Timing is everything
The most common reason for people getting a court judgment against them is not the lack of a defence, but a failure to appreciate there are timings that must be met or the court will come to a decision without hearing your side. This is not 'unfair' as the court has to treat everyone proportionately. Unless there is good reason e.g. the claim went to an old address, the court will assume you do not want to defend and award the case to the Claimant.
Here are the stages
|Days||Stage||Details||You need to|
|1 - 14||N1 Form||There is a time limit of 14 days to respond or the Claimant can apply for a default judgement.||Upload your copy of the form to the our portal, and advise if you have acknowledged or not. How to do it is here.|
|14 - 28||Defence||Prepare and send back a Defence in answer to the Particulars on the N1 Form or more detailed ones sent within a further 14 days.||Check our case database for (a) errors in process (b) site details for past claims (c) or occupiers/owners. Further checks with Land Registry and Local Councils. Process needs to be completed and defence submitted within 33 days to avoid default judgment.|
|28 - 56||Directions Questionnaire (DQ)||Complete this with details of when witnesses/representative may not be available. This is also the chance to opt for a paper hearing if the decision is not to attend court. See how to complete.||Once the DQ has been sent, the process moves to gathering the paperwork needed later. All court decisions are evidence-led. Gaps need to be identified and filled.|
|56 - 76||DVLA SAR||Ask the DVLA if and when the Keeper details were released||You use this at the Witness Statement stage if it is relevant to a case.|
|56 - 96||Further and Better particulars.||Ask the Claimant (the parking company) for all information they have on the event together with copies of paperwork and any photos they have of the vehicle.||Parts of their reply will be used for the Witness Statement stage. Evaluate and decide if an offer be made at this stage to avoid additional costs.|
|96||Notice of Transfer||This is simply the court telling you which local court they will be using. Sometimes it will give a hearing date but mostly not.||Wait for the Notice of Allocation|
|96||Notice of Allocation||This is a key document in that it will give the date for the hearing but the most important part is the date by which the Witness Statement(s) need to be exchanged with the Claimant and sent to the Court.||There are 3 dates on this document. The hearing date when the case will be heard. The date for documents to be exchanged and the date for paying the hearing fee. Often a claimant with a weak case will drop out prior to having to pay a hearing fee.|
|14 prior to the hearing||Witness Statement (WS)||All the information collected should be reviewed and a WS prepared using the paperwork in front of you. This is the basis of your defence as the judge can only consider the material in front of him. Expect the parking company not to send anything that will help the case.||Send the WS plus all the supporting information gathered (the 'pack') to both the court and the other side. Usually it's 14 days prior to the hearing or whatever the court has ordered.
The Claimant's pack should arrive a day or so later but will be chased if there is an unreasonable delay (possible sanction).
|Up to 3 days before the hearing||Skeleton Argument||Summary of both packs and areas of disagreement based on the Witness Statement(s).||Sent to the court and the other party 3 days before. List of costs incurred included.|