/ 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.

17 April 2020

I hope you can help please. Back in February I received a Parking Charge Notice for entering a private car park (managed by Apcoa Parking) without a valid payment/permit. The car park is situated on a side road next door to a pub with a beer garden. It was only upon entering the side road I discovered that the pub did not have its own car park and was unable to do a 3 point turn to leave. This meant that I had no choice but to enter the paying car park as it was a continuation of the road I was on. Effectively, I had to do “U” turn in the car park and left immediately without parking.

Anyway, I received a PCN £85.00 charge (£50.00 if paid early) for this incident which I ignored. Today I got a letter from a debt recovery company demanding that I now pay a parking charge balance totalling £155.00! I did not receive any reminder notices from Apcoa Parking before this letter. I called the debt company to try and explain but the woman on the phone was really rude and was not at all interested. She just wanted payment from me.

I have looked on the Apcoa Parking website and was able to locate the original photo evidence which was on my PCN notice, but the option to appeal has expired so could not take it further. One of the pictures is a very dark night picture which does not show a car or a number plate, just 2 front headlamps! This picture is dated 27th Jan at 18:52. Then there is another picture in colour of the front of my car which shows my number plate quite clearly but it is dated 29th Jan at 14:29 which I believe would have been the correct date.

I have kept the screen shots of these pictures. So, the way that the cameras are positioned in the car park there should be a back view of me entering (which there isn’t) and a front view of me leaving. This would prove time of entry and time of leaving. There is no option it seems to contact Apcoa Parking to explain my situation. Should I now just ignore all communication from the debt company and wait for a court order if it materializes? And would I be looking at paying loads of money if I lost the court case?


Kim – My opinion is that you should indeed “just ignore all communication from the debt company and wait for a court order if it materializes”. Without a court order or warrant the parking charge cannot be enforced. If it should get to court, which I doubt, your evidence as stated here would lead to cancellation of the parking charge notice since no parking took place [your car was never stationary].

Kim says:
18 April 2020

Thank you for your quick reply John. I will do that. I intend to take photos of the road leading to the car park and also the position of the entry and exit cameras and any signs, just in case. I do hate injustice. I will let you know what happens.

Hello, I’m wondering if anyone can help me. I’ll try to keep this brief!

PCN received despite a VCS operative telling me it was OK to park behnd him (there were lots of cars in front of him too).

I appealed, turned down.

Case now going to Small Claims Court.

I don’t have any evidence ofthat conversation, altough the picture he took shows the van-sized spot he vacated to take a pic of my car.

I’m thrown by all the legal talk and naivley hope(d) that my pursuit of justice could come about by going to court and telling the judge exactly what happened.

All help gratefully received.

Richard – You will probably be recommended to seek a resolution between you and the other party by meeting an impartial mediator. This would be quicker and cheaper than going before a judge in the County Court. If the other side fails to appear or submits no evidence then judgment will be found in your favour; otherwise the arguments on each side will be rehearsed and a settlement offered by the mediator. If that is not satisfactory you would still have the right to make a formal court claim but your rejection of a mediated settlement might be taken into account. If you succeed you can claim your costs from the car park operator.

My advice would be to write a notice in your hall saying ” Any private parking firm who parks their letters on my doormat by sending them, do hereby agree that they amount of any parking fine they are writing about, 100 % of the fine may be deducted as a fine to the private parking firm for causing their letters to become parked on the registered keeper’s doormat by sending them” When they write you simply write back enclosing a copy of the notice and a letter saying ” I am most dreadfully for the heanious crime of overstaying a few minutes on your land as such I would like to settle the fine in full, I do however deduct a small fine to yourselves of 100% of the amount you claimed in respect of you parking your letters on my doormat whilst there was a clearly displayed sign saying this is not allowed. I do of course enclose a copy of the notice. In future, I would advise that you knock on the door and check that theres no signs like this in place before sending me letters asking for a fine.

Now if there is any difference owing please find a cheque enclosed for it. If on the other hand the total amount owing is under 1 penny (like it is on this occasion) then you will not find a cheque enclosed as there is no difference to settle.

Lots of love and big soppy kisses

The registered keeper of
vehicle reg ______________


Mark – That all sounds very clever, but have you tried it? Does it work?

I think that so long as the parking operator diligently follows the enforcement code and issues the notice to keeper correctly and in the right timescale you cannot evade the parking charge and that any prevarication will add additional costs to the demands.

This is all avoidable if you avail yourself of the challenge and appeal processes if you believe that a parking ticket has been issued without proper justification.

As John says – have you tried it? Does it work? I very much doubt it.

The Parking Charge – the “fine” – is backed up by a poorly thought-through piece of legislation (POCA 2012), supported by an astonishingly inept Supreme Court decision (Beavis).

Mark’s suggestion sounds like a good idea, but it’s unlikely to impress a judge in the County Court. There is no law behind it. I anticipate the parking company will win its case and add yet more lolly to its ill-gotten gains.

The section of POCA which deals with parking needs to be repealed, while the judges who made the daft decision in the Supreme Court need to go back to university to re-sit their first year (they’ll learn about some important legal principles – especially conflict of interest – things they’ve clearly forgotten since they were elevated to the rarefied atmosphere of the Supreme Court). In the meantime, DVLA should cease providing details to companies which seek charges in excess of £20. Why are all the motoring organisations so silent on this issue?

