The charges are for £20 (discounted to £10), but by bouncing through various debt collectors the charge is artificially inflated to £128. Wright Hassall then add on court fees and solicitor filing charges and file a charge on instruction of ZZPS.
Parking Charge £20
Notice to keeper fee £24
Indigo administration fee £12
ZZPS administration fee £36
Wright Hassall administration fee £36
Three of those cases have now reached the hearing stage. They are shortly scheduled for a 3 day hearing to fully explore the issues. Another 70 odd cases have agreed to be bound by the outcome of this test hearing.
There are another £100,000 worth of unpaid parking charges at this location waiting on the case.
Indigo recently filed a Case Management directions to move these claims from the small claims track to the multi-track. This would have serious costs implications for the three defendants. Instead of having no liability for solicitors costs the three defendants would be jointly and severally liable. This would of course be manifestly unfair.
The DJ rejected the motion and Wright Hassall appealed. The appeal was held on 06/07/2017 in Swansea in front of HHJ Vosper QC.
Due to the short notice, only one of the defendants was able to attend. He was represented by John Wilkie, with paperwork provided by Bargepole.
The claimant was represented by Ryan Hocking. Ironically, Mr Hocking previously acted for Mr Beavis in the ParkingEye v Beavis case.
HHJ Vosper's judgment was that:
1) The DJ properly considered all of the factors of the case before retaining it on the Small Claims Track.
2) Consolidation would not be an option, as, of the 78 defendants known, 72 (the TEPAG Group) would withdraw from that due to costs implications/
3) Allocation without consolidation would also not be an option, due to the unfairness of Multi-Track costs on the three defendants who expected, reasonably, the costs protection of Small Claims Track.
4) Sharing costs across the 3 defendants is not feasible - the amounts involved in seeking representation exceed the amounts of the claims.
5) The Judge did not err in either fact or law in making what, in the opinion of the HHJ was an order which offers the best to all parties.
6) If the Claimant is shown to have an error in the way it operates its business at UHW, well, it can fix that - the court need not concern itself with the business consequences of its judgments.
No orders as to costs.
Indigo filed a schedule of costs for the appeal hearing totalling over £7,000. At this rate they will be running up something like £28,000 after the 3 days hearing.
They will need to issue another 1,400 £20 charges to recoup this amount.
So to summarise in laymans terms, Wright Hassall have blown £7,000 of Indigo's money for no effect.
So the trial goes ahead as planned in Cardiff on the small claims track.
Three day hearing
The Prankster does not know the defence points advanced for the hearing. However, he points out that the signage clearly fails the tests laid out by the supreme court in the case of ParkingEye v Beavis. The charge of £20 is hidden in the small print, as compared to the signage in the Beavis case where the £85 charge was clearly visible. Here are the signs for comparison.
It is obvious to everyone that ParkingEye's parking charge is £85. The Prankster defys anyone to work out the Indigo parking charge without a magnifying glass.
As this fails the Beavis test, this means in turn that the charge is an unfair consumer charge and fails the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Additionally, the charges lumped on top of the £20 charge were not endorsed by the Supreme Court - they only allowed the initial parking charge.
In the case of ParkingEye v Somerfield stores, HHJ Hegarty QC found the initial parking charge of £75 valid, but the debt collection extras of £60 were not.
It seems to me that, in the present case, it would be difficult for ParkingEye to justify, as against any motorist, a claim for payment of the enhanced sum of £135 if the motorist took the point that the additional £60 over and above the original figure of £75 constituted a penalty. It might be possible for ParkingEye to show that the additional administrative costs involved were substantial, though I very much doubt whether they would be able to justify this very large increase on that basis. On the face of it, it seems to me that the predominant contractual function of this additional payment must have been to deter the motorist from breaking his contractual obligation to pay the basic charge of £75 within the time specified, rather than to compensate ParkingEye for late payment.
Applying the formula adopted by Colman J. in the Lordsvale case, therefore, the additional £60 would appear to be penal in nature; and it is well established that, in those circumstances, it cannot be recovered, though the other party would have at least a theoretical right to damages for breach of the primary obligation.
On the face of it it would therefore appeal that the correct application of the current case law would mean that the parking charges are not valid. To fix this, Indigo would need to alter the signage so that it is fair to the consumer, and the parking charges are shown in a large font.
They would also need to stop artificially inflating the charges by adding on bogus amounts.
However, fixing the signs will not fix the fundamental problem that the car park does not appear to be working. If Indigo are issuing so many charges, this is a clear sign that the car park is not being managed properly. The health authority need to provide a solution to their staff which allows them to get to work without running the risk of huge portions of their wages being deducted for parking charges.
The Parking Prankster