/ 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
Alex says:
17 March 2019

Anyway come across this. My car was at a garage having it’s mot when it given a pcn even though the garage had parked it there. I had left my vehicle at it’s forecourt. The garage didn’t tell me about the pcn even though I have subsequently obtained a photo of one of the mechanics arguing with the traffic warden. I appealed. The council tells me the pcn still stands as I am the legal owner of the vehicle. Any advice please

I thought we had exhausted this subject but you have provided yet another scenario, Alex.

If someone else was driving you are not liable: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/parking-tickets/appealing-parking-tickets/appealing-a-parking-ticket-when-someone-else-was-driving/.

Best of luck with getting this sorted out promptly. Your local newspaper might like the story.

Susan Stuart says:
20 March 2019

Hi there I wonder if anyone can help. We received a fine for parking in a lay-by which is where we rented a shop for 14 years. We had a permit to park there. We were moving all of our items from the store as we were closing. On the day we received a fine we were in and out of the shop (which was obvious to anyone walking past ) with diy items and loading our car. Our permit had fallen off our dashboard and fell to the floor. Within six minutes apparently an Amtrak agent observed our car and as he couldn’t see our ticket although he knew we were in the store as all doors were open he didn’t approach us but merely left a ticket on our car. This was on the 22 nd June 2014. I immediately tried to find the guy and call but he wasn’t around. I emailed Amtrak that day to advise of our situation. Now as it’s been some time I really can’t remember what happened but I have a feeling they refused our appeal even though we gave evidence of the permit, our lease etc. I don’t even know if we paid it in the end but all of a sudden we have just received a letter saying that they are taking me to court. At the time of the ticket they were not accredited but I think as I contacted them they got my details. Is it still possible for them to pursue me after all this time? I feel slightly agrieved at the fact that we were allowed to park there and we did have a permit and it was clear to anyone it was our car as we were in and out of the shop eyc….any advice would be very appreciated x

Susan Hanning says:
26 March 2019

My husband received a parking ticket for being just in a bus lane letting myself out because a Lorry just stopped .The fine was for 195 pound because we never paid the 65 pound first one.But we honestly never received the first fine .How do you prove it was never delivered to us.we are willing to pay for our mistake but to nearly treble when we never got this first fine and knew nothing about it.Being a pensioner it is too much to find for them not sending the first fine.Its their word but it is so upsetting

Susan – Since the parking contravention occurred in a bus lane it was almost certainly a local council or other form of highway authority [e.g. Transport for London] that issued the penalty charge notice. Councils are generally more amenable to persuasion in circumstances like yours than parking enforcement companies operating on private land.

I expect the enforcement was carried out by a camera mounted near the bus lane since your car was only stationary in the bus lane for a brief period. If there had been a parking enforcement officer present there would probably have been a conversation and they might have issued a ticket immediately or requested you to drive out of the bus lane immediately. In these circumstances [no personal contact] the council must consider any representations you make about the non-delivery of the first notice. Just as you cannot prove you did not receive the original PCN the authority cannot prove that you did, so they should give you the benefit of the doubt and accept your word that you did not receive the original PCN. This should then result in the penalty reverting to the original £65 charge.

Since you did receive the second ticket [the Notice to Owner] there can be no doubt that the local authority had the correct vehicle number and your home address. That you did not receive it can only be due to loss or misdelivery by the postal service for which you cannot be held responsible.

You have to accept liability for the basic PCN since there was an absolute contravention. Bus lanes are not just No Waiting areas but No Stopping areas [except in an emergency], and stopping to pick up or set down a passenger is prohibited. I suggest you write to the issuing authority, state your case as set out in your comment above, offer to pay the original penalty charge, and request the authority to exercise discretion in your case.

I hope your challenge is successful.

Emily Shoesmith-Dean says:
26 March 2019

Hi, I need some advice. I got a parking fine but I had a ticket in my car, displayed clearly and cost me £7.00. I appealed to the department and they have rejected my appeal. I have in my possession, the parking ticket and fine, 3 witnesses whoa re willing to talk on my behalf and a dash cam recording of when i entered and exited the parking. All of which i sent and explained to the appeals department. What should I do next? Any advice is welcome.

