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University of Liverpool graduating to blackmail?, I believe that my employer has overstepped the mark!
Karl.H
post Mon, 17 Sep 2012 - 20:16
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I believe (but I may be wrong) that my employer has overstepped the mark between civil and criminal action against me. Can anyone help to confirm or deny this, please? I have written a summary but please let me know if you want any more information or if something is unclear.

I pay for parking on my employer's private property. In an effort to get staff to park only in 'designated' spaces they have had their Facilities Management staff sticking Parking Notices onto cars on behalf of a third party, LIBERTY PRINTERS (AR AND RF REDDIN) LIMITED, which trades as CAR PARKING PARTNERSHIP LIMITED. I am led to believe (although I have no confirmation) that no contract exists between my employer and this third party; I'm not sure if that has any bearing on the matter.

I took issue on principle not with their demand that people park only in designated areas but with the fact that they essentially started throwing their weight around as the employer and threatened financial loss if we did not comply. I therefore continued to park, as I always had previously without receiving any demands for money from anyone, in 'undesignated' spaces whenever there were no 'designated' space available. As far as I know, only courts can issue fines after someone has been found guilty of a crime by a jury of their peers (due process). So, in my opinion my employer has absolutely no authority whatsoever to be demanding money as punishment (and without any lawful due process) for breaking a mere company policy (not a law). The third party also has absolutely no authority to demand money from me, not least because I have never entered into a contract with them. Any arrangement (contractual or otherwise) that my employer has with this third party is their business and not mine; I am not vicariously a party to someone else's contract.

My employer has today written a letter to me threatening the loss of parking access if I do not pay the third party the money they are demanding. No individual person at my company signed or even put their name to the letter and it was emailed from a non-personal account of my employer; whoever sent it appears to be reluctant to be personally associated with it but it was sent on my company’s letterhead, so I consider it official communication. It is my understanding that even if the original claim had been perfectly legitimate, making threats about it, which include adverse consequences for me if I do not hand over money to a third party, constitutes blackmail. So, in my opinion, this civil dispute has graduated to a criminal matter upon them sending the threatening letter.

Knowing that there is large legal department full of people who should know better and having looked at section 21 of the Theft Act 1968, I believe that my employer does NOT have reasonable grounds to make the demand that I hand over a large sum of money to a third party whom I have never entered into a contract with; i.e. they are knowingly making an unlawful demand (privately ordained punishment) which negates the possibility of it being considered reasonable. They are also using the threat of the loss of parking access as a means of coercion to get me to comply with the demand to hand over the money.

Given that the communication comes from a large corporation that has a large legal department and that the threatening letter was sent on official company letterhead on behalf of my employer, via a non-personal email account, not simply from a single, misguided employee acting alone and without the company's approval then would this, in your opinion, constitute blackmail? Would there be a criminal and/or civil case for them to answer if I proceeded to report the matter to the police? Can you recommend a way forward?

I did attempt to report the matter at the police station on the way home from work, taking the letter with me but the officer at the desk seemed to think it was still a civil matter and had not become a criminal one despite the threat. However, he thought I should seek legal advice first and if I still wanted to then I could make the report by dialling 101 and subsequently making an appointment to take the documents to a police station.
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post Mon, 17 Sep 2012 - 20:16
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bama
post Mon, 17 Sep 2012 - 20:30
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QUOTE
and it was emailed from a non-personal account of my employer;

you looked in the mail headers to see what IP address it came from.
It has been known for PPC to send such letters themselves (e.g/ Tesco letter headed stuff that on fact came from the PPC)

This post has been edited by bama: Mon, 17 Sep 2012 - 20:30


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Which facts in any situation or problem are “essential” and what makes them “essential”? If the “essential” facts are said to depend on the principles involved, then the whole business, all too obviously, goes right around in a circle. In the light of one principle or set of principles, one bunch of facts will be the “essential” ones; in the light of another principle or set of principles, a different bunch of facts will be “essential.” In order to settle on the right facts you first have to pick your principles, although the whole point of finding the facts was to indicate which principles apply.

Note that I am not legally qualified and any and all statements made are "Reserved". Liability for application lies with the reader.
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Karl.H
post Mon, 17 Sep 2012 - 20:49
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Just checked - yes it came from my employer, not elsewhere.

