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Vehicle Control Services, County Court Claim Form issued 18 April
flabbergasted
post Wed, 9 May 2018 - 21:52
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Hi All,

We received an ANPR Parking Charge Notice in the post back in July last year. It was showing the time of car entering and leaving carpark, 20 minutes without displaying a ticket. At the time we couldn't even work out what carpark it was, as in their correspondence it reads: Albert Street Birmingham B5 5JH. The postcode is showing the address to be Park Street, not Albert Street. So we ignored their letters. Unfortunately, only kept the Letter Before Claim and all the subsequent ones: County Court Claim form (which was aknowledged in the 14 days) and Detailed Particulars. In Detailed Particulars there are no pictures nor real details of the alleged contravention, except for:
"The Defendant s been issued with a CN for failure to adhere to the advertised T&C s at a development(s) known as Albert Street B5 5JH on June 3 2017. The offer advertised by way of the T&Cs was accepted by conduct." etc signed by Jake Burgess

So, it's now down to writing a defence and prepare for the courts. As June 3rd was Saturday, the driver was only there looking to park and left without parking.
Any suggestions on what to focus on in the defence, much appreciated.
To add, County Court Claim Form was issued 18th April 2018.

Thank you all

This post has been edited by flabbergasted: Wed, 9 May 2018 - 22:52
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The Rookie
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 03:52
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First step, NOW is to write to VCS and require a copy of all correspondence they have sent you (in line with Civil Procedure Rules, its going to be too late really for your defence I suspect.

Failing to engage at all was a very bad idea I'm afraid, a Judge may decide that was unreasonable and award costs against you even if you win, that said VCS aren't in the habit of actually taking cases all the way to a hearing where there is a robust defence, they use the court claim as their final debt collection letter.

Start looking for recent VCS/CEL (Civil Enforcement Limited) defences on here (use search) and base your defence on them, this is why you really needed a copy of the first invoice, however your defence will include for sure
1/ Keeper liability - they are taking you as keeper to court as they don't know the driver ID (and you will NOT be telling them), but their paperwork is never complaint with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (known as PoFA) so the keeper has no liability, only the driver - Their standard court claim usually mentions both as they don't want to show their hand that they are claiming against the keeper who has no liability so that's another point you add, they don't even know why they are taking action against YOU.
2/ Standing - Do VCS have the standing to operate in the car park and take the action they are, the answer is very likely a 'conditional no', the contract the landholder has is with a secure front company and VCS do the enforcement but are a disposable name if need be.
3/ Signage (can you go check it and get photos) - It's often poor and not obvious enough to create a contract
4/ Contract - usually the VCS signage is not adequate to create a contract
5/ 'Unconscionable under the circumstances' - whatever the circumstances are you seek to differentiate them from the ruling in 'Parking Eye v Beavis' whee the supreme court made a number of salient observations about what would NOT be unconscionable, failing to adhere to those makes them unconscionable.
6/ Amount claimed - PoFA limits any claim against the keeper to the original contract amount, to which they can add £25 claim fees and UP TO £50 legal fees (but they would have to prove they were incurred, as they use a robo claim model which just inserts defendants detail and location then they haven't incurred £50 in costs anyway) meaning £175, of course they are greedy and want to maximise return so their usual claim is for circa £370 including lots of made up amounts which should never stand a judges scrutiny.


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ostell
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 06:30
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And sometimes the signage creates an alleged contract with a company called Excel but VCS, a separate legal entity, are claiming the money. Get the signs.
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The Rookie
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 06:45
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Interestingly if you go to parkopedia there is an Excel car park that is listed as Albert Street but is actually on a road named by google maps as Freemason street, maybe that matches the postcode given.

https://en.parkopedia.co.uk/parking/carpark...ng=201805101430
Second one down, shows as an unamed road off Park Street. Reviews are as good as one would expect for Excel........

(NCP run the multi story that is actually on Albert street, entry off High street).

So not only was the road name probably wrong but it would appear to be Excel and not VCS, so the driver could have no contract with VCS, signage is clearly Excel and NOT VCS. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.4797211,-...3312!8i6656

So no contract with VCS, and a PoFA failure (among their normal ones) that they don't even know where the car park is!

This post has been edited by The Rookie: Thu, 10 May 2018 - 06:53


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There is no such thing as a law abiding motorist, just those who have been scammed and those yet to be scammed!

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Dwaynedouglas
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 07:05
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Someone else has had issues here too (in fact several have), but a recent one is here:

http://forums.pepipoo.com/index.php?showto...p;#entry1380276

There may be some useful information there for you - in particular SRM.


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I'm not a lawyer or legally trained, my opinion is based on my experience - follow at your own risk.
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flabbergasted
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 07:58
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Thank you so much for your prompt responses.
A thank you and a question to The Rookie, why would it be too late for the defence now? I read someplace that we have 33 days from the date of issue of the Court claim, so that leaves us with 10 days? Or indeed only 5 if 28. Also, is omitting defence at this stage advisable? Can we not ask VCS for documents AND send in our defence?