Emily – Without more information about the type of enforcement regime it is not possible to give you definitive advice, for example I do not know whether or not there is any further right of appeal in this situation.

Your initial appeal might be what is regarded as an informal ‘challenge’; which the issuing body has rejected. Normally, and certainly where a local authority issues a penalty charge, there is a right to a formal appeal to a parking tribunal. There is usually a similar process available with private parking enforcement where there is a right of appeal to an organisation called POPLA [the Parking On Private Land Appeals service]; other similar bodies also consider appeals.

Details of the challenge and appeal rights should be printed on the Penalty Charge Notice [if issued by a local authority] or the Parking Charge Notice [if issued for parking on private land] that you will have received. There is also likely to be a website address that you could use to get more information.

There is plenty of information on-line about how to appeal against a parking penalty or you could use this Which? guide https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/l/parking-tickets.

Jane says:
27 March 2019

I got private charge I appeal it as I was 11mins 40 seconds late of Britannia parking. I told them it work out £5.40 a minute so was unhappy as I felt it was unjust. Now been pass to deat firm wanting 160 . Told them I want to fight this in court. Am I right or should I pay this firm as I feel it will keep going up in cost . Help Needed

Jane – It appears that you have contested the parking charge but the enforcement company has not accepted your challenge. Since you have not paid the charge the cost will have escalated and it seems that recovery agents have now been employed.

You might have lost any further opportunity to exercise a further right of appeal and you should check that with the issuing company. If that is the case there is no point in continuing to refuse payment as the charge will progress to higher levels and additional enforcement costs could be incurred culminating in the issue of a warrant to bailiffs and ultimately a county court judgment against you.

This will depend on the policy of the individual enforcement company as they do not all go to the full extent of court enforcement but employ law firms or debt collectors to issue warning letters in the hope you will settle quickly; such firms might not pursue the debt any further but you have no way of knowing in advance whether or not that will be the case. It is a gamble that you are free to take but my advice would be to pay the amount now as soon as possible and put this behind you.

The fact that your period of contravention was quite short in relation to the parking charge is not regarded as a relevant ground for appeal. So long as there is an informative notice about the terms applying where the car was parked you will be presumed to have been aware of them.

The charges for parking in contravention of parking restrictions on private land are generally regarded as excessive and Which? has been asked many times to make representations to government seeking a change in the law to ensure more reasonable charges for minor contraventions where little loss or inconvenience is caused.

Kristy Fletcher says:
29 March 2019

I received a ticket I appealed as it was incorrect I had paid for a ticket but the machine issues shorter time then I wanted. I approached the warden and he said it happen all the time. I lost a record appeal but I heard nothing I called smart parking and stated what was happening. They said they were investigating then the next thing i knew I had DRPL dept collection calling me for £150? now threatening me with court. I didn’t receive an appeal until I stated I had no idea what they were talking about. Then 2 months letter I get the appeal stating its been rejected? when I called DRPL they said tough you’ve missed all deadlines? WTH. what can I do? I am not paying this unlawful charge

James Mcguinness says:
5 April 2019

I was unloading but parked on double yellow lines
But the officer had only observed it for 1 minute
I thought they had too observe it for 10 minutes is this true

These are the meanings of markings including those on the kerb which will show whether you can unload or not. https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/road-markings.html .If you are not permitted to unload then you commit an offence by doing so and if observed can be prosecuted. I don’t see why you should be allowed to cause an obstruction for 10 minutes before their is any action taken.

What is permitted seems to differ between councils. In London “Loading and unloading is permitted on single and double yellow lines for a maximum of 40 minutes if loading is observed. You must not cause an obstruction and ensure that there is no loading ban”. https://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/services/parking-services/parking-and-traffic/parking-advice-members-public/loading-and-unloading#Yellow%20lines

I used to collect printing from a city centre printers and the council allowed a discretionary period of five minutes on double yellow lines, though the owner of shop said that the parking wardens turned a blind eye. I did not stop to chat.