This post has been edited by Karl.H: Mon, 17 Sep 2012 - 21:01
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fatboytim
post Mon, 17 Sep 2012 - 22:52
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Karl.H

I'm guessing your not in a Union.


Pity


It may be worth talking to the Union with the most members among your colleagues, as this may well be detrimental to their members, and they do like to keep busy.

fatboytim



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glasgow_bhoy
post Mon, 17 Sep 2012 - 23:02
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Student Union might be interested- they represent the students but I'm sure they'd love to have a member of staff help 'get one over' the uni.
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SchoolRunMum
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 01:06
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I think I would reply to the email and say firstly that if there is an issue to be discussed relating to any aspect of your employment (including the parking provision) then an anonymous email is surely not the established way to go about it. Unless this is raised through the appropriate channels you will consider the matter closed.

Secondly that any alleged debt owed to 'Liberty Printers t/a Car Parking Partnership' is denied and, as such, the firm in question would of course have the age-old remedy of taking you to small claims court if they feel they have a case. Until such Court papers have been received you will not enter into correspondence over this spurious claim as you do not have any contract nor credit agreement with this firm.



(I wouldn't tip them off that they can in fact only take a driver to Court. Not needed and I don't think CPP do Court anyway).
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Alexis
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 14:52
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You might be be best covering yourself with a letter stating you deny that any debt exists between yourself and Liberty Printers Ltd and should the contrary be alleged to provide to you the following:

• the precise wording of the contract relied upon by Liberty
• a copy of the contract between the landowner and
• the precise nature of the debt and whether the alleged debt is based in breach of contract, or trespass, in which case a breakdown of damages of alleged to have been suffered from the breach be supplied by Liberty in the first instance, or the landowner in the second instance.

This post has been edited by Alexis: Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 14:52
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hcandersen
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 16:07
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Why don't you post this correspondence? For my part I find it almost impossible to follow the thread of your post because at every letter of every word your annoyance, frustration and emotion hit the reader.

I know you might feel it, but keep it bottled as what you feel is not the legal issue.

Your employer has written to you. So, are their actions something which fall within your obligations and duty to them as an employee? If not, then write and tell them so. Not aggressively, but dispassionately. If they believe that they may require you to act in this way and if you don't they may take lawful action against you under your contract of employment, then they need to say so. But stop getting yourself into a lather with ideas of blackmail etc. I don't know what you've been reading, but it's not helping you.

HCA
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Karl.H
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 18:48
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I read section 21 of the theft act 1968. The two actions that are required for blackmail to have occurred are making an unreasonable demand, for the purpose of gaining for oneself or another - or to cause loss to someone, and accompanying that demand with 'menaces', such as a threat in order to coerce the person into complying with the demand.

There are a number of reasons why demanding that I hand over a large sum of money to a third party that I've never contracted with is unreasonable, so point 1 is easily met, and they accompanied this unreasonable demand with a threat. They didn't threaten to kill me or to break my legs but they don't need to make that kind of threat for it to be blackmail. This is my opinion anyway - I was wondering if anyone else had thoughts on whether they had overstepped the boundary between dealing with the matter under civil law and had actually strayed into some pretty serious criminal action.
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bama
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 19:17
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we can't. we haven't seen the 'threat' (the correspondence)

This post has been edited by bama: Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 19:17


--------------------
Which facts in any situation or problem are “essential” and what makes them “essential”? If the “essential” facts are said to depend on the principles involved, then the whole business, all too obviously, goes right around in a circle. In the light of one principle or set of principles, one bunch of facts will be the “essential” ones; in the light of another principle or set of principles, a different bunch of facts will be “essential.” In order to settle on the right facts you first have to pick your principles, although the whole point of finding the facts was to indicate which principles apply.

Note that I am not legally qualified and any and all statements made are "Reserved". Liability for application lies with the reader.
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Karl.H
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 19:33
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Here it is.
Attached File(s)
Attached File  VPA_Letter_September_2012__Edit_.pdf ( 565.39K ) Number of downloads: 326
 
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Umtwebby
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 21:00
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QUOTE (Karl.H @ Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 19:48) *
I read section 21 of the theft act 1968. The two actions that are required for blackmail to have occurred are making an unreasonable demand, for the purpose of gaining for oneself or another - or to cause loss to someone, and accompanying that demand with 'menaces', such as a threat in order to coerce the person into complying with the demand.

