/ Motoring

Barry Beavis: why I fought my parking penalty in court

Parking fine

When Barry Beavis was served with a £85 Parking Charge Notice by a private parking company, he wasn’t willing to just accept it and pay up. Here’s Barry himself on why he decided to fight the charge in court.

My name is Barry Beavis and I am involved in a legal battle that could save all motorists millions of pounds.

Parking tickets are a right royal pain the whotsit. We’ve all had a parking ticket and we’ve grudgingly paid what’s due. But are the charges actually fair?

There are two types of charge and two types of parking “ticket”. The first one is a parking ticket issued by your local authority, normally in the guise of a traffic warden or police officer. If you get one of these then you have usually done something wrong, as these are issued pursuant to the Road Traffic Act.

The second type of charge is for parking on private land. Something like a retail centre, a supermarket, an out of town shopping centre and cinema or even a hospital car park.

Fighting my parking penalty

I received one of these Notices from ParkingEye. I visited Riverside Retail Park in Chelmsford in April 2013. It offers motorists two hours free parking, but I had stayed for nearly three hours. I received a PCN (Parking Charge Notice) for £85 which I argued in a test case in Cambridge County Court was an unenforceable penalty, was not a genuine reflection of the parking company’s loss from motorists overstaying, and should not be allowed.

I had to research private parking companies to put together my defence in Cambridge. What I found made me so incredibly angry. I read experiences of people who had felt intimidated by letters asking them to pay the ‘fines’. This egged me on even more to fight my case on behalf of everyone who has been affected.

Yet, I lost. The judge ruled that there was a ‘commercial justification’ for the charges. New law was being written. Bad law, I think.

Taking it to the Supreme Court

I was amazed that the judge ruled against me. Contract law is simple in my opinion: if it’s a penalty then it is unenforceable. In my view, these parking companies had been getting away with it for far too long, yet here was a judge ruling in their favour. I was firstly shocked and then I became incensed; literally hopping mad.

I was given permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal and in February 2015 the case was heard. Last week the judgment was handed down.

Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Lord Justice Patten and Sir Timothy Lloyd agreed that the £85 charge is intended to deter motorists from overstaying in the car park. Yet, they also held – in an unprecedented ruling – that the charge is still enforceable as it is not ‘extravagant or unconscionable’. Simply put – £85 is not too much.

I have been given leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. I think I should. Do you?

This is a guest post by Barry Beavis, who took ParkingEye to court to contest his parking ticket. All opinions expressed here are Barry’s own, not necessarily those of Which?. Which? intervened in the Court of Appeal proceedings to protect the wider consumer interest, to safeguard existing consumer rights and to ensure the law is fair for consumers across all markets.

21 July 2015 update – off to the Supreme Court

This case is now being heard in the Supreme Court. The hearing is due to end later this week, with a ruling not expected until later this year.

4 Nov 2015 update – Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court today gave its judgement on Barry Beavis’ case. Disappointingly, he lost. Parking fines issued by private companies have been ruled as fair and proportionate by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court agreed with Parking Eye that the £85 charge Barry received for overstaying by 56 minutes was justified as it discouraged people from overstaying at a site close to a railway station and law courts.

We intervened in the case to ensure important consumer rights that protect people from excessive fines in all sectors were not watered down. However, the ruling could now lead to people being more severely fined for things like missing appointments or being late for a nursery pick-up.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

​​’This is a thoroughly disappointing judgment based on a narrow​ ​interpretation of the law. It will cause chaos if cowboy parking firms​ ​choose to take advantage of the ruling by hitting drivers with even​ ​more excessive charges. Our advice to consumers is to be on your guard​ ​and always appeal if you think a parking fine is unfair.’

We’re now planning to take the issue up with government ministers since a reversal of the judgment will require changes to the law.

Comments
Guest
Ian Trotman says:
3 January 2018

While Christmas shopping in Aldi Chertsey Surrey we received a parking fine. It took five minutes to to find a parking space. We had a baby to get out of the car and put back along with the groceries of three of us. We were a long time at the checkout. We will not be shopping there again. Please share.

Guest
Christopher R Barnes says:
4 January 2018

Parked just before Christmas at John Lewis in Horsham. My elderly father in law and my wife on a wet and windy day. Ait took ages looking for a space. Eventually I dropped my passengers by the entrance who started shopping. When I found a space I parked it was half inside half outside Asian the rain. Iq ran for the stroke to assist with my disabled father in law and then got a ticket. Didn’t see the signs then the operative put the parking ticket rolled up under my wipers. When I returned we didn’t see the ticket and the wipers came on automatically when I started the engine. Ait broke my wipers and marked my windscreen. Can I do them for criminal damage ?