Our county council allows 20 minutes for loading on double yellow lines, or longer at the discretion of an officer.

That is what the highway code says.
“Yellow marks on the kerb or at the edge of the carriageway indicate that loading or unloading is prohibited at the times shown on the nearby black and white plates. You may stop while passengers board or alight. If no days are indicated on the signs the restrictions are in force every day including Sundays and Bank Holidays.

ALWAYS CHECK THE TIMES SHOWN ON THE PLATES.

Lengths of road reserved for vehicles loading and unloading are indicated by a white ‘bay’ marking with the words ‘Loading Only’ and a sign with the white on blue ‘trolley’ symbol. This sign also shows whether loading and unloading is restricted to goods vehicles and the times at which the bay can be used. If no times or days are shown it may be used at any time. Vehicles may not park here if they are not loading or unloading.
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/road-markings

I had presumed that James was referring to standard double yellow lines in a controlled parking zone.

I presume that if James looks up the rules provided by the relevant local council, that should provide an answer to his own question and possibly the evidence needed to challenge a parking charge. When parking on double yellow lines it’s vital not to cause an obstruction.

Mike says:
7 April 2019

Hi

Can you give me some advise/opinion on my issue please?

I’m a window cleaner. A couple of weeks ago, I had to park my van at the back of this block of flats to carry out a clean.
I could only park the area which was crossed off in yellow lines in their private car park. All parking slots in white lines are clearly signed as “private”.
Apart from the slots were all crossed off in yellow.
My van was not restricting anybody’s way in the carpark. Unfortunately a busybody came out and complained that my van was in the unauthorised area and reported me. Now I have a parking charge notice for £100 from a private IPC accredited company.

My points are
1. I had to park my van close to the building to carry out the job
2. All other available parking slots were for private use
3. I was only there for less than 60mins

This is a monthly contract which I have been carrying out for over two years but this is the first problem I’ve ever had. So I believe it’s that guy got me into this trouble.

I’m about to appeal against the charge but what’s the success rate like when it’s like my case ie) while working and there’s nowhere else to park?
Is it better just to ignore the charge and wait for them to give up on me?

Thanks for your help.

Mike

I think you should discuss this with the company that entered into a contract with you, probably the managing agents for the block. They are presumably also responsible for the parking arrangements. They ought to be able to get the parking enforcement contractor to cancel the charge in your case and provide you with a parking dispensation that would allow you to park within the site provided you display it in your vehicle for the residents to see..

Although yellow cross-hatch markings are used to indicate ‘no parking’ that cannot necessarily be assumed as such a marking has no legal status. There should, therefore, be a sign or notice to say so if it is going to be enforced. You could challenge the penalty on that ground. If they refuse to concede then you could refuse to pay and await your day in court where I think you would have a reasonable chance of winning, although that can never be taken for granted.

Greg says:
9 April 2019

I have just recieved a penalty notice at a private car park whilst taking my wife to hospital. The notice says I overstayed, even though I topped up the parking and left before the top-up ran out.

The car park had a sign saying there was no need to display, so instead of placing the second ticket in the car (where it woud still be!) I no longer have it. If I appeal, is the the company obliged to check their records to see if a further payment was made? Would this be admissable if I go to county court?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

It’s worth checking that the rules displayed at the car park, Greg. If they do not forbid paying for additional time then it’s worth making an appeal.

I would like to see an end to charges at hospital car parks because there is often no way of knowing how long you will have to stay when taking someone to A&E (in some cases avoiding the need for an ambulance) or attending an outpatient appointment. If a charge is deemed necessary then a pay on exit system should be in operation.

I would not trust any sign that said there was no need to display on a top up parking ticket. If Greg received a penalty notice for paying for overstaying but not displaying a valid ticket, this surely is a clear case of misrepresentation.

