Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask if you are satisfied that there was sufficient signage at the car parking question to allow the reasonable user of the car park to know of the parking restrictions and charges for enfringement please?
Thanks. Private tickets of this kind used to be essentially unenforceable if the registered keeper refused to identify the driver but that changed just over a year ago when the Protection of Freedoms Act outlawed clamping and provided enhanced measures for parking companies to enforce private tickets. The PoFA provides that if a registered keeper refuses to identify the driver within 28 days then the registered keeper is liable for the demand.
The period of 28 days expires 28 days from the date you are given notice as registered keeper.
The Act has not authorised private parking firms to issue fines. These demands are still nothing better than invoices demanding payment for breach of contract - the contract is formed by the use of signs warning to display tickets/permits or risk a ticket (invoice) at the advertised rate. Being a contract the ordinary rules of contract apply whereby they must prove that they displayed adequate signage to enable a driver parking there to know of the requirements; evidence of loss on their part as a result of the breach of contract and evidence that they have attempted to mitigate their loss.
How your son chooses to proceed depends on his appetite for risk. My general feedback in relation to POPLA is that appeals are largely a waste of time in that it is an industry body and therefore appeals have a tendancy to favour the parking companies which are ultimately only interested in making money and therefore rarely grant appeals themselves. In fact I have never heard of a successful appeal however that is not to say that they do not occur as logically if an appeal is successful the individual concerned is unlikely to be contacting a lawyer. However it remains the case that as nothing more than an invoice the parking company have to go to court to force you to pay just as with any other debt.
If there were to do so he may be able to argue that they failed to provide adequate signage and therefore may fail to show that a contract was formed when your son entered the car park or parking area; alternatively or in addition they would struggle to show any loss from your sons alleged breach of overstaying particularly if there were other free spaces available. They will attempt to claim admin costs and so on but they would still struggle to demonstrate a loss of any significance compared to the amount they will no doubt attempt to claim - solicitors costs cannot be claimed if they go to court as the matter would be a small claims hearing if it was pursued. Generally a doubling of the fee if not paid (as is often provided for on these claims) within a certain period is almost certainly unenforceable in contract law.
Accordingly your son may either pay the amount demanded or simply ignore the various threatening letters that will ensue should he fail to do so. All they can do is issue proceedings in the County Court to sue him for the amount demanded plus costs which would be in the order of £35 plus some minor allocation fees if the matter proceeded to a hearing. Historically they almost never did so because they would find it very difficult to win. Now they have a better position in that they can sue the registered keeper under the above act but they must still prove loss and so on as above which is not straightforwad. There is little evidence of large scale claims in the county courts though the Act is still relatively young and I gather one or two have started to filter through with judges varying in the amount of costs they will allow.
The fact of a PO Box no being supplied as address is not material to their claim. A PO Box no is a valid address for service and therefore does not impact the quality of their claim against your so.
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