Guest

Hi Christopher, I’m sorry this has happened. Unfortunately, this issue isn’t covered under Consumer Rights so we wouldn’t have any advice for you. If you are a Which? Legal member then you can always call them on 01992 822 828 and they’ll be able to offer you tailored legal advice.

Thanks

Guest

I am concerned about the consequences of overstaying at a motorway services area for valid reasons. Here is the text of an email I sent to BPA a couple of years ago:

Motorway service areas display clear signage about penalties for staying beyond the free period for parking. I have never overstayed but I wonder what would happen if I did overstay for what I would consider a valid reason. Here are some possible scenarios:

1. A driver or passenger became ill during a journey.

2. On checking the vehicle at the service area, a fault was detected making it inadvisable to continue driving, for example an oil or coolant leak. Continuing to drive would risk damage to the vehicle and might cause an accident if the engine seized.

3. A damaged tyre was discovered. A substantial number of cars are not supplied with spare wheels.

4. Recovery of the vehicle could not be arranged within the permitted period, especially where the driver is not a member of a breakdown service.

I have never experienced any of these situations but I hope you can reassure me that these cases would be seen as valid reasons for overstaying at a motorway service area, irrespective of which company operates it.

Regards xxxxxx

The reply from BPA

Thank you for your e-mail.

Please be advised the BPA are a membership organisation for operators who issue tickets on private land. We have a Code of Practice they must sign up to and this covers areas such as the amount of signage required to dealing with motorists fairly and professionally.

When a parking charge notice is issued, there is an appeals process the motorist can follow. You would first have to appeal to the operator who issued the ticket with all available evidence. If this is rejected, you will be provided with details on how to appeal to the independent appeals service called POPLA.

Any decision POPLA makes is binding on the operator but not the motorist.

I hope the above is of assistance to you.

Kind regards,

AOS Investigations Team

I was reminded of this exchange after feeling very unwell shortly after returning home from the highlands of Scotland. Had this happened several hours earlier I might have been stuck at a motorways services with an unpleasant attack of D&V, and unable to drive.

Why not make provision for users of car parks to call and explain that there is a problem that prevents them from safely continuing their journey?

Guest

Give some people or companies a little bit of power and they think they are god and try to do more than the little power they have been given Traffic wardens seem to be like that for one not listening to any reason at all just determined to give you a ticket for you to dispute later and tell you that’s what you should do Rules are rules to some and must be obeyed to the letter Jobs worth ones maybe?

Guest
Andrea says:
7 January 2018

Hi I received a PCN for not correctly parking all 4 wheels in a bay on private land (Iceland car park) it was difficult to get into the bay as the upkeep of the bay was full of leaves, the company is Excel parking put a ticket on my car what do I do?

Guest

If the bay was clearly marked then I suppose technically you could be preventing someone from parking in the adjoining bay. It is an offence and I do move my car if I get out and find I’ve parked over or on the line. Not only am I avoiding a penalty, but also hoping to avoid creating a situation where the next door car dinks my car, and to give the passenger or driver enough room to get out of their vehicle.

Guest

I would have either driven over the leaves or parked somewhere else. I’ve always been careful about parking within bays to avoid the car being damaged but now take great care because of the risk of a fine, even in some free car parks.

Guest
Alan Shaw says:
8 January 2018

I have been issued Parking Tickets by a Private Company to all the vehicles that park on my private drive. That is my vehicle and my visitors vehicles I have Land Registry Documents to prove that this is land i own and have sent copies to CPM but never get a reply, but still the tickets keep coming. I have sent my letters by recorded post but still get no answer. It would seem the only option is to wait till they take me to court for non payment unless of course anyone ells has got another option. Thanks

Guest

Presumably the “Private company” claims they are managing the land for someone else. Is it properly signed for parking penalties and, if so, why have you not taken the signs down? Presumably your visitors will need to fight their own penalty tickets; have any paid or contested them? This seems a case that needs more information.

I’d suggest your solicitor writes to the company with the necessary documents if ownership is so clearcut. If so then maybe legal action can be taken against the “Parking Company” for attempting to make money illegally..

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
10 January 2018

Seems to be a criminal offense to extort money. Perhaps in this case Which? may see it as a public interest case and take a hand in the matter.

Are you are referring to CPM as in this article:
mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/sneaky-phone-app-pays-10-9747652
Contacting a newspaper may be worthwhile.

