Milton Keynes woman secures landmark victory for flat tenants in parking dispute

Laura Jopson

Laura Jopson

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A woman from Milton Keynes, with help from her Aylesbury solicitor, has succeeded in overturning a punitive fine imposed by a private parking firm, in a case which is bound to have implications for tenants of leasehold flats.

Laura Jopson, 29, of Trevithick Court, Wolverton Park Road, Milton Keynes had her fine dropped and received £2000 in costs in a ruling by Oxford County Court.

Judge Charles Harris QC found that private parking firm Home Guard Services (who trade as 14 Services) had acted unreasonably in a parking dispute at Miss Jopson’s block of leasehold flats; and in a way that was incompatible with the terms of the lease.

On June 29, Judge Harris ordered Home Guard Services to drop the fine and pay £2000 towards the defendant’s costs.

In June 2015, Laura Jopson was unloading furniture and parked directly in front of the communal entrance to the flats on Wolverton Park Road, rather than use her designated parking space because it was too far away.

She returned to her car after a few minutes and a week later, received a Penalty Charge Notice of a £100 fine from Home Guard Services, who control parking on behalf of the block’s owners Places for People Homes Ltd.

Miss Jopson’s initial appeal to the Independent Parking Committee (now trading as International Parking Community) was rejected. Following this appeal, Home Guard Services sued Miss Jopson in the Small Claims Court, where she lost.

Undeterred, she instructed James Couzens, a partner with Aylesbury law firm Parrott & Coales, who together with barrister Zahira Al-Rikabi (of Brick Court Chambers, London) successfully appealed her case pro bono in Oxford County Court.

James Couzens says: “We are absolutely delighted that the Judge found in Laura’s favour because this represents a victory for people who find themselves up against a big, ruthless adversary with deep pockets, against whom they have little chance of winning if they are on their own.”

Parrott and Coales’ case rested both on the fact that under the terms of the lease, Laura Jopson had a right of way to the block’s entrance which new parking regulations disregarded; and that the new parking regulations imposed by Home Guard Services did not come to Laura Jopson’s attention.

The Judge found that under the terms of the lease, Laura Jopson and her fellow tenants (as well as people making deliveries or those dropping off children or disabled passengers) have a right of way to the block’s entrance and that Home Guard Services’ regulations disregarded these rights.

James Couzens says: “My advice for any tenants who find themselves doing battle with a private parking firm is to read the terms of the lease that relate to parking and rights of way.”

Laura Jopson says: “I am so relieved to have won this case, not just for myself, but for leasehold tenants everywhere, who often have no idea when they buy a flat about the aggressive behaviour of some parking firms. I am extremely grateful to James Couzens at Parrott and Coales for his expert advice.”