As for the signage, should they even make a difference either way if the driver never actually parked, no tickets purchased therefor no contract made? 20 min stay on PC can fall under the grace period, no? 10 min for entry + 10 min to exit?
I do feel the postcode in their correspondence is misleading as we still don't know which carpark are they referring to.
We went to check the carpark that is on online forums referred to as Albert Street and on their signs it's mostly Excel but on closer inspection, in small lettering it reads, "you agree to pay VCS interests and any additional costs" and also, "by parking on this private car park you are entering into a contract with VCS".
Thx Dwaynedouglas , I have read through that post as it is indeed similar to mine.

I'm only new here so bear with me for struggling with tech commands like quoting comments I'm responding to...

This post has been edited by flabbergasted: Thu, 10 May 2018 - 08:15
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kommando
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 08:05
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Provided the claim was acknowledged with the 14 days and the defence was blank then you get the 33 days. You must file a defence even with no reply from VCS or they can apply for default judgement. Best get started on the defence now and assume they reply too late.
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flabbergasted
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 08:25
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QUOTE (kommando @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 09:05) *
Provided the claim was acknowledged with the 14 days and the defence was blank then you get the 33 days. You must file a defence even with no reply from VCS or they can apply for default judgement. Best get started on the defence now and assume they reply too late.


Thank you kommando. Yes the claim was aknowledged within 14 days and left blank (we ticked the box with, will be defended in full). I can only assume VCS won't be responding to the request in a hurry if at all.
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flabbergasted
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 08:54
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 07:45) *
Interestingly if you go to parkopedia there is an Excel car park that is listed as Albert Street but is actually on a road named by google maps as Freemason street, maybe that matches the postcode given.

https://en.parkopedia.co.uk/parking/carpark...ng=201805101430
Second one down, shows as an unamed road off Park Street. Reviews are as good as one would expect for Excel........

(NCP run the multi story that is actually on Albert street, entry off High street).

So not only was the road name probably wrong but it would appear to be Excel and not VCS, so the driver could have no contract with VCS, signage is clearly Excel and NOT VCS. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.4797211,-...3312!8i6656

So no contract with VCS, and a PoFA failure (among their normal ones) that they don't even know where the car park is!


Hi Rookie, the postcode on our parking charge is B5 5JH which comes up as Park Street (no mention of Park St on their letters). Sounds to me they are misleading on purpose. I mean, look it worked on us... When we first received the letter we couldn't work out what car park nor who was driving, as it was Saturday at the time we can only assume the driver was looking to park, going in and out the carpark the 20 min they are chasing us for.
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The Rookie
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 08:57
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QUOTE (flabbergasted @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 08:58) *
Thank you so much for your prompt responses.
A thank you and a question to The Rookie, why would it be too late for the defence now?

I think you misread it
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 04:52) *
First step, NOW is to write to VCS and require a copy of all correspondence they have sent you (in line with Civil Procedure Rules, its going to be too late really for your defence I suspect).

The copy of the correspondence will probably arrive too late for you to use in the construction of your defence.


--------------------
There is no such thing as a law abiding motorist, just those who have been scammed and those yet to be scammed!

S172's
Rookies 1-0 Kent

Council PCN's
Rookies 1-0 Warwick
Rookies 1-0 Birmingham

PPC PCN's
Rookies 8-0 PPC's
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Redivi
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 09:06
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Yes

Give VCS 7 days to send the information but write the defence based on what you already know

If the information doesn't arrive, add where appropriate that the Claimant has been asked to provide the information but ignored the request

Can VCS recover the payment if the particulars of claim fail to plead the Contracts (Rights of Third parties) Act 1999 ?
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flabbergasted
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 09:27
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 09:57) *
QUOTE (flabbergasted @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 08:58) *
Thank you so much for your prompt responses.
A thank you and a question to The Rookie, why would it be too late for the defence now?

I think you misread it
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 04:52) *
First step, NOW is to write to VCS and require a copy of all correspondence they have sent you (in line with Civil Procedure Rules, its going to be too late really for your defence I suspect).

The copy of the correspondence will probably arrive too late for you to use in the construction of your defence.


Ah yes. Sorry, my bad. I get it now.
Think our defence will focus on 10+10 min grace period. We will look into the signage to AlbertStreet carpark, which is the one next to Moor street train station and doesn't refer to the postcode in their letters but our assumption is that's the one they refer to?! Mind boggling or what lol surely the address on PC should be clearly stated to be taken seriously.
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ostell
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 09:58
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Their particulars of Claim is embarrassing in its lack of detail

You should not have to assume anything for the case. If it's not clear then say so in your defence and say you cannot determine the exact location of the alleged breach, whatever it was, so makes it difficult to defend.

They have not said what breach of the T & C's is alleged to have been broken.