Guest
Daniel Evemy-Hunt says:
9 January 2018

Hi i recieved a ticket through the post from a private company after i stopped on their land, i didn’t park i was in the road, car running as i dropped off a letter.. was there no longer than 30 seconds?

Guest

Hi Daniel, sorry to hear this. If you were parking on the street then you should look at our advice on PCN tickets, and how to appeal them: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/ive-been-issued-a-parking-ticket-for-parking-on-the-street

Guest
Mat. Davis says:
10 January 2018

Hi there, I paid for overnight parking on a private car park but the ticket was upside down when the attendant came round ( it must have blown over when I closed the door. ) I was issued with A ticket for £100 (£60) if paid in 14 days.
I have appealed against it to the issuers but they have rejected my appeal. I’m going to appeal to “popla”( I think it’s called) anyone know if it will go any further? I have no intention of paying the fine as I bought the correct ticket in the first place! Does anyone know what my chances are please?
Thanks.

Guest

The rule is that the ticket must be properly displayed so that it can be inspected. i presume one issue is that if caught without buying a ticket (perish the thought) the offender could borrow someone else’s to “show” they had paid.

If, however, the ticket showed the vehicle registration number then I would have thought an appeal should be at least partly successful; maybe pay for the administration involved in issuing and following up the ticket. Maybe Which? legal could comment on whether this would give a reasonable defence if you were to refuse to pay and the parking company took it further.

I come back to my real problem – not the principle of a penalty but its extortionate size, out of all proportion to the offence and the cost of dealing with offending parkers. I’d like Which? to campaign to have the maximum penalty set at £20 (say) or, in expensive car parks, twice the maximum daily charge.

Guest
Castle says:
10 January 2018

Mat;-Please go to the Parking Tickets, Fines & Parking forum on moneysavingexpert and start a new thread; there’s plenty of guidance there. (Note; please don’t use your real name).

Guest

Hi Mat, sorry to hear this. When parking on private land, unless the Motorists must appeal a ticket to the car park operator first before they can go to the appeals service. There’s a very short timeframe in which a parking ticket can be challenged, it’s just 28 days. The appeals service only applies to firms in the BPA’s Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) or the IPC’s Independent Appeals Service.

It’s worth considering that POPLA will not consider mitigating circumstances and to give you some stats,
POPLA ruled on 23,500 cases brought to it in the year to March 2015 where 45% of these were in favour of the motorist.

We have a claiming tool that you might like to use here: https://www.which.co.uk/tools/parking-ticket-appeal-tool/

You can also read about your rights and our advice on contesting a ticket here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-appeal-a-parking-ticket-on-private-land#contest-your-parking-ticket

If you are a Which? Legal member then you could call them on 01992 822 828 and they’ll be able to offer you tailored legal advice.

Guest
Fiddle says:
12 January 2018

Can anyone tell me if I have any chance of winning an appeal to a parking charge. I tried to pay it 3 days after parking in the hospital car park, and have email correspondence with Total Parking Solutions to prove that I did, and I registered on to the website to try to pay retrospectively. I received an email reply saying that the deadline for payment was midnight so I had missed the chance to pay the charge. It also told me that I could appeal if I received a fine (but perhaps they have to say that) I received the letter yesterday (11th Jan) dated 4th Jan about the parking on 28th Dec. It’s £25 increasing to £50 after 14 days. I feel annoyed that I was willing to pay and made the effort to do so before the charge was issued.

Guest

Seems unlikely. I’d pay the £25 quickly. There has to be a cut-off point and, from what you say, you missed it substantially. Why did you not pay in time?

Guest
Fiddle says:
12 January 2018

It was a hospital car park with no barrier and no meters. There was a sign by the road entrance which I missed, but nothing in the letter from the hospital about the appointment, nor in the car park itself and nothing at the reception desk in the main entrance where we checked in. It was only talking to other people who have used the car park before that I understood that I should have paid. Apparently you give your registration number to the staff at the desk and they take payment there. On your advice I’ll pay and stop fretting. At least I won’t do it again.

Guest

It sounds worth a letter to the hospital explaining what happened to you as a first time visitor and the additional stress it has caused by them not making you aware of the car park before you arrived.

Guest

In that event, Fiddle, I’d try an appeal, if the instructions for using the car park were not clear. I’d discuss with the hospital.

Guest

Sorting out hospital parking would be my priority. If you deliver a child or neighbour to A&E or take them for an outpatient appointment (or are attending as an outpatient), you may have little idea of how long your stay will be. At the very least, car parks should be barrier-controlled with pay on exit.

Guest

The problem with barriered car parks in busy places is the congestion on exit, particularly while people sort out their payment. With a pay and display car park you should be able to buy additional tickets if your stay extends beyond what you expected.

