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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70521
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have a private land parking charge notice. I had paid the

Customer Question

I have a private land parking charge notice. I had paid the correct amount for parking but the ticket was face down on the dashboard though the ticket could have been verified as valid by the serial number which is printed on both sides. I pointed this out and also claimed that a charge of £100 was disproportionate. I disputed the charge with the parking company and then through the independent appeal organisation they use. These were both dismissed. The independent appeal judged that if I didn't agree with the contract I shouldn't have parked there. I have appealed this type of decision before through POPLA and been satisfied with the judgement. The Company concerned directed the appeal to "Independent Appeals Service" which appears to be an organisation set up to rival POPLA. I have not received a letter dismissing my claim only an unsigned email. I suspect the independence of this organisation and I maintain that a charge of £100 for accidentally placing a piece of paper the wrong way up on a dashboard is unreasonable. I am happy to go to court to oppose the Company but would like to know my chances of success. I don' t particularly want to get into a protracted escalating series of exchanges with them.
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.

Do you have or can you get a copy or photo of the sign wording?

Thanks

Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I don' t have a copy of the sign wording it is not included in any of the paperwork. I can take a photograph of the sign on Thursday morning, but the 10 day period the appeal company specified expires on Thursday if taken from the date of the email they sent me - 8th Dec.
the wording on the charge note uses a contravention code (83) "Parked without clearly displaying a valid ticket/permit" The ticket was valid though face down (by accident) . This could have been verified from its serial number which was on both sides of the ticket - though the ticket inspector would have had to make an enquiry. Why else print the serial on both sides of the ticket?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
In the letter from the parking company they say that " the signs on the site clearly state "Valid Pay and DisplayTicket Holders Only". The go on to say "It is not unreasonable to expect motorists to check the signs in situ before leaving their vehicle. I did that, but that did not prevent me from leaving the ticket main face down - An accident. They say it was not displayed correctly. The appeal organisation support this saying that my argument "....is an interesting on, but not one I can agree with. It is clearly implicit that the ticket must be displayed and it is the information that was hidden in this case that needs to be displayed. To consider the requirement to display any other way does not make sense. I appreciate the serial number is ***** same on both sides.... If this was all that was needed to be displayed then why print the expiry time on the ticket." There was no question mark at the end of that sentence. I agree that it is conventional to place the ticket face up and I would normally do that.
I believe that I complied with the wording that they are disputing. I did display the ticket albeit face down and I was parked legally because I was a valid pay and display ticket holder.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Ok.
Do you go back to the location in question?
Can you check the wording of the signs?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The signs on the site state "Valid pay and display ticket holders only"
That is what they contend I have breached. The appeal organisation says it is implicit that the ticket must be displayed - which it was.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It is a shame you appealed to POPLA.
Are you asking if you have to pay?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I did NOT appeal to POPLA. I appealed to the organisation the Parking company told me I could appeal to . This was called "Independent Appeals Service" see *****@******.*** I do not believe this organisation is independent it appears to be used by some breakaway parking companies who aren't happy with POPLA appeals. My appeal was dismissed but I have not had a letter telling me this only an unsigned email.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, they are not. It would have been better to ignore them. All appealing has done is make them focus on your case.
Are you asking if you have to pay?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am happy to go to court if they want to. All the publicity says appeal - I didn't know this organisation was not legitimate. What is a court liable to say? I presume they will keep threatening me with escalating costs if I don' t pay. Advice please.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I didn't say it wasn't legitimate. Just that an appeal is pointless.
Have you sent them a copy of the ticket?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes I sent them a copy of the ticket.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
The difficulty with this is that you are trying to run the case on facts. On the facts that you present here, you almost certainly do not have a positive defence. It depends what the signs at the location say but they usually do say that the obligation is to 'display' not just 'have' a valid ticket. In terms of legal interpretations, they are absolutely right. It is implicit that the requirement is to display it correctly so that it can be viewed given the nature of parking tickets.
The question is whether they will ever sue and what is their loss anyway. That said, there is absolutely no point in arguing with them. They are never going to agree with you however brilliantly you argue.
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.
I will check the wording on the signs on Thursday and decide what to do then. From what they have quoted, the signs only said that I needed to be a valid pay and display ticket holder ie had a ticket.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It is worth checking that.
You generally though don't win these things on positive defences.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for that. You refer to whether they will sue or not and "what is their loss anyway". I cannot believe that a valid identifiable ticket displayed face down constitutes a quantifiable loss of £100. Even if a positive defence is not possible, can I not dispute this? Even if it is contractual?
.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
If this were a local authority fine there would be no defence on this basis. The law is quite clear that it has to be displayed.
On a contractual basis it is more complicated. A court might not like suing in those circumstances but the nature of parking tickets is that they do have to be displayed so that an attendant can tell upon inspection who can park there and who cannot.
It does depend what is in the signs though. Unless it is clearly spelt out that there must be display they would not be able to rely on it.
I'm happy to continue with this but please leave feedback for my answer.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Would it be best to ignore subsequent demands from the car prk Company or to advise them that I think their demand unreasonable and Ithat I will not pay ?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I would ignore them. All responding does is remind them of your case. They are never going to agree with you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK, I thought that would be the answer. Did you see the photograph of the sign that I sent? There are no instructions or terms beyond you have to be the holder of a ticket.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, I didn't.
But I would contest it on that basis. I can see the point they are making. Clearly it is implicit that a ticket will be displayed. But if they want to levy punishments under the contract then the terms need to be explicit.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Parking sign

