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DVLA should stop selling drivers’ data to ParkingEye

[7 Mar 2014] We’ve called for a ban on the sale of motorists’ data to the UK’s biggest private-parking company, ParkingEye, after the county courts threw out a string of cases it had brought against drivers for supposed breach of contract.

ParkingEye had claimed that drivers who parked at sites it oversees had overstayed the time allowed. But in such contract-law cases, warning signs must be clear and the damages claimed must not exceed the loss suffered – there must not be any penalty or fine. Some county courts have found that Parking Eye lacks proper authority to bring a claim (when acting as a mere agent for the landowner) or its claim exceeds any loss it has genuinely suffered or its warning signs are unclear.

By the end of the current financial year, ParkingEye will have bought details of 800,000 drivers at £2.50 from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), netting the government body £2million. This will enable ParkingEye to chase the drivers for up to £100 a time, which could bring the company £60–80million.

In a formal complaint to the DVLA, we pointed out that, when ParkingEye had sought to justify its charges as being a ‘genuine pre-estimate of loss’ under contract law, it had lost numerous cases in the courts and at the Parking on Private Land Appeals Service (Popla). The company had also lost cases where judges found its signs ambiguous.

Our complaint suggested to the DVLA that ParkingEye therefore no longer had ‘reasonable cause’ to obtain motorists' names and addresses, so the DVLA should not release the data. The complaint is now being examined by the DVLA.

You can click here to download one judgment (ParkingEye v Collins-Daniel, 2014) in which the judge ridiculed the language of a sign setting out ParkingEye’s contract. There are sharp exchanges about meaning and punctuation between the judge and ParkingEye’s advocate. [cont]

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