Some car park notices clearly state ‘No return within a certain time’. If this were the case they could still fine you whether you display a top up ticket or not. Paying for a top up ticket may be regarded as a contravention of this notice.

Simone B Nelson says:
9 April 2019

I attended a meeting in a Wetherspoons for over two hours. I had parked immediately adjacent to the venue. I susbsequently got a fine for overstaying the limit – you cannot stay more than 2 hrs it seems. I went online to make a plea. Found that if I made a plea I could be fined the full £100, otherwise it was £60. I made the £60 online but found that I could not make a plea.

Is this not bullying?

@gmartin, Hello George 🙂 ,is Which? ever likely to respond to questions about its stance on what some (many) see as excessive and extortionate parking penalties and surcharges?

Morning Malcolm. Yes it is. Amelia and I are aware of the questions this Convo receives regularly (and indeed, why people land on this page). We’ve been working on this for a while now and, coincidentally, plan to publish a round-up of these questions on Thursday.

@gmartin, thanks George.

Simone – I presume you parked your car on the public highway near the pub. If parking in the space you used was limited to 2 hours only there should be a sign on the footway adjacent to the length of permitted parking space saying so. It would probably also have a further ‘no return within X hours’ restriction. If there is no such sign then the contravention is unenforceable and you can claim a refund.

Normally, with public highway contraventions, the driver has the option to pay the penalty charge at the reduced rate within fourteen days or submit a challenge, but if the challenge is rejected then the full charge is due. I believe you made the right call in paying the £60 reduced rate since if what I supposed above was the situation then I don’t think a challenge would have been successful and you would have had to pay the full charge of £100.

If the parking situation was different to what I suggested then please do return and explain the circumstances because it could alter the guidance you are seeking.

If this was a normal public highway contravention enforced by a local authority [or other public body, for example Transport for London] then I do not consider it comes within the complaint of excessive or extortionate penalties and surcharges. This regime has been in operation since parking offences were decriminalised and enforced as contraventions by local authorities [instead of the police] over twenty years ago. The level of the penalty has risen over the years but parking enforcement by councils is much fairer [including a grace period] than it is on private land. However, local authorities are increasingly using CCTV to monitor parking where there are time restrictions or absolute contraventions [like driving in a bus lane during its operating times or making a banned turn] which means that the chances of getting caught are very much higher than when every incident had to be observed and recorded by an enforcement officer on patrol.

It seems wrong to put people off making a challenge by then denying them the lower rate of charge. I suppose it is to deter making silly challenges, but it has a negative side to people who feel they may have a case but are not confident enough to pursue it.

I believe a lot of the issues about paying penalties would disappear if the charges were more reasonable. I look forward to what Which? have to say on Thursday 🙂

I too would like to see lower penalties, especially in the private sector where parking has become a big profit-centre for little investment and the enforcement is particularly intolerant of minor infractions. In the public sector there is no requirement to make a profit out of parking control but the books must balance taking one year with another. The cost of installing and then maintaining the signs and lines, plus the enforcement, must be a significant outlay that needs to be covered by the revenue. My snap opinion is that most of the queries raised in this Conversation concern parking on private land.

Malcolm, to let you (and everyone else) know, our legal team is still looking over the responses we’ll be giving, so unfortunately I’m going to have to delay today’s scheduled Convo on the subject. I’m hoping that we’ll have it ready for tomorrow.

No penalty charge for that George.

Norma Stirman says:
10 April 2019

I have just received a parking fine of £90 – reduced to £45 if paid within 2 weeks.
The company LDK suggest they have authority to charge this notice as I did not have a permit to park there. I was visiting someone close by and need to park as close as possible as I have a blue badge.
There was not a parking charge notice on my car nor could I see a notice to warn me of the permit needed. It was on a council estate and the first I have heard of it is through the letter received today 20 days later.
Can you please advise me what to do. Thank you