Hospitals should have free drop off points with a reasonable time limit to allow you to take the patient in and assess how long you might need to wait. Our local hospital is barriered and you take a ticket on entry, and then pay for the time you’ve used when you return to your car; seems fair and the charges are not unreasonable. I’d be happier if the NHS ran all these car parks and returned revenue to help fund their service, instead of generating profits for private operators.

Guest

In Snowdonia the one major hospital has vast tracts of parking, although not necessarily that close to the entrance. The problems with hospital car parking are numerous: staff, visitors, patients, service vehicles, the disabled and so on, and in all this will be the few that consider themselves ‘special cases’.

Now, stupidity and selfishness know no bounds, and even though all NHS parks in Wales are free, the blocking and thoughtlessness that can manifest cause disproportionate problems. So what I suspect is needed throughout the system is a very simple set of rules:

1. staff parking is always separated from visitor and patient parking.
2. Drop-off points will be clearly indicated, subject to a maximum of 60 seconds, and after 60 seconds the vehicle will be towed away and sold at auction or destroyed.
3. In case rule (3) seems a little draconian an appeals process will exist. The appeal process will be determined by the answers given to a series of questions, which will determine whether or not the offender is given their car back or not. In the event that the petitioner is deemed to be time wasting, then a charge of not less than £500 will be levied. Those refusing to accept the judgment of the appeals process will be shot.
4. Those wishing to use an NHS car park are required to renounce all claims, their human rights, all natural justice, their lives, limbs and sanity.
5. Visitors will be required to park in the nearest park-and-ride facility, which will at all times be no closer than five miles to the hospital.
6. Cars impeding ambulances will be crushed.
7. Illegal parking: the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment will be used to deal with parking violations. Upon payment of suitable fees within two days the flattened remains of cars will be returned to owners.
8. Payment must always be made in advance to use an NHS car park. Failure to pay in advance will result in your car being given to a nurse.
9. To facilitate an advance payment you are advised to start an account with NHS car Parks Ltd. on your 18th Birthday. By contributing to this account on a weekly or monthly basis by the time you become ill enough to require hospitalisation you should have created a healthy balance. By keeping your car registration up to date on the NHS car parks R us site the money will be paid automatically.
10. Have a nice day.

Guest

You could avoid the car parking problem altogether by simply closing the hospitals.

Guest

Our town has a minor injuries facility that opened five or six years ago. There is plenty of parking for visitors and staff.

Guest

We have a similar hospital in Llandudno. Never a problem.

Guest
Fiddle says:
12 January 2018

Thanks for your advice. The thing that I felt was unfair was that I tried to pay what I owed (and can demonstrate my efforts) and that they chose not to accept a late payment well before the charge was issued.
If that isn’t a good reason for appeal then I will pay as my friends have teased me about missing the ‘HUGE’ notice at the entrance of the car park!!

Guest
Chris Husbands says:
13 January 2018

I received a photo of the front of my car, saying I was parked without a permit, The photo doesn’t show where I was parked, i also told them I was not the driver at the time, and my friend who was driving has now returned to Latvia. but now they demand £100.

Guest
Castle says:
13 January 2018

If you have given the parking company the driver’s name and address, then you cannot be liable.

Guest
john coleman says:
15 January 2018

I lodged an appeal against a parking ticket requesting a face to face hearing.Due to abad snow fall I was unable to attend the hearing but notified the court in good time. I have now been advised that the face to face hearing would not be reinstated. It now has to be done by phone if I liked it or not.
Can anyone offer any advise

Guest
Mark says:
18 January 2018

Ive just been ticketed to parking on double yellow lines with my disabled badge. Now i was over my 3 hours which i agree was my fault but on the parking ticket it states. Parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours. Would i be able to appeal it as i was over my time not parking on a street where were not allowed. Slight technicality but if reworded correctly do you belive i would win????

Guest

Although it’s borderline I think it’s worth a try. Giving the wrong reason for a parking ticket should lead to it being cancelled but you need to be careful not to implicate yourself in another contravention at the same time and place.

Although parking for blue badge holders is allowed on double yellow lines so long as the badge and time clock are displayed there is an important qualification: the parking must not cause an obstruction. Since in my experience nearly all double yellow lines mark places where it would be impossible not to cause an obstruction if parked there I have often wondered how the local authority parking enforcement people make the judgment. Perhaps it depends on traffic conditions at the time of the parking. Luckily for disabled people it seems that parking enforcement officers never seem to invoke that qualification and would prefer to have a word with the driver or just walk away..