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Parking sign

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
That doesn't say anything about the need to display a ticket.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Having now seen the signs how do you rate the chance of using this as a positive defence?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
If this were a local authority fine there would be no defence on this basis. The law is quite clear that it has to be displayed.
On a contractual basis it is more complicated. A court might not like suing in those circumstances but the nature of parking tickets is that they do have to be displayed so that an attendant can tell upon inspection who can park there and who cannot.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, I thought that the charge, being contractual, was not supposed to be punitive. You say that if they want to punish my omission they should spell out the conditions more clearly? I think that is all I need to know now.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
That is one of the myths that I mentioned above.
A claim in breach shouldn't be punitive.
If the contract sets down that a sum is due though that is not a punitive claim.
Also, they do usually escape by claiming that there have been admin costs.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I would say that the admin costs could not be predetermined therefore the predetermined charge of £100 is punitive. How would a court view that?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I have never found that argument very helpful in the long run when it is actually argued in court.
Usually they get around £30 for the admin costs, court courts and interest.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
And is that for a valid ticket, identifiable by visible serial number, displayed albeit upside down. Inadequate signage, practically bogus appeal system resulting in a £130 +/- punitive charge equivalent to not having paid at all? You seem to be suggesting I' d be better off paying it now.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, that is not what I have said.
I think I have really covered this above.
They do have a claim. It is a claim that is not cost effective to enforce therefore they probably will not.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, my defences are no defence and I have to rely on their unwillingness to proceed on the basis that it is not cost effective. They will threaten me for some time whilst I ignore them. If they do decide to go to court (as an example to others?) they have a greater chance of success against me than I do against them. I will be relying on the Courts's reluctance to entertain them based on the dispute being contractual - I will claim their signage gave insufficient guidance about the required method of display and the consequences of failure to do this. Is this correct?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, if the worst happens you can rely on the facts above but usually these things succeed just because it isn't cost effective for them to sue.
They will certainly send some nasty letters but the chances you will be sued are low.
If the worst happens raise the signing point.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, is there any case law I can quote to say a) their case can only result in the original charge being upheld? and b) their ability to extract huge costs or interest does not exist?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No. It is all a question of fact not law.
Whether the signs are adequate in this case is a question of fact.
Whether or not the fine represents a punitive measure not the sum of their loss is a question of fact here and a general principle of law that it must. You won't meet with any resistance over that though. Judges will not deny that. It is a very widely accepted principle.
Small claims court costs are fixed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Jo C. I'll sit back and wait for the threats and not take any notice of them until I get a summons to the Small Claims Court. I rated the answers a few posts back so I assume you will be paid now?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, there is no need to do anything else.
All the best.