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Parking fines on private land – to pay or not to pay?

Have you ever been given a parking ticket after parking on private land and been told by your friends and family that you don't have to pay it? they will get fed up and go away? Well, this could be wrong and by the time you know it your £80 parking ticket has increased to £350 and your sitting in the Civil Courts.

Recently the Citizens Advice reported a drastic rise in people looking for help about parking fines on private land, they claimed that enquiries trebled from 16,300 to 50,000. When they analysed their calls over three months they found that the average parking penalty was £83 but others were given fines as high as £300!

So what constitutes private land? Generally speaking, places such as retail parks, supermarkets, hospitals, airports, railway stations, and fast food restaurants are places where private parking is provided.

On private land, a parking charge notice will either be stuck to the vehicle or be clocked by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and then a ticket sent in the post. However, this can only be done if the car park is part of the British Parking Association (BPA) or the Independent Parking Committee (IPC). If the car park operator is not accredited by either of the above then they will be unable to obtain your details from the DVLA and it would be extremely difficult for them to pursue/contact you. However, some motorist make these unaccredited car parks job easy and write to the operator to complain about having a ticket put on their car, and in doing so, provide them with their name and address.

Most private car parks issue tickets called ‘Parking Charge Notices’, these are not backed up by Law however, this does not mean you won't end up in Court for not paying them. It is still a breach of contract. 

Whilst it may be time consuming and costly for a car parking operative to take you to the Civil Courts, if they want to, they can. Nowadays we are seeing increasing amounts of people being taken to the small claims court for not paying a parking ticket on private land and often the parking operative will distribute their claims to different businesses to pursue. 

If ultimately you end up in the Civil Courts and lose, you will then have to pay the costs in addition to the original parking charge. After that if you still refuse to pay the penalty then you could end up with a County Court Judgment against you, which will of course go on your credit file and damage your chances of obtaining credit for things like mortgages, mobile phone contracts and car finance. 

If you believe that the parking companies are just going to ‘give up’ or ‘get bored’ then you are mistaken. In March 2017, a woman was given a parking fine of almost £25,000 by a Judge after she ignored over 200 parking charge notices.

Given that, we believe the following hints and tips would be helpful if you walk to your car and see a dreaded yellow sticker on your window screen….

  • Don’t pay upfront if you feel intimidated, always go and do your research about the car park and the terms and conditions of parking there.
  • If the parking operator is not accredited and you do not get any follow up letter in the post then they are unlikely to be able to obtain your details from the DVLA and will not pursue to matter.
  • However, if they are part of either of the two accredited parking associations then they will have to follow proper codes of practice for issuing tickets, a maximum charge notice and appeal process.
  • If your appeal is rejected you then have 28 days to apply to the independent Parking on Private Lands Appeals (POPLA) scheme. 
  • And remember, landowners have the right to charge for and enforce parking, so pay the fine if you have broken the rules. Unless of course you believe you had a right to park there because of inadequate signage etc. 

So no matter how convinced you are that you can park there and with the fine ‘hotspots’ being pay and display car parks followed by supermarkets, hospitals and airports we strongly suggest checking the terms and conditions of parking and most importantly checking how long you have left on your ticket!

Posted in: Civil Litigation

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