By Carlota Santos Movilla | News Editor
In January to February of 2020, Dr Neil Scott, a Royal Holloway alumni who became an Economics teaching fellow of Econometrics at RHUL, struggled to see eye to eye with the on-campus parking company First Parking. He was also a PhD candidate at the time. Dr Scott found it difficult to achieve a parking permit since he was no longer a student, so his parking permit status was undetermined. When Dr Scott would drive onto campus and park his car, he accumulated several tickets as he came into campus to teach.
Dr Scott was sent a letter to his home address, where he was not physically staying when it was delivered, notifying him of these parking tickets. If one doesn’t respond to it in two weeks then a CCJ is automatically the next legal step. This situation would then increase financially, for example, 60 pounds on top of each sanction after the two weeks. For those who may not know, a CCJ (County Court Judgement) can become somewhat disruptive for those on the receiving end as it renders them unable to have a mortgage or pay car loans. It hinders your ability to gain credit for up to six years and rules out some financial transactions and activities.
The parking company in question decided to increase their prices to their discretion; something Dr Scott considers abusive and unlawful. The judge called their behaviour an ‘abuse of process’. The company charges ‘additional costs’ on top of the existing fines without describing what these mean and why the cost keeps increasing exponentially for those affected. In an interview, Dr Scott says they added around 100 pounds to each fine. At this point, the judge challenged the barrister to explain the legitimacy of the growing cost.
Dr Scott spotted this behaviour. However, other less experienced, more naive students may not and probably have not in the past. Ideally, Dr Scott sees the situation developing to a point where there would be a record of every student who has engaged with this company. Then, this issue would be brought to their attention. If these extortion practices have affected a wide range of Royal Holloway members, this would have to be looked into more precisely; perhaps an apology would come forth.
We cannot help but wonder how the situation evolved up to this point without anyone noticing. Naturally, Dr Scott now seeks justice by warning other students about this behaviour which aims to benefit from people’s unawareness of the law. The situation caused significant uncertainty for three months, on top of coronavirus limiting our daily lives. The toll this has taken on Dr Scott has been one of substantial stress.
The judiciary concluded the parking company was grossly inflating the sums to pay. The judges clarify they ‘knowingly inflate’ the price which proves to be worrying for students as not everyone could spot this behaviour. Royal Holloway handed the matter to their solicitor when notified of the situation at hand.
One should examine how many times this has happened in the past and if each time has been legitimate. Dr Scott says they are very likely to state they comply; the judge ruled the opposite. Eventually, they ruled his case struck out as an abuse of process. Dr Scott received the amount of money determined to be the financial cost to be accepted.