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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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I received a Parking Charge Notice from a company called Met

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I received a Parking Charge Notice from a company called Met Parking Services, for parking 22 minutes longer than the 60 minutes I was allowed at a McDonalds Restaurant in London. The Parking Charge Notice is for £100 but I have the option to pay £50 within a certain time.
I was offered the chance to appeal to Met Parking Services, which I did, but this appeal was rejected. It was explained that I can make a further appeal to POPLA (Parking On Private Land Appeals) but that if this rejected, I will have to pay the full amount of £100.
I have written to complain to McDonalds but they were not interested, saying the management of their parking facilities are dealt with by private companies such as Met Parking.
I returned to the McDonalds to see the signs stating the parking restrictions and I have to admit they are very clear and are placed all around the car park.
However, I feel £100 for parking 22 minutes longer than I was allowed is hugely excessive. This works out to the equivalent of £272 per hour or £136 per hour if I accept the charge and pay the reduced amount.
I have looked at various forums on the internet and read that these charges are nothing more than invoices and that most appeals are successful or if they are not, let the company take you to court, which they are unlikely to do.
I cannot disagree with the fact that I parked longer than I was allowed, it’s just the amount they are asking for is ridiculous. Parking in central London is £4 per hour or a flat fee of £2 at weekends, which is when I was parked.
Should I appeal or just accept it and pay the reduced amount?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
This is a private land fine. They are not parking fines whatever they may look like. I realise that many of them mimic those issued by the council or the police but they do not have the same authority.
A private land firm is not an emanation of the state. It does not have the right to punish you for the manner of your parking any more than your neighbours do.
This is essentially an invoice arising from a civil dispute arising from an alleged agreement whereby you agree to park for a fee. They say that you accepted a contract by parking there and breached it by staying too long or otherwise parking at variance with the contract. That is what is in dispute.
Private land fines used to be very easy to escape by refusing the details of the driver. They only have a contract with the driver. Unfortunately the Protection of Freedoms Act came into force in October 2012 and it makes the registered keeper liable for the penalty if he does not disclose the details of the driver within 28 days.
All that means is that the claim runs against the registered keeper. It just makes it easier to find the person against whom there should be enforcement.
The chances are high that they will not sue. Even though the law has recently changed in their favour and they were quite aggressive in the beginning, they do not sue in the majority of cases.
If they do sue then they would only have a claim for the sum of the original fine plus about £35 in costs. They will send you debt collection letters in which they will threaten to sue you for their debt collection costs. Do not be intimidated by that.
Even if they do go to court, they would still have to prove that the signs are adequate and clear. Quite often they are not.
They will send you some very nasty letters though. You will get debt collection letters making threats of legal action. They will probably get Graham Whyte solicitors to write to you as well. None of these are anything to worry about. It will not impact upon your credit history and it will not add to the costs.
Unless you actually get a court summons, none of these correspondences have any legal basis. If you do get a court summons then you can always part admit the claim and offer a small amount for their loss.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your answer. So if the dispute is that I accepted a contract to park there and breached it for staying too long, am I unlikely to win an appeal?

The parking signs are very clear and do state that “by parking in this car park you are entering into a contractual agreement”. I cannot dispute this, it is just the amount they are asking for is ridiculously high.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
You will lose an appeal. I wouldn't even think of using their internal appeal system. I would just invite them to sue.
You may win at court.
You could argue that the sum of the fine should represent their loss.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok. Thanks. I have come across the term ‘pre-estimate of loss’ in other peoples appeals. This is what I would argue if they sued me? Me parking longer than 60 minutes doesn't justify a cost of £100?

Also, if they did sue me, would I have attend a court and is this type of dispute heard in a small claims court? I have read somewhere that small claims are now dealt with online. I just need to take into account any time that would be lost in a court case.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It isn't that simple though. It depends what the signs said at the scene.
But it is a point that you could raise.
You would need to attend if you are contesting it but it would be a small claims court matter. That cannot be heard online. If you don't attend they will find against you.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69772
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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