There are a number of reasons why demanding that I hand over a large sum of money to a third party that I've never contracted with is unreasonable, so point 1 is easily met, and they accompanied this unreasonable demand with a threat. They didn't threaten to kill me or to break my legs but they don't need to make that kind of threat for it to be blackmail. This is my opinion anyway - I was wondering if anyone else had thoughts on whether they had overstepped the boundary between dealing with the matter under civil law and had actually strayed into some pretty serious criminal action.


The offence of blackmail does not state unreasonable demand, it states unwarranted demand which I believe to be different to what you consider the offence to be. The definition of unwarranted is groundless or lacking justification which think defeats your argument about it being blackmail immediately.

I agree that the with-holding or taking money from your pay might be a breach of the law but I think it is probably employment law rather than criminal law.

I also think that if the demand is made with a threat of court action then the offence is not committed


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fluff34567
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 21:29
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QUOTE (Karl.H @ Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 20:33) *
Here it is.



fines? really !??
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SatNavSam
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 21:38
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Five mentions of fines. Where do they get off with that?


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Karl.H
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 22:03
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QUOTE (Umtwebby @ Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 22:00) *
QUOTE (Karl.H @ Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 19:48) *
I read section 21 of the theft act 1968. The two actions that are required for blackmail to have occurred are making an unreasonable demand, for the purpose of gaining for oneself or another - or to cause loss to someone, and accompanying that demand with 'menaces', such as a threat in order to coerce the person into complying with the demand.

There are a number of reasons why demanding that I hand over a large sum of money to a third party that I've never contracted with is unreasonable, so point 1 is easily met, and they accompanied this unreasonable demand with a threat. They didn't threaten to kill me or to break my legs but they don't need to make that kind of threat for it to be blackmail. This is my opinion anyway - I was wondering if anyone else had thoughts on whether they had overstepped the boundary between dealing with the matter under civil law and had actually strayed into some pretty serious criminal action.


The offence of blackmail does not state unreasonable demand, it states unwarranted demand which I believe to be different to what you consider the offence to be. The definition of unwarranted is groundless or lacking justification which think defeats your argument about it being blackmail immediately.

I agree that the with-holding or taking money from your pay might be a breach of the law but I think it is probably employment law rather than criminal law.

I also think that if the demand is made with a threat of court action then the offence is not committed

OK, unwarranted rather than unreasonable. However, in what way is it justified for them to demand that I make a payment to a third party that I've never entered into a contract with?
Also, the demand was not made with a threat of court action, it was made with the threat of the loss of parking rights.


This post has been edited by Karl.H: Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 22:06
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SchoolRunMum
post Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 22:19
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QUOTE (Karl.H @ Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 23:03) *
OK, unwarranted rather than unreasonable. However, in what way is it justified for them to demand that I make a payment to a third party that I've never entered into a contract with?





It is not justified; they cannot make you pay. It would need to go to Small Claims if they wanted to try to make you pay - and then they'd have to win!

I would not let the letter/email go without a response telling them clearly that these demands are not 'fines'; any fines from a private company would be unenforceable in law which is why you have been ignoring the spurious demands. Sending demands for money to the registered keeper of a vehicle (who happens to be you, an employee) is not proof of any wrong-doing on your part and was never worthy of any response since you have never entered into any contract with the third party.

However you are concerned that the third party in question has now brought the University into it instead of simply starting a Small Claim if they believe they have a case.

As the alleged debt is denied, you wish to discuss the issue of your continued parking access with...{your line manager?} who you have copied into this email {along wth the HR Manager/Union?}. Clearly where the issue is in dispute it would be unacceptable to simply withdraw your parking rights so you trust this sanction will be put on hold indefinitely/until such time as 'Liberty Printers t/a Car Parking Partnership' prove their case in the County Court.





See what others say, this is my take on it.

This post has been edited by SchoolRunMum: Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 22:20
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emanresu
post Wed, 19 Sep 2012 - 05:55
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Karl I think you have the wrong end of the stick here.

Firstly you do not need to pay anything as stated multiple times above. What you do have to do is to remove your car from the campus - or pay over £1000 to keep your parking space.

