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Notification by management company of revised car parking scheme

Samambwa v Countrywide Managing Residential Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 1133

Mr S was a long leaseholder of a flat. The lease included a right to park in an allocated parking space. The lease contained a duty on the part of the management company to manage the car parking spaces. In practice it was often difficult for Mr S to park in his allocated space and a practice had grown up over time whereby tenants would park as close as possible to their allocated space. The management company decided to revise the car parking arrangements by marking out and re-allocating spaces, including visitors’ parking, and employed a clamping company to police the new arrangements. Mr S breached the new arrangements and his car was removed by the clamping company, who refused to release it unless a fine had been paid. Mr S sought injunctions against the management company and the clamping company.

The Court of Appeal was highly critical of the conduct of the clamping company and held that their conduct in removing the car and refusing (in breach of an earlier court order) to return it was tortious and entitled Mr S to damages against them. However, as the clamping company had since been placed into liquidation, the real issue was whether the management company could also be liable for the clamping company’s conduct. The Court of Appeal held that the real issue which should have been argued before the Court was whether the management company had a duty under the lease to give Mr S reasonable notification of the revised car parking scheme and, if so, whether it had discharged that duty. If not, this would open the way for Mr S to claim against the management company direct. However, because Mr S was unrepresented those issues had not been properly argued before the Court. The Court considered however that a grave injustice had been done to Mr S and it was proper and just for the matter to be submitted for a re-trial so that the issue of notification could be properly argued.