/ Motoring

Have you ever challenged a parking fine?

Private parking fines are on the agenda in the high court as one unhappy consumer is challenging the law. But we feel this case goes beyond parking, which is why we’ve been permitted to intervene…

A parking fine is an annoyance all drivers have probably experienced. That sinking feeling when you return to your car to see that yellow notice under the windscreen wiper is never a welcome one, yet we pay up nonetheless.

But Barry Beavis who received an £85 parking fine for over-staying by 56 minutes, has decided to take the private car park operator to court.

What the law states

Since the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 came into force, the law states that private land owners are banned from towing, blocking-in, clamping or immobilising a vehicle without lawful authority. This was put in place in an effort to control clamping by rogue firms.

However, fines can still be issued, for example, if a vehicle owner stays longer than their allotted time. While the fine is meant to be proportionate, sometimes they can be over £100 a fine and it’s the excessive amount of these fines that Barry Beavis is challenging.

Split opinions on parking fines

His lawyers have argued that ‘to be lawful, charges should be set at levels meant only to compensate for any loss in achieving the aim of deterring over-stayers and not to make large profits’. They felt that ‘the losses to ParkingEye were very small administrative costs, and its charges were so excessive as to be unenforceable’.

However, the Independent Parking Committee has argued that fines are ‘the only protection that landowners have short of installing expensive barrier equipment’. While also adding that people have a ‘choice’ if they want to park there or not. It’s for those reasons that the private car park operator feels the ‘level of charges are neither extortionate nor unconscionable but within the bounds of reasonableness’.

This is bigger than parking fines

We’ve decided to intervene in the case because it has ability to set a precedent well beyond the parking industry. If Mr Beavis were to lose the case, it could have a wider impact on the law for penalty charges and unfair terms, which is why the Court of Appeal has granted us permission to share what, we feel, will be the wider implications of any decision.

The worry is that any decision in favour of the parking operator could perhaps see a relaxation of the law on penalty charges. There’s then potential for higher fines and charges to creep in across a whole range of consumer markets.

Even if the final results of the case could see the Court ruling in favour of the private parking operator, we hope they’ll take our views on penalty charges into account.

Have you had a parking fine you think was an excessive amount? Or do you feel it’s fair for parking companies to fine if you over-stay your time?

[UPDATE 04/11/2015] – The Supreme Court today gave its judgement on Barry Beavis’ case. Disappointingly, he lost.

We intervened in the case to ensure important consumer rights that protect people from excessive fines in all sectors were not watered down. However, parking fines issued by private companies have been ruled as fair and proportionate by the Supreme Court..

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
Darren says:
4 October 2016

Any advice welcome.
I recently parked in Athenaeum car park in Plymouth having travelled down for a nephews graduation. Its a 24hr car park and I purchased a 24hr ticket at 8.30PM at night in what was a dim lit car park.
I returned to the car park the next day to fetch something from the car to find a PCN on the car. Apparently, according to a attendant there, I had parked in “the wrong space” reserved for short stay parking, although the small wording pointed out to me on the bottom of the sign is ambiguous to say the least. This space was 5 yards from where I apparently should have parked. I had 10 hours left on my ticket when the notice was issued.
Can this be challenged ? and which is the best way to go about it ?

Guest
Darren says:
4 October 2016

Any advice welcome.
I recently parked in Athenaeum car park in Plymouth having travelled down for a nephews graduation. Its a 24hr car park and I purchased a 24hr ticket at 8.30PM at night in what was a dim lit car park.
I returned to the car park the next day to fetch something from the car to find a PCN on the car. Apparently, according to a attendant there, I had parked in “the wrong space” reserved for short stay parking, although the small wording pointed out to me on the bottom of the sign is ambiguous to say the least. This space was 5 yards from where I apparently should have parked. I had 10 hours left on my ticket when the notice was issued.
Can this be challenged ? and which is the best way to go about it ?

