Here is how we can help you with Parking Fines
Parking Fines and Charges
It is often not cost effective to instruct a solicitor to assist with a Parking charge dispute. Work in this area is usually privately funded and thus legal fees are almost always much higher than the actual fine. Generally, a challenge can be dealt with independently by following the relevant appeals process. However, we understand there may be limited circumstances where clients would like to instruct us, on a private fee paying basis, to provide advice and assistance.
Private Parking – Charge Notice
A parking charge notice is different to a parking fine which may be issued by the local authority. A notice is usually an allegation that the contract between driver and landowner has been breached. The contract is entered into when a driver enters the private land to park. There must be sufficient signage to make the terms of the contract clear. If you did not see any signage you could request photographs and the specific Contract and terms and conditions of parking. If there is a Contract then the parking company should usually specify whether the fee claimed is a genuine pre assessment of loss (confirming it is the companies loss and how is this quantified).
Landowners have the right to charge and regulate parking on their land. Therefore, if you have parked in contravention of the landowners conditions it may be advisable to pay the fine / charge. However, such charges should be reasonable and generally reflect the loss incurred by the landowner. If you consider that the fine is unfair and that an average individual would also see the parking fine to be unreasonable, then it may be possible for you to challenge it.
Many people ignore ‘private’ parking fines, however, the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, allows landowners in private car parks to pursue the registered keeper (not just the driver) if an offence has been committed. Previously, enforcement was difficult if the landowner was unable to prove who was driving the vehicle. Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 states that a Claimant must give notice to the registered keeper of the vehicle to give them opportunity to pay at a reduced rate or dispute the charge. Landowners are no longer able to clamp vehicles.
If you receive a parking fine / charge notice – and consider this to be unfair or unreasonable – you can appeal to the parking company or local authority and request a ‘Parking on Private Land Appeals’ (POPLA) reference number – POPLA are the independent appeals service for parking charge notices on private land.
In general, the charge has to be reasonable and representative of any loss actually incurred by the company. If no loss and you had mitigating / exceptional circumstances then you might have grounds to appeal. There have been recent arguments which suggest that you should be allowed ten mins leeway if paid for a set period of parking – this reflects the time it might take to park, walk to machine, place a ticket on dashboard etc. It also allows for variation in your watch being slightly out of time – therefore not intentional.
Quite often individuals decide not to pay a fine as parking companies and/or landowners may not pursue all the way to Court. However, it seems lately that more and more private companies are following through with legal action.
If you do receive Court papers – do not ignore – as Judgement could be entered in default and enforcement action could be taken. If a Judgement not paid in full within 30 days then it goes on credit file as a County Court Judgement (CCJ) for 6 years. This could affect your credit rating. The parking company could also then enforce the debt and send bailiffs.
Most private companies such as ‘Civil Enforcement’ and ‘parking eye’ are members of the British Parking Authority and within their guidelines it is suggested that charges should not be extravagant nor unconscionable. If it is submitted that the charge falls outside of the British Parking Authorities Guidelines as stated in their Code of Practice then this should be raised in an appeal. A penalty which is designed to discourage particular behaviour must be reflective of a reasonable assessment of the loss (to the land owner or tenant of the car park) as a result of the breach. You may wish to argue that the parking charge is punitive, unfair and unreasonable in amount; not a genuine pre assessment of loss and that there is no evidence that the parties to an alleged Contract agrees to the amount which is to be paid by way of damages in the event of a breach of Contract. This will depend on the terms and signage along with the individual facts of your case.