Protection of Freedoms – Campaign

Parking Cowboys has been contacted by [names] who have long fought against the practices of the private parking industry. They have asked us to help raise the profile of a campaign they have started with respect to the Protection of Freedoms Act. In short, they are concerned that figures provided by the British Parking Association to provide justification for the introduction of it were massively incorrect.

The below is a template of a letter that they would ask you to read and send on to your local MP:

Dear [MP’s name]

Ref: Protection of Freedoms Act, Section 56, registered keeper liability for private parking tickets.

As you will be aware, the law as it stands is that the only person who is (potentially) liable for parking tickets issued on private land is the actual driver at the time (because it’s civil – contract law only)

The British Parking Association (BPA) have for years lobbied long and hard for a change in the law to make the registered keeper liable.

This is a momentous change because that would make an innocent and totally unconnected third party person (the registered keeper) liable for a civil contract entered into by another person (the driver). This is contrary to centuries of established civil contract law.

The Government recently passed the Protection of Freedoms Act under which (Section 56) the registered keeper will become liable for such private parking tickets as from the 1st October 2012.

To justify granting ‘registered keeper’ liability the DVLA (on behalf of the DfT) had to produce an ‘Impact Assessment’ for the Ministry of Justice on the implications of such a change (ref; IA DfT 00079)

A critical section of that ‘Impact Assessment’ was the reference to the sheer volume of parking tickets taken through the small claims court each year by members of the British Parking Association.

The BPA told the DVLA that their members took between 2-5% of all private parking tickets issued annually to court each year.

The DVLA converted that 2-5% percentage into the numeric range of 36,000 – 90,000 cases based on the 1.8 million private parking tickets issued annually by BPA members

The DVLA then reproduced those figures in the ‘Impact Assessment’ and made the argument that this was a huge burden on the small claims courts and caused by more and more people denying that they were the driver. The proposed solution to this apparent problem was by making the registered keeper liable as this would reduce this burden from the small claims courts.

The BPA’s 2-5% claim and the DVLA’s numeric range of 36,000 to 90,000 cases were both then incorporated into the ‘Impact Assessment’ as part of the evidence base used to justify registered keeper liability.

The BPA’s figures were accepted by the DVLA, the DfT the MOJ and by the Government. Registered keeper liability became law on the back of those figures.

Unfortunately, a recent Freedom of Information request (Ref MOJ 75999) revealed that in the last year British Parking Association members only applied for 845 cases in the small claims court and of those only 49 went to an actual contested hearing in front of a District Judge.

The ‘Impact Assessment’ and registered keeper liability were based on claimed figures of between 36,000 and 90,000 when in reality it was a grand total of 49 contested cases.

The BPA have now said that their figures were an informal estimate informally given to the DfT and it was for the Government to check those figures if they wished to use them in the ‘Impact Assessment’

It is however my belief and understanding that the BPA based the claim of 2-5% on information from their members, certainly that is what the BPA apparently told the DVLA.

In summary, the change in the law to make the registered keeper liable for private parking tickets has been passed on misleading information.

As the misleading information was provided by the BPA and the BPA remain a Government Department ‘Accredited Trade Association’ I would be grateful if you could tell me what action you intend taking now that this matter has been brought to your attention.

At the very least, the BPA should be required to immediately disclose the detail and data surrounding the information received from its members which resulted in the misleading figures being produced and incorporated into the evidence base of the ‘Impact assessment’. This is absolutely essential because if the BPA is to remain a Government trusted and sponsored ATA whose members are allowed to access DVLA data, then it must demonstrate that it operates in an honest and ethical manner and with ‘clean hands’. Simple explanations offered by or on behalf of the BPA over these figures will not be sufficient, the actual data obtained from the BPA members must be disclosed and independently scrutinised.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name]

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