Guest

You should be able to challenge the issue of a parking charge notice and details of how to go about it should be printed on the ticket or any accompanying paperwork. Although the basic process is the same, each company has its own arrangements so there is no standard answer to your question. You can submit the information you have given here but it might help if you provided a bit more detail on why you did not park in the long-stay bays because that seems to be the sole justification for issue of the ticket.

I note from their website that PPS [Premier Parking Solutions] boast of their success in fighting driver’s appeals against parking charges and are overjoyed at the judge’s ruling in the Barry Beavis case – so be prepared for a rough ride.

Guest

It may help some aggrieved parking offenders to consult the BPA Code of Practice to see what you might exploit. I challenged a penalty. I’d parked in a car park with the first 2 hours free but you had to take a ticket. I forgot. My fault. But I objected to being penalised £60 for a mistake; I’d have paid £20. In the end their final notice to pay, with an excess charge added, came outside the time the BPA recommended and they dropped the action.

britishparking.co.uk/Code-of-Practice-and-compliance-monitoring

Guest

Presumably, Malcolm, the code of practice only applies to BPA member firms, and membership is not compulsory.

I think the private parking industry is out of control and the BPA merely tries to keep it a millimetre away from the line of illegitimacy. So few towns have adequate parking capacity, and very few municipal car parks, with the result that the private operators and the landowners are making a fortune.

Perhaps local authorities should be given the power to make local orders regulating the rates, terms and conditions for chargeable off-street parking, and have licensing powers to regulate operators just as they do for various other services [like taxicabs and drivers] that need controlling to prevent exploitation of the public.

Guest
John Fielden says:
21 October 2016

Just received yesterday 20th October, a Parking Charge Notice from ParkingEye referring to Macclesfield General Hospital where I parked on 4th October and paid the required £2.20 being issued with a ticket confirming payment. The ticket says to keep it as evidence of payment, how long is it reasonable to be expected to retain this bit of paper? You’ve already guessed of course that the car was cleaned and the bit of paper 5 cm by 5 cm no longer exists.

Guest
Castle says:
21 October 2016

Under the current law the PPC has 6 years to bring a claim in court.

Guest

John – The Parking Charge Notice should be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle within 15 days of the alleged contravention. If you parked on 4 October and still have not received a PCN you are in the clear.

Guest

Hi. I have just received a parking fine of £60 for being 29 minutes over my ticket time. The date of the incident was 29th September and I have received the fine today 22nd October. Should I pay this as they threaten to raise the fine to £100 if not paid within 28 days?
Thanks

Guest

If you contravened clearly-displayed parking regulations then the penalty is valid. You will take a chance, if you don’t pay, that they will pursue you to the courts if necessary. I’d pay.

We need a campaign to put a stop to excessive parking penalties.

Guest
Castle says:
22 October 2016

No don’t pay; in order for the registered keeper to be held liable they must write to them within 14 days. If they don’t, only the driver may be liable and they don’t know the driver’s name at present. Furthermore, if the car park allows the driver to stay longer, providing they pay; then the £100 would be an unenforceable penalty.

Guest

It seems that under the Protection of Freedom Act 2012,

if a notice was not given to the driver but sent to the registered keeper:
“(4)The notice must be given by—

(a)handing it to the keeper, or leaving it at a current address for service for the keeper, within the relevant period; or

(b)sending it by post to a current address for service for the keeper so that it is delivered to that address within the relevant period.

(5)The relevant period for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4) is the period of 14 days beginning with the day after that on which the specified period of parking ended.

If a notice was given to the driver but not acted on and therefore sent to the registered keeper:

(5)The relevant period for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4) is the period of 28 days following the period of 28 days beginning with the day after that on which the notice to driver was given.

(6)A notice sent by post is to be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, to have been delivered (and so “given” for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4)) on the second working day after the day on which it is posted; and for this purpose “working day” means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday in England and Wales.

Is the a correct interpretation?

Guest
Castle says:
22 October 2016

Basically yes; so in Ian’s case, if a ticket was placed on his vehicle then the notice to the RK cannot be issued until at least 28 days afterwards and no later than 56 days. If no ticket was left on his vehicle, the notice to the RK must be received by the RK within 14 days. In Ian’s case, the RK received the notice on day 23 so they have no liability under the POFA2012.

