/ 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
Member

What Duncan has recommended is by far and away the best means of getting your grievance addressed. You need to hear the councillors for your area attempt to justify their scheme to your face. Make sure you get the local newspapers involved.

Many areas are experiencing the same problem with excessive numbers of cars without permits occupying the residents’ permit bays overnight when no permit is required; the usual way to deal with this is to restrict the overnight ‘free’ hours to, say, 19:00 to 07:30, or cut out the ‘free’ time altogether.

£30 a year does not seem an unreasonable charge for a permit that allows you to park anywhere in the zone – which might be very handy if there are local shops or facilities or workplaces within the zone – but the basic problem is probably that there are more cars owned by the residents than the streets have capacity for. Raising the permit prices to suppress demand is the only way to deal with that but it is not a fair or equitable solution as parking provision should be based on what people need not on how much they can pay. However, platitudes like that don’t solve the problem.

Member
kevin says:
12 March 2017

i parked my car in a disabled parking bay.placed my disabled parking badge on the windscreen and as i found on my return to my car,the badge had slipped down between my handbrake.must of happened when i closed the door. on my return a man was issuing me with a ticket for failing to display. i showed him my badge,.he said ring the company “smart parking” and they will cancel it. he then disappeared. i did as he said and they refused my explanation. £90 fine. i rang them and asked to be sent forms to appeal to POPLA. in the meantime, DRP debt collections have wrote demanding £160.00 for this fine.Even though im still awaiting appeal forms to be sent to me by Smart Parking.

Member

Something odd seems to have happened with the running order of this Conversation. It looks as though Kevin’s comment [12/03/2017 – 19:08] has replaced a previous comment [about a residents’ parking scheme] to which Duncan Lucas and I responded on 3 March 2017.

So far as Kevin is concerned I think he should contact Smart Parking as a matter of urgency so that he can pursue his appeal.

Member

Comment repositioned. [This comment is not the one to which Duncan Lucas and I responded on 3 March 2017 as shown below. The original comment about a resident’s parking scheme seems to have disappeared.]

Member

John-dont tell me Which is copying Trust Pilot where a business complains about a post and that post is removed ? You don’t miss anything John –do you !

Member

I hope it was just a glitch, Duncan. Or the poster might have requested its removal for some sensible reason but leaving our responses stranded. So far as I recall it was about a local authority raising the resident’s permit prices as a rationing mechanism. I trust Which? a lot more than I trust Trust Pilot but usually when a post has been removed there is a comment to support that decision and any subsidiary posts are removed as well. Strange.

Member

It could be a MySql blip; for some reason I’ve never fathomed, at busy times the db engine can occasionally miss things. It did a similar thing with two of my posts in The Lobby.

Member
Paul Hart says:
22 March 2017

I have recently had a “Parking Charge Notice” of £100 while visiting a rented apartment that we own. The urbanisation is covered by a private car parking company to stop miss use of the area. I had up to recently had guest visitors parking permit which where issued to the owners / tenants. The parking company has now been changed with out notifying me and the visitors parking has been scrapped again without notification to me. I found out these details when I visiting my tenant. Alas by the time I returned to move my car it had a Parking charge on it. In our latest set of minutes from our AGM it states that the “parking has improved since the introduction of parking fines scheme and would continue”
I have talked to the citizens advise and the management company of our apartments and I will also appeal to the parking company.
Any advise would be welcome.