If the signage is Excel in big readable characters then that is who the contract is with.
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Redivi
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 10:08
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Think our defence will focus on 10+10 min grace period

That's guaranteed to lose

You're asking a court to believe that :

1 You entered the car park and took ten minutes to read the signs before deciding to leave
2 Having decided to leave, it took you another ten minutes

Focus on the signs, who offered the contract, the non-existence of the contract, and the legal capacity of both Excel and VCS including who could issue parking notices

This case raises some interesting issues, one of which is perverse

Excel manages the car park
Even if the sign says that payment of the parking notice will be to VCS, that doesn't automatically grant VCS the authority to issue parking notices

Excel's Code of Practice requires that the land-owner grants Excel the authority to take legal action
If it doesn't have the authority, the instruction on the sign that parking charges are owed to VCS would appear to grant a legal capacity to a sister company that it doesn't have itself
This anomaly may be covered in the Contracts (Rights of Third parties) Act 1999 as a defence
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The Rookie
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 10:16
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QUOTE (flabbergasted @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 10:27) *
Think our defence will focus on 10+10 min grace period.


Yeah I wrote this for the fun of it, not because I think its good advice or has a better chance of succeeding.
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 04:52) *
1/ Keeper liability - they are taking you as keeper to court as they don't know the driver ID (and you will NOT be telling them), but their paperwork is never complaint with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (known as PoFA) so the keeper has no liability, only the driver - Their standard court claim usually mentions both as they don't want to show their hand that they are claiming against the keeper who has no liability so that's another point you add, they don't even know why they are taking action against YOU.
2/ Standing - Do VCS have the standing to operate in the car park and take the action they are, the answer is very likely a 'conditional no', the contract the landholder has is with a secure front company and VCS do the enforcement but are a disposable name if need be.
3/ Signage (can you go check it and get photos) - It's often poor and not obvious enough to create a contract
4/ Contract - usually the VCS signage is not adequate to create a contract
5/ 'Unconscionable under the circumstances' - whatever the circumstances are you seek to differentiate them from the ruling in 'Parking Eye v Beavis' whee the supreme court made a number of salient observations about what would NOT be unconscionable, failing to adhere to those makes them unconscionable.
6/ Amount claimed - PoFA limits any claim against the keeper to the original contract amount, to which they can add £25 claim fees and UP TO £50 legal fees (but they would have to prove they were incurred, as they use a robo claim model which just inserts defendants detail and location then they haven't incurred £50 in costs anyway) meaning £175, of course they are greedy and want to maximise return so their usual claim is for circa £370 including lots of made up amounts which should never stand a judges scrutiny.



--------------------
There is no such thing as a law abiding motorist, just those who have been scammed and those yet to be scammed!

S172's
Rookies 1-0 Kent

Council PCN's
Rookies 1-0 Warwick
Rookies 1-0 Birmingham

PPC PCN's
Rookies 8-0 PPC's
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flabbergasted
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 13:21
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Theres a lot to take in and process here smile.gif on top of it being my first ever Private carpark parking challenge.

I have attached copy of the claim Particulars, which to me read like a whole load of empty verbiage. I wouldnt class it as "particulars". So on top of their address of contravention being as vague and misleading as it is, we still dont know much about it.
Is there a sample of defence that would fit my case, someplace on Pepipoo that i can look at and mull over?
Thx again to everyone for such kind informative and quick responsive
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The Rookie
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 14:17
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As per my first post, this is a robo claim, the particulars are identical to EVERY other claim they make. The objective is to scare you into paying not to actually take it to a court hearing!


--------------------
There is no such thing as a law abiding motorist, just those who have been scammed and those yet to be scammed!

S172's
Rookies 1-0 Kent

Council PCN's
Rookies 1-0 Warwick
Rookies 1-0 Birmingham

PPC PCN's
Rookies 8-0 PPC's
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flabbergasted
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 15:59
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 15:17) *
As per my first post, this is a robo claim, the particulars are identical to EVERY other claim they make. The objective is to scare you into paying not to actually take it to a court hearing!


So true. Its all shambles but still they have the audacity to demand £150+
Is it possible that after i present my defence, they wont actually take me to court? Or with their county court claim form already out, my facing the actual court next is inevitable?
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Jlc
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 16:05
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QUOTE (flabbergasted @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 16:59) *
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Thu, 10 May 2018 - 15:17) *
As per my first post, this is a robo claim, the particulars are identical to EVERY other claim they make. The objective is to scare you into paying not to actually take it to a court hearing!


So true. Its all shambles but still they have the audacity to demand £150+
Is it possible that after i present my defence, they wont actually take me to court? Or with their county court claim form already out, my facing the actual court next is inevitable?

They may discontinue but it's not unusual for them to go all the way even staring at the face of defeat. Small claims can be a lottery for both sides...


--------------------
RK=Registered Keeper, OP=Original Poster (You!), CoFP=Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty, NtK=Notice to Keeper, NtD=Notice to Driver
PoFA=Protection of Freedoms Act, SAC=Safety Awareness Course, NIP=Notice of Intended Prosecution, ADR=Alternative Dispute Resolution
PPC=Private Parking Company, LBCCC=Letter Before County Court Claim, PII=Personally Identifiable Information

Private Parking - remember, they just want your money and will say almost anything to get it.
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flabbergasted
post Thu, 10 May 2018 - 18:01
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So as suggested, onto the first step: write to VCS and require a copy of all correspondence they have sent to us.

How to formulate such letter to sound "legally correct" etc? Also, do I send it in post to VCS address as per claim form? With proof of postage from postoffice.

Thx
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