apoca

My client was a bit surprised to get this parking fine “Notice” from APCOA in the post.

Firstly, the only place she parked on 14/03/2016 at the relevant time was at her work. Secondly, she still doesn’t have any idea where “Falcon Drive” is anyway.

She was fuming. To top it off, the notice, while dated 6th May, arrived by first class post on 27 May.

The temptation was to write to APCOA and to explain how it couldn’t have been her car and to engage in their “appeal” process. The other temptation was to ignore the letter.

Is this a valid notice?

Remembering that it is for a claimant to prove his assertions, my first concern was whether this “notice” (I’d call it an “invoice”) was even valid.

As this was a parking notice from a private company, I checked to see if APCOA had followed the proper procedure as set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act, 2012.

The notice was defective for three reasons 

Reason 1: As per the Protection of Freedoms Act, the relevant period is 56 days from the date of the alleged parking. APCOA alleged that the parking took place on 14 March. The notice therefore needed to be delivered, in my submission, no later than 9 May. In this case, it was delivered on 27 May, and therefore was well out of time;

Reason 2: Even if the county court were to find that the notice was in time, APCOA failed, in this case, to state where “Falcon Drive” is as they did not bother to include the relevant post code or to even state the relevant city or town where the alleged parking took place;

Reason 3: There was no evidence in this case that the Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) was accurately recorded.

Rather than ignoring the letter and risking that the notice could spiral out of control, my view, as per usual, was to kill the game off in the first half by responding as per above immediately. Then, if it were to go to court, my client could show she had done everything possible to avoid court proceedings.

She therefore sent her response by Special Delivery as it requires a signature on receipt and it was guaranteed delivered the next day.

APCOA dropped the case – and still didn’t get it right

Bizarrely, while they addressed the “To” element of their letter correctly, and correctly noted the VRN, they wrote “Dear [Completely Different Name]”…

APCOA’s letter said:

We are happy to confirm that we have cancelled the above mentioned Parking Charge Notice.

They also said:

Please retain this letter as proof of cancellation, should you need it in the future. 

I suggested keeping that letter for six years, together with the letter she sent and the Royal Mail’s proof of delivery and signature print-out.

Just in case further mistakes are made.

How could a parking ticket spiral out of control?

One way is by ignoring it.

I suspect left unchallenged, APCOA’s next move would have been to file and serve court proceedings for recovery of the “debt”.

They could wait years before filing a county court claim. By then, you may have completely forgotten what you were doing and where your car was parked on that particular day – or the reason why you say the notice was defective.

Nobody needs a county court judgment (CCJ) against their name – or even the threat of one.

That’s why I first look to whether they have complied with the rules – and call them out where they haven’t.

NB

I am amazed at just how little information private companies require to access the government’s DVLA database. I suspect a police officer attempting to interrogate the DVLA database in similar circumstances would be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

NBB

The above information is posted for information purposes only and is not legal advice. As no two cases are exactly the same, it is important to obtain advice on your particular set of circumstances.

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