University Hospital of Wales staff forced to pay £26,000 in legal fees over parking tickets

It is with some regret that we found ourselves reading this newspaper report this morning. The Cardiff Indigo case has been well-reported as a significant loss for the staff of UHW, and it is both a massive loss and a travesty of justice.

Private Parking Appeals entirely supports the doctors and nurses who are being scammed by Indigo Park Services (UK) Ltd at Cardiff Hath Vale Hospital (University Hospital Wales).

John Wilkie, our Head of Legal, was the representative of one of the parties involved in the so-called “Lead Case”, as the person involved was a customer of the company. He had previously attended the initial hearing of our customer’s case, the Case Management Hearing and the Appeal, by Indigo, of the matter being listed as a small claim.

It was clear that, from the CMH onward, that Indigo Parking was seeking to lump the costs for this case onto the three “Lead” Defendants, and were desperately looking for an excuse to do so. Indeed, the costs schedules served at every stage showed that Indigo were throwing thousands f pounds against these three defendants. Indeed, Ryan Hocking, of Hardwicke Chambers, London, states so at the Appeal hearing, and also said “Your company is costing our clients thousands and hurting their business”. It is of note that their instructions, although apparently from Indigo, were filtered through ZZPS, a well known unregulated debt collector who we deal with daily.

Indigo has claimed, in their press release (since deleted) about this hearing, “The recent court hearing related to three persistent offenders, who have accumulated in excess of 100 PCNs between them since April 2016.” This is a lie, a falsehood a deception. This case involved three individuals, two of whom were nurses and one who was simply the keeper of a vehicle – his wife works at the hospital, and was the driver of the vehicle. It also did not involved over 100 tickets – the defendants had been taken to court, for 4, 4 and 1 ticket respectively. Now, in the maths taught in England and Wales, 4+4+1 is 9, not over 100. Indigo, like their solicitors, are prepared to lie to defend the indefensible.

Wright Hassall, the solicitors firm involved, are well known for their incompetence. It has been reported, many times, by the Parking Prankster and others, that Wright Hassall are incapable of dealing fairly with motorists. For a period, they ran the POPLA appeals system dealing only with appeals stayed pending Beavis. On a number of occasions, this involved Indigo cases – so Wright Hassall was making judgments of fact about Indigo cases whilst also making money from pursuing them to court. This is a breach of the SRA Code of Practice, and may even be illegal.

During the hearing of this case, as reported by the Parking Prankster at the time, the witnesses for the claimant lied, obfuscated, and deliberately sought to mislead the court. Witnesses were produced who do not exist, and ultimately, the Judge found for the Claimant on all points – which is unsurprising since District Judge Elizabeth Coates used to be Senior Counsel for the NHS in Wales, a point that should have been sufficient to recuse her from her role as the Judge hearing the case.

Much has been made, on MSE, Pepipoo and elsewhere, of the costs order that was allegedly made against John Wilkie, our Company Secretary. And we would now like to take the opportunity to put the record straight.

  1. As soon as it was made clear that Indigo would be seeking a costs order from John Wilkie, he recognised that this meant there was now a conflict of interest between himself and his client, and retired from the case.
  2. As a matter of courtesy, Mr Wilkie provided Indigo’s counsel and solicitor with his address for service, and confirmed that he would not evade any orders simply due to being based in Scotland.
  3. As a matter of law, Mr Wilkie was not present as a party at any further hearings.
  4. Neither the Court, nor the Claimant has in any way sought to contact Mr Wilkie or serve any document on him about this matter since Friday 14 July 2017.
  5. Likewise, none of the 79 staff members affected by this costs order have contacted Mr Wilkie.

It is a basic tenet of law that a party is give the opportunity to defend itself or respond to any allegations against it. Mr Wilkie has never received notification that he was a party to these proceedings, and has never been pursued by the Claimant other than in their initial threat to do so before the court on 13 and 14 July 2017.

It is regrettable that not every court case can be won, and it is also regrettable that companies like Indigo, ZZPS and their ilk will lie and cheat to wring every penny out of the motorist, regardless of the damage this might do.

Private Parking Appeals remains committed to assisting our customers in fighting these unfair tickets, and supports the BPA position on the Parking (Code of Practice) Bill which would prevent unscrupulous companies like this from continuing their barely legal pursuit of these spurious charges.

Private Parking Appeals welcomes the comments of Indigo Park Services Ltd, ZZPS Ltd and the Defendants in this case, and will happily grant a right to reply for this post, however, as a company we stand by our comments, all of which are provably true and in the public interest.