Furthermore, the Claim Form Particulars did not contain any evidence of contravention or photographs. These documents, and the Letter before County Court Claim; should have been produced, pursuant to paragraph 6 of the Practice Direction Pre Action Conduct. This constitutes a deliberate attempt to thwart any efforts to defend the claim or to take stock, pursuant to paragraph 12 of the Practice Direction. Again, this totally contradicts the guidance outlined in the new Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims (2017), the aims of which are:

e. The Defence therefore asks the Court to strike out the claim as disclosing no cause of action and having no reasonable prospect of success as currently drafted


If you want the claim struck out you need to make an application to court and pay the appropriate fee (normally £255).

Henry Greenslade, lead adjudicator of POPLA in 2015 and an eminent barrister and parking law expert, stated that; However keeper information is obtained, there is no reasonable presumption, in law that the registered keeper of a vehicle is the driver. Operators should never suggest anything of the sort. Schedule 4 also states that the only sum a keeper can be pursued for (if Schedule 4 is fully complied with, which it was not, and if there was a 'relevant obligation' and ‘relevant contract' fairly and adequately communicated, which there was not) is the sum on the Notice to Keeper. They cannot pluck another sum from thin air and bolt that on as well when neither the signs, nor the NTK, nor the permit information mentioned a possible £268.73 for outstanding debt and damages. The additional costs, which the defendant contests have not been incurred, are none of its concern.

Don’t (ever) quote someone writing academically in your defence. That is a matter for evidence and argument and should not be included in a defence. Also, never try to lead evidence that usurps the role of the judge - it is entirely up to the judge to decide on the facts proven and the law.

They are claiming legal costs when not only is this not permitted (CPR 27.14)

Pretty sure they are. £50 is the fixed cost of a lawyer issuing a claim for the recovery of money of between £25 and £500 (CPR 45.2)

According to Ladak v DRC Locums UKEAT/0488/13/LA the claimant can only recover the direct and provable costs of the time spent on preparing the claim in a legal capacity, not any administration cost.

Ladak was a case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and was based on the Employment Tribunal Rules, not the Civil Procedure Rules - albeit the relevant wording is very similar in both. If you’re going to cite this case then you would need to explain its relevance to the CPR. Additionally, a fixed cost under CPR 45 is just that - I’m not aware of any rule that says that the claimant has to prove the amount of the fixed cost.

The Defendant denies that the Claimant is entitled to any interest whatsoever.

What about statutory interest under s 69 of the County Courts Act 1984? Why would they not be entitled to that?

If the Claimant alleges that they claim the cost of its in-house administration, these cannot be recovered - they are staff performing the task that they have been employed for and essential to the Claimant's business plan.

Ok but what is your authority for that assertion? It doesn’t need to go in your defence but you’ll need to produce it at court.

As far as I can ascertain, based upon the very vague particulars of claim and complete lack of evidence and photographs, and without having been furnished with the alleged signage contract none of this applies in this material case.

This sentence appears to make no sense. Did you forget a bit?

6. In the absence of any proof of adequate signage contractually bound the Defendant then there can have been no contract and the Claimant has no case

That’s probably your strongest point.

a. The Claimant is put to strict proof at the time of the alleged event they had both advertisement consent and the permission from the site owner to display the signs

b. In the absence of strict proof I submit that the Claimant was committing an offence by displaying their signs and therefore no contract could have been entered into between the driver and the Claimant


What is “strict” proof? Is that different to “not so strict” proof? There’s only one standard of proof in a civil case - the balance of probabilities. You would phrase such a request as “the Defendant has no knowledge of [whatever is in issue] and requires the Claimant to prove the same”.

In any case, your assertion that if there was no advertising consent then the contract is void for illegality (because that’s what you’re getting at) is wrong. The performance of the contract is not for an illegal purpose and thus the test for illegality is not made out.

this is an unfair contract, not agreed by the driver and contrary to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in requiring a huge inflated sum as compensation from an authorised party using the premises as intended

If the price is a main term of the contract then it is excluded from the fairness provisions of the CRA 2015 by virtue of s 64.

7. No standing, this distinguishes this case from the Beavis case:
It is believed Civil Enforcement Ltd do not hold a legitimate contract at this car park. As an agent, the Claimant has no legal right to bring such a claim in their name, which should be in the name of the landowner.


Do you hold that belief? Or is it just a guess? You’ll be signing a statement of truth saying that you believe it to be true, so you’d better be accurate - otherwise you’re at risk of contempt proceedings.

The Beavis case confirmed that the penalty rule is certainly engaged in any case of a private parking charge

Did it?

(a) Failed to disclose any cause of action in the incorrectly filed Claim Form issued on 14 May 2019.

What do you mean?

(b) Sent a template, well-known to be generic cut and paste 'Particulars' of claim relying on irrelevant case law (Beavis) which ignores the fact that this Claimant cannot hold registered keepers liable in law, due to their own choice of non-POFA documentation.

That’s rather amusing considering you’re doing exactly the same. In any case, what is the relevance of it?

In regards proof that driver was in pub and there was inadequate signage/warning that fines would be issued. how would this be included in a defence without disclosing who the driver was? or, in this case would it be pertinant to admit who driver was as this is a stinger defence?


Well, do the particulars of claim alleged that you were the driver (or driver/keeper)? If they do, then you have to deal with that allegation by admitting it or denying it (truthfully, of course). Civil cases don’t work on the basis of saying “prove it”.


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Any comments made do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. No lawyer/client relationship should be assumed nor should any duty of care be owed.
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