About this blog

Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Thursday 23 January 2020

Parking Ticket on Private Land: Escape for Keeper

No valid permit displayed on windscreen. No parking ticket purchased. Car parked for too long. Car not parked in a designated bay. For these and a multitude of other reasons, whoever controls the parking on private land and public car parks may try and clobber you with a parking charge. That's the polite way of referring to a penalty.

Perhaps the conditions for parking were clearly set out on 10,000 notices displayed on the land or in the park. Perhaps they were broken. But, say, though you were registered as the vehicle's keeper, you weren't the driver and were in Outer Mongolia  or Macclesfield at the relevant time? If, as will usually be the case, the parking control people don't have a clue on the identity of the offending driver, they are often in a position to clobber you as the registered keeper.

But there is one crucial thing they have to ensure is done before the registered keeper can be legally liable where the vehicle has been remotely photographed and they frequently slip up on this. It is to get the notice to keeper which they will send out, in the hands of the registered keeper within 14 days of the transgression. More often than not it will be posted to the keeper. However, when it is not received within that tight period of 14 days the keeper will have a cast iron defence to the charge and any county court claim which might be brought in an attempt to enforce payment. An appeal to the parking people ought to be successful.

The law to rely on is paragraph 9(5) of the fourth schedule to the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. And a very fine schedule it is.

Court Fee Refund Scheme Announced

Around eighteen months ago, the Ministry of Justice coughed that some litigants had been overcharged the court fees they were being made to pay for taking certain steps in civil and insolvency cases. I told you about it in this blog and and what to expect at -

On the basis that it is better late than never, the promised refund scheme was  announced a few days ago and is now up and running. If eligible, you can make your refund claim on a special form which you can access along with guidance at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-court-fee-refund  Interest on the amount refunded will be paid at the grand rate of 0.5%.

The relevant fees must have been paid between 22 April 2014 and 31 March 2018 and the most common overcharges are likely to have been on issuing  certain insolvency applications and asking for Court of Protection bills of costs to be assessed.

But in so far as the overcharge in issuing a county court claim for the stage 3 procedure under either of the two pre-action protocols for low-value personal injury cases is concerned, the refund scheme notably overlooks these. They are still being considered. Don't hold your breath.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Late Tax Return: Escaping Penalty

The deadline for putting in your tax return is 31 January 2020. You won't make it? Penalty, interest, grief?

Sleep tight.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Service Charges - Advance Demand Appeal Ruling

Your lease of residential premises probably entitles the landlord to require you to stump up cash in advance of carrying out major works. When assessing what is a reasonable advance sum, does the landlord have to take into account a cash contribution which some third party may be making. If, say, an insurer might be forking out for some of the work,  should this be ignored when your contribution is calculated?

The amount of the advance payment can be challenged before a tribunal on the basis that it is unreasonable under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. That says at section 19(2)

Where a service charge is payable before the relevant costs are incurred, no greater amount than is reasonable is so payable, and after the relevant costs have been incurred any necessary adjustment shall be made by repayment, reduction or subsequent charges or otherwise.

In the case of Avon Ground Rents Ltd v Cowley and others [2019] EWCA Civ 1827 which has just been before the Court of Appeal, there was the possibility of a payment by NHBC. It was not a certainty . It was, as I say, a possibility. In giving guidance on what significance the landlord should place on this possibility, the Court of Appeal ruled that flexibility in approach was required. Certainty of the third party payment was not necessary for it to be taken into account, it was held.  That would constrain the discretion of  tribunal which was deciding on a challenge to the amount of the advance demand when in reality what was required was a test which allowed account to be taken of all relevant matters and to those matters the appropriate wright would be attributed. 

So by ignoring a good chance of a third party payment, the landlord may well be in trouble.