Daniel says:
26 January 2021

Hi there.. I’m desperate for some help. I was made redundant in Sep20 so this £85 penalty charge isn’t great…
– on the 15th Dec20, I drove into Riverside Retail Park in Chelmsford with my family.
– I parked in the disabled bay as we have a blue badge for my son.
– We spend a number of hours Xmas shopping (Got purchases on bank statements) and received a penalty charge notice for over staying 13minutes!
– I am living in temporary accommodation in Colchester and my post is redirected…
a) this has only just arrived to me and missed the cheaper cost deadline
b) post deliveries in Colchester have been delayed due to COvid!!
c) Are these notices enforceable as years ago they weren’t and you could ignore them?

ANY HELP would be appreciated all.


Daniel – I am sorry you have been the subject of unfortunate circumstances, but if you overstayed the parking time limit for Blue Badge holders then I think you will be liable for a parking charge. You might be able to appeal for a cancellation on compassionate grounds, or for payment at the appropriate rate for a car without a Blue Badge, but with your mail being redirected there are potential risks to the exchange of correspondence and parking companies are not known for their sympathy.

I would recommend you to pay the £85 in order to avoid the possibility of further escalation. If properly issued, the parking charge notice is certainly enforceable and should not be ignored.

We are constantly seeing aggrieved motorists, who have failed to observe parking requirements, complaining about the penalty and advising them that, other than to hope for goodwill, there is little they can do. They have transgressed.

The bigger point, I maintain, is that many accept that they have, indeed, transgressed but are most aggrieved at the excessive, and perhaps extortionate, penalty they are told to pay. Like Daniel’s £85 for a 13 minute overstay. And I say extortionate because there is a further large penalty if you fail to pay up quickly.

I would suggest maximum penalties should be set at £20 (except in car parks where this is less than the parking charge avoided). I believe that would relieve much of the aggravation from those who accept their error.

The last time I looked, councils and private operators took in around £1.5 bn (£1500 000 000) a year from parking penalties. Far more than we lose in push payment fraud that Which? vigorously campaigns on. Yet no campaign to address the consumer detriment caused by parking penalties. Perhaps they see no way it can be changed? They have never told us why they are not prepared to act for consumers.

I entirely agree, Malcolm. As in many other fields, Which? asks people to give examples of consumer detriment but then does absolutely nothing about it.

Two London borough councils are recently reported to have gathered over £!0,000,000 each in the last accounting period from parking penalty charges and many others are not far behind. This case is about a private land parking contravention and I suspect there is a similar level of extortion in parts of London where parking space is at a premium and off-road parking charges are high.

Hi everybody I wonder if anybody has had an experience like mine and could advise me. Iwent to a local shopping centre car park run by parking eye .Ipurchased a ticket and went to the shops (you dont have to display the ticket as it is camera controled) I Left the car park within the alloted timeand went home.Acouple of weeks later i got a ticket through the post saying i had breached their terms and conditions by not correctly keying in the correct number plate 2 digits were wrong.I appealed the ticket through their website by email as you cannot contact them by personal mail c to cut a .long story short they didnt want to know Solicitor letters followed and the out come was to take it to mediation which i did. My defence being that i had paid for the time i was parked so no one was out of pocket. the solicitor for them said no but offered to cut the charge to £150 from£ 260 bout i said no and that i was willing to take it to court and hope common sense will prevail .if anyone has any advice I wouldbe grateful Thanks for reading

Hi Edward – If the company is a member of the BPA some tolerance is now allowed: https://www.britishparking.co.uk/write/Documents/AOS/AOS_Code_of_Practice_January_2020_v8(2).pdf

If you have evidence that you have paid and the registration number you entered was mostly correct it might be worth going to court. In your position I would join Which? Legal for inexpensive legal advice. I hope that common sense will prevail. Best of luck.

Edward, from memory if you input two digits incorrectly your penalty should be limited to £20. https://inews.co.uk/essentials/lifestyle/cars/car-news/drivers-who-enter-wrong-car-details-to-be-spared-parking-fines-383097

Hi, im going to the county court in November, having been chased aggressively by gladstones solicitors on behalf of Uk car parking management for overstaying on private land, I have genuine reasons why my vehicle overstayed but these a*******s just want money, they dont care about my reasons for overstaying, any ideas on what to say or do on the day, cheers B

Just give your reasons for overstaying and prevail on the mercy of the court. You don’t explain why your vehicle overstayed so it is impossible to advise whether you are likely to be let off the parking charge.

Reasons are usually of no consequence, overstaying being an absolute contravention, but you might be shown some leniency or compassion and ordered just to pay the normal charge without any escalation for enforcement and court action, but I wouldn’t count on it. If the parking charge isn’t cancelled I would expect there would be costs to pay.

Bryan says:
15 June 2021

Judges do not take mitigating circumstances into account. They only consider points of law.

When parking on private land, the relevant points of law are:
Signage in the car park.
The contract between the landowner and the private parking company.
The identity of the driver.
The grace periods before and after the parking event.

The Money Saving Expert Private Parking Forum has free advice to help you fight your PCN in court.