Guest
Jeremy Baker says:
26 October 2016

I have received a parking charge for private land at West Quay Retail Park, Hull by UKCPS of Leeds trying to stitch me for £100 for leaving my car! I returned to the car after 55 minutes and parked within the lines as expected and then caught them pouncing on cars as soon as the driver left the car. This is quite clearly illegal and fraudulent, but they are now demanding payment or will take me to court! Advice please?!

Guest

There are a number of posts elsewhere about this car park. One says the regulations require you to stay on site when you park. What regulation did the penalty notice say you had contravened?

Guest

This is interesting malcolm , is it the rules that you do not leave the retail park ? If that is the case then it is no different from the rules of Morrison,s car park where you get a very hefty fine if you park your car there and go to work elsewhere for hours as that,s what people were doing using it as a works car park .Also you have 2 hours to shop ,over it you get fined. It must be the case that in addition to car park staff there is CCTV to verify the fact you left the car park , unless they physically watch every customer parking there .If he actually left the park then I agree with you he broke the regulations

Guest

It seems to be quite usual for retail parks managed by property companies to penalise people who park there, possibly visit one of the shops, and then go to another place before returning to their car. These rules are rarely displayed prominently and the penalties are out of all proportion to the contravention. As Duncan says, the enforcement of these regulations is conducted aggressively with a punitive purpose in mind. It’s a shame that many of the stores on these sites cannot relocate to town centres to fill up the empty spaces and save us from having to drive for miles to get a tin of paint.

Guest

About a month ago, I parked in a retail store car park in a space designated for the store I visited. It was only when I left I noticed a parking notice stating 90 minutes parking and I had been there for 2 hours.

As more than 15 days have passed, I assume I can stop crossing my fingers now. 🙂

Guest

alfa, you can, just, I think. The Protection of Freedom Act allows 14 days plus I think 2 days from the date the ticket was issued, assuming no penalty notice was stuck on your windscreen

Guest

Nothing stuck on my windscreen, but just noticed cameras. I got caught by outstaying a very short time in Lidl when they introduced a parking limit controlled by cameras and I didn’t realise they were there.

Guest
Daren says:
7 November 2016

I parked for 14 minutes, according to PCN letter from Euro Car Parks, without a ticket as I didn’t have change for machine. In fact, the 14 minutes was recorded by their entry and exit cameras, so includes time searching for a space. I had forgotten to take change on way to work and nobody I asked at machines could change a note for me to pay. I must he waited only 5 minutes or so around machine, but explanation rejected. £100 charge or £60 if paid quickly after failed internal appeal. I can appeal to POPLA, but if found against me will be charged £100. It doesn’t seem proportionate to me, but also why do they not allow an appeal to POPLA and still allow £60 to be paid if appeal fails? I have parked in that car park many times, but not any more or in any privately run car park if I can help it. My £60 will be recovered this way over a few months. Euro Car Parks will not get my money in future.

Guest

“It doesn’t seem proportionate to me” is many people’s view. The whole penalty system is extortionate and I’d like to see a Which? campaign to make it more equitable.

However, while your particular reason for not paying is understandable, many could simply park. do their business quickly, leave without paying and offer the same explanation of having no change. Were alternative payment methods – mobile phone – for example not available?

I rather thought if you appealed your extra penalty was not imposed if you lost – presumably as long as you then pay up promptly.

Guest

With most operators, and certainly local councils, you only get one chance to pay the discounted charge and that is either within a specified period after receipt of the PCN or following a failed internal challenge made within the time limit. For any appeal after those processes the full penalty is payable if it is not successful. The discount used to be 50% – now it seems to have been reduced to 40%. £100 is a ludicrous amount to penalise drivers for any amount of unpaid parking time in an off-street location provided for the purpose of parking. I appreciate the commercial reasons for deterring unpaid-for parking in shopping centre car parks but the penalty charge should be proportionate to the hourly rate [like twice off-peak, thrice at peak times].

