So you have received a letter of demand from BW Legal? This page helps you understand your rights and options should you receive such a demand.
BW Legal is a debt collection company used by Excel Parking Services and Vehicle Control Services to send out demands for unpaid parking charge notices. Initially BW Legal simply sent out demands for payment and if the person didn’t pay then nothing further happened. However BW Legal have now begun taking some of these claims to court.
If you have received a demand from BW Legal, it is important to understand what sort of letter it is. If it is simply a letter of demand, it may be ignored the same way the driver must have ignored letters from the parking company in order to get this far. However, if it is a Letter Before Action then it is a different matter. A Letter Before Action is a formal letter from a solicitor notifying the recipient that the next step is court action. Upon receiving a Letter Before Action from BW Legal, it is important to make a decision on whether you are prepared to defend the matter in court. Parking Charge Notices are very defendable and there are many standard points of defence that can be used. You can prepare your own defence and there is need to hire lawyer. The defences are many and varied. e.g.
- The signage at the car park was inadequate and therefore no contract was entered into.
- The amount claims is a penalty and unenforceable
- The land was not relevant land under POFA
- The keeper as not the driver and the parking company has not complied with POFA.
However, some people are frightened to go to court, or don’t have the time to take a day off work to appear in court. Such people need to make a decision on receiving a LBA as to what they want to do. If you wish to avoid court action, then this is the time to try and settle the matter. If you are prepared to defend the matter, then you can reply to BW Legal letting them know you will be defending the matter, and then waiting for them to issue court papers. It is important to realise that the legal charges that BW Legal can impose on you are capped. For example, if it went to court and you lost, then the County Court rules limit the amount that BW Legal could charge for legal fees. The cap is in the vicinity of £100. This together with the original parking charge of £100 would make a total of £200 which would represent the worst case scenario.
The other thing to understand is that BW Legal cannot pursue every single claim. They simply don’t have the time and resources. After paying their legal staff, the court claims run at a loss. The parking companies (such as Excel Parking Services and Vehicle Control Services) only take a sample of claims to court, and publicize these on their websites so that people get scared and pay the claims out of simple fear.
PCN’s pre November 2012
This website has received reports that BW Legal are sending out demands for old Parking Charge Notices (pre November 2012). These PCN’s are not covered by the POFA 2012 legislation that was introduced in November 2012. This means that the parking company (and BW Legal) cannot hold the registered keeper liable for parking fine. They can only hold the driver liable. And neither the parking company, nor BW Legal, have any way of finding out who that driver was. The best course of action for private parking fines that were incurred pre POFA 2012, is to ignore all letters of demand.