Yvonne says:
10 April 2019

My daughter parked in an area that had no signs that it was a private car park, a few weeks later she received a fine for £60, she appealed the fine , explaining that there was no signs and other cars were there. After several letters and appealing the fine back in September 2018, she heard nothing until now April 2019 from a solicitor saying she owes £250, if it is not paid she will have a CCJ against her, which she is worried about. The car park area has since had signs put up and is owned by a private individual. Can any thing be done? Advice needed

Recently on 25th October 2018 the Tram Train service started on its 2 year trial running from Sheffield to Rotherham Parkgate. It runs to Parkgate Retail Park. The parking here before this was free and leave when you wanted to. In November a big sign went up advising that the limit for parking is 5 hours and cannot return within 2 hours.
It was negotiated the Tram Train could have some parking bays and were allowed 31 spots and are fenced off from the rest of the parking. As I work in Sheffield I started using the park and ride.Everything was going nicely until 28th March. A week later i received a PCN from UKCPS stating I overstayed on this day. There are no signs stating the terms and conditions in this area only the the parking times. There are signs outside this area but are hard to read as they are placed at ita height above my head. You have to look for them.
I did the informal appeal to UKCPS and it was rejected the next day. This was on line. My advice on this is write to them. Now I have gone to the IAS and am waiting.
It turns out with other people that park there they have received PCNs. Strange thing is why have we only received 1 PCN when we park practically every day in this area. I feel it is intimidation to stop me parking there .
I shopped regularly at Parkgate on a weekend but not any more

amanda ritson says:
11 April 2019

I received a parking ticket of £100 I was approx 7min late the reason for this was that my elderly mother slipped and fell on the ice . She was badly shaken but still made the effort to hurry back to car even with an injured ankle. I contacted the company they said they wld get back to me with a decision . I received a letter today saying I now owed them £160 because of late payment and that they had decided against my appeal. How can this possibly be righ?

Technically you contravened the parking regulations. What is sad is that the company did not accept your explanation and show some goodwill. What is wrong is that contraventions trigger extortionate charges. Let’s hope the request to Which? that they campaign to reduce the charges to acceptable levels bears fruit. We should know tomorrow what the Which? legal team have to say.

Susan says:
28 April 2019

About a month ago I received 2 letters demanding parking fine payments for a vehicle I do not own and addressed to a company I have never heard of. One was from Walsall Council and the other from Euro Car Parking. They were for 2 different dates and places. I have had to write to Walsall Council as they do not have an email appeals procedure and I explained the situation and asked for them to rely by 4th April 2019. I have heard nothing back from them. I emailed an appeal to Euro Car Parking explaining everything again and got one of their automated replies saying it could take up to 35 days to respond. That was 28 days ago and I have not heard anything from them either. I have also been in touch with the DVLA and have now got a letter back from them which I can show to people and it states that the the vehicle in question has nothing to do with my address. My question is….. can I claim any form of compensation from Walsall Council and Euro Car Parking for the stress and time it has taken me to put appeals in and also I am out of pocket for postage and admin costs with having to do phone calls and send letters. I am suspecting that the vehicle in question may be a lease vehicle or a hired vehicle and they have my address down incorrectly ( or fraudulently). How can I find out who gave my address to Walsall Council and Euro Car Parking as it is an offence to keep data which is incorrect. Advice gratefully received!

Elsza Reilly says:
15 May 2019

Hi. We recently received a Parking Eye fine for being 11 minutes over the allotted 3 hours. However, we were in the shopping centre car park after all the shops had closed and the car park was virtually deserted. We have appealed but wondered if anyone else had experienced the same thing?

Susan says:
15 May 2019

I wouldn’t expect any sympathy from Parking Eye….. it could be the middle of the night and no cars parked at all but if you enter one of their monitored car parks and a charge would normally be due, trust me they will send a fine regardless of the circumstances. Trying to communicate with the company is also impossible. I would try going to the owners of the shopping area as I have had a Parking Eye fine revoked after an intervention from a shopping centre owner. I appealed to them directly because I had been given misinformation from a shop employee about free parking on a Bank Holiday. I didn’t bother to read the parking notices once I had been told that. My fault for being naïve but it got sorted in the end.