Guest
Castle says:
7 November 2016

Driving around looking for a space has been ruled by the courts not to be parking and second, all BPA members must allow a grace period of 10 minutes to leave a car park. You should appeal this to POPLA.

Guest

it is fair to give time to look for a space, but Daren exceeded the 10 minutes grace, from what he says.

Guest

I think the proposition is that Daren spent seven minutes looking for a space and seven minutes trying to leave the car park after realising that he would not be able to put any money in the machine. Personally I think it’s stretching it and I would pay up now to get the event behind me. Because he was going to get fined anyway, Daren could just have left the car in the car park and then exited before the first time limit was up; the penalty would have been the same and could have been paid at the discounted rate since a challenge would have been pointless.

Guest
Castle says:
7 November 2016

These are not “fines” or “penalties”, they are claims for damages for an alleged breach of a contract. From my reading no contract was aggreed as it was frustrated, so at worse, Daren was trespassing. According to the BMPA, Euro Car Parks has taken just one person to court in the last three years.

Guest

Semantically you are correct, Castle, but people know what ‘fines’ and ‘penalties’ are so I thought it made sense to use language they understand.

Guest
John Caws says:
14 January 2017

My car is “owned” by a Finance Company. I am the Registered Keeper. On or around 25th October the Finance Co. received a PCN dated 19th October re an alleged offence on 31st August. – 55 days after the event. As the Registered Keeper I have never received a PCN addressed to me.
On these grounds (& others such as being denied the opportunity to submit mitigating circumstances by Vehicle Control Services admitting only 1 letter from me as an appeal) I appealed to the Independent Arbitration Service. but my appeal has been dismissed, I think just on the grounds that the PCN was legally issued.
Should I still contest the Fine do you think?
Thanks.
John Caws.

Guest

As far as I am aware under the Protection of Freedom Act 2012,
if a notice was not given to the driver but sent to the registered keeper:
“(4)The notice must be given by—
(a)handing it to the keeper, or leaving it at a current address for service for the keeper, within the relevant period; or
(b)sending it by post to a current address for service for the keeper so that it is delivered to that address within the relevant period.
(5)The relevant period for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4) is the period of 14 days beginning with the day after that on which the specified period of parking ended.

If this is correct, and no notice was attached to the vehicle, i would have thought the penalty notice was outside the time limit and invalid. Perhaps Which? could correct this?

Guest
casper says:
14 February 2017

Not seen this one before. ? I parked in a London tube stn car park which had ANPR cameras at 5.15pm on a Sat. Attended the pay machine and paid the full day rate of only £2 only for all day Sat/Sun. Paid by debit card and got a reciept. Returned and left the car park at 2300hrs and was photographed on in/out cameras.
7 days later get the ticket from NCP car parking for “not paying upon exit of the car park”….£60 please.

Searched some recently washed jeans and found the reciept in the back pocket(slightly cleaned) how lucky was that……..but it appeared that the machine at the car park had only printed 6 of the 7 digets of my car number on the reciept. So could see where a problem may have been raised with the ticket machine.
Luckily also I paid with a debit card and yes my bank statement showed money paid on that date to NCP at the Stn concerned and £2 shown.
Called NCP to advise them the following day and was met with “You must Appeal the ticket as we can do nothing yet” I advised them that my Appeal would be an acknowledgement of guilt perhaps and that they should check their ANPR machine to confirm dates/times payments and Car No. and wopuld awaut their response. NCP have refiused to do anything about this matter…..handed it to their collection company ZZPS who in turn have diled it with their Solicitors Wright Hassel Ltd. who keep hounding me with threats in letters and calls to my house which is x directory.
Im doing nothing in response and await possible court summons which will be defened as I can prove payment and no claim should have been made………….and with the documentary proof I anticipate a win…….ongoing.

Guest

Casper you are an inspiration to us all ,I wish you all the best as I cant possibly see how legally they can win unless the judge is “fixable ” . PLEASE !! keep in touch.