The landowner appears to be at the end of its tether with your inability to control your car which you seem to have parked in places they would prefer you not to. English may not be your first language but I think you are bright enough to understand some of the simpler requests.

Not onto the other item of your agenda. Please feel free to spend some time in looking at criminal law with regards to whether asking for £1000 by calling it a "fine" is criminal. You might also want to wait until late October and include some of the kids who ask for a "penny for the guy" as clearly the guy a) did not need it and b) could not have communicated its need to said children.

Beginning to sound like Sheldon Cooper here wink.gif

This post has been edited by emanresu: Wed, 19 Sep 2012 - 05:55


--------------------
Where there is a claim - there is a counterclaim.
Are Parking companies misusing your personal data or interfering with your lease? Counterclaims are only £25. Makes them sit up and take notice. For leaseholds, join in the Managing agents too. Since the purpose of these claims is to frighten you, give them something to be frightened of.
Subject Access Requests to the DVLA?Find out who accessed your data and when. Try SubjectAccess.Requests@dvla.gsi.gov.uk. [Apologies if it does not work]
Double Dip / ANPR FaultsThe BPA Report on ANPR Double Dips is here. Ideal case for a counterclaim (see above).
Daily Court List. See who is doing what and where here
Printing and posting Witness Statements. Easy and cheap way DoxDirect
What is court like. A District Judge's view
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hcandersen
post Wed, 19 Sep 2012 - 06:34
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As you work in an academic field, let's look at this methodically.

Please find the university's "Car Parking Policy" and post it here. Also, any other communication between you and the uni/third party, including unilateral notices.

The letter implies that:
1. The uni have the right to revoke any parking privileges which you have, and
2. This may be invoked should you breach conditions of the uni's car parking policy, and
3. You're subject to this policy, and
4. You've breached it.

You've not got long.


HCA
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Umtwebby
post Wed, 19 Sep 2012 - 08:56
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QUOTE (Karl.H @ Tue, 18 Sep 2012 - 23:03) *
OK, unwarranted rather than unreasonable. However, in what way is it justified for them to demand that I make a payment to a third party that I've never entered into a contract with?
Also, the demand was not made with a threat of court action, it was made with the threat of the loss of parking rights.


To put it simply, they believe you owe the money and you don't. If that was ever held to be an unwarranted demand then no-one would ever be able to chase for a debt whether it was a valid debt or otherwise and every debt collection company would cease to exist.

I am not saying you should pay but forget the blackmail as there are other avenues open to you.

This post has been edited by Umtwebby: Wed, 19 Sep 2012 - 08:57
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Karl.H
post Wed, 19 Sep 2012 - 17:47
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I am exploring other avenues, as suggested by SchoolRunMum and Alexis (attached) - thanks.

However, I don't think the blackmail angle should be dismissed so easily. This is a large corporation with a legal dept staffed by lawyers who should know better than to make the kind of unwarranted demand and threat that they did. It couldn't be claimed that it was a solitary member of staff acting alone out of ignorance. All our interactions with each other are civil up until the point someone breaks the law, then it's a crimnal matter. I think they have overstepped the boundary between civil and criminal action against me.
I have no particular desire to involve the police or see anyone arrested, etc, and presumably the individuals involved have the protection, up to a point, of being in a corporation. It is a good angle for possibly getting them to reconsider how they go about enforcing their parking policy, though. I have no particular grievance with the policy itself, just the manner in which they are attempting to enforce it. There are any number of other ways that they could have decided to go about enforcing the policy besides bringing in a third party to demand money from us, which is essentially racketeering. That is utterly disgusting and totally unacceptable as far as I'm concerned. Some staff at this institute of higher learning are simply acting like a bunch of thugs.

I'm looking into involving the unions, although I'm not part of one myself but they may still be interested in the dispute as it affects everyone that works for the uni. I was told that a load of staff at one of the university libraries are up in arms about it on the basis that the notices left on our windscreens resemble too closely the supposed 'official' council ones.

This post has been edited by Karl.H: Wed, 19 Sep 2012 - 18:08
Attached File(s)
Attached File  VPA_Letter_September_2012___Response_2012_09_18_Edit.pdf ( 14.69K ) Number of downloads: 203
Attached File  VPA_Letter_September_2012___Response_2012_09_19_Edit.pdf ( 15.89K ) Number of downloads: 178
 
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