Part of my job involves representing parties in Small Claims. In addition, I also represent parties in other types of hearings in the County Court.
In one case, I was instructed by a national car parking company to represent them at a Small Claim in Aberystwyth. The circumstances were typical in that a customer had driven their car into the car park, being caught on camera doing so. Sometime later, in this case, 40 minutes, they exited the car park. It was claimed that no ticket was bought and so the parking company issued a penalty charge notice for £60.00. This was payable within 14 days and if not paid, it would increase to £100.00.
The customer did not pay, ignoring it. It is not known why it was ignored but I realise that there are many forums including Facebook groups that tell people to ignore them as they are not legally enforceable. They are enforceable.
The parking company issued proceedings for their £100, plus interest, plus an additional £60.00 charge. Now in this case, probably like many others, the parking company’s claim for £60.00 was for ‘estimated debt recovery costs.’ The parking signs at the location stated the following:
“Parking Charge Notice requiring you to pay any unpaid parking charges, together with an additional amount representing an estimate of the additional expenses we will incur as a result of your non-compliance”
No further detail was given on the sign. This is not unusual because how can you tell how much costs you are going to incur in recovering a debt? However, by the time the claim came to Court, you would expect the Claimant to know how much their debt recovery costs are. In this case, the Claimant did not know. In fact, in their witness evidence, they maintained the claim for £60.00 basing it on an estimate of their debt recovery costs. This was foolish.
The law surrounding the vast majority of civil claims is that the Claimant has the burden of proving their claim. Debt recovery costs are something that can be proven because no doubt, they are in the past. In this case, the parking company did not. They offered no evidence of the costs incurred in recovering the debt and therefore the Judge had no hesitation to disallow the claim for the additional £60.00.
If you are a Claimant in any court or legal action, then most of the time, you have to prove your claim. If you want to claim a sum of money, you must show evidence of how that sum has come about. Estimates, especially at a final hearing or Trial will not normally be enough. I say ‘not normally’ because there are rare cases where they may be enough, i.e. in cases where there is property damage and there is an estimate to fix the property (like a repair estimate for a car).
The law is complex. It applies to everyone whether you are represented or not. Even the big companies get it wrong. So, if you require help with any claims, whether they are small claims or not, get in touch and we can put you on the right path.
Any questions or support with the above please email us at: [email protected] or phone 0151 230 8931.