Check your ticket carefully to see if the ticket has been issued by the police or local authority. If not, then it is likely to be a private car parking company issuing the ticket. The ticket will say if it is issued by the police or a local authority. Private companies are very careful to make their tickets look as if they are from these bodies. Assuming that we are dealing with a private sector parking charge then the following applies.
The charge is not a fine. What the ticket represents is a demand for payment of compensation for an alleged breach of contract. In law someone claiming compensation will only be entitled to recover their actual losses arising from the breach of the contract. This is very unlikely to be anywhere near the amount demanded from you.
In order to be able to claim any compensation from you the company must be able to demonstrate that there was a contract. This requires there to be prominent signs setting out the terms and conditions including those for charges.
They must also be able to demonstrate that they suffered loss and what the level of that loss is.
The parking company is also probably not the land owner and if they seek to enforce this they will at some point have to prove their right to enforce (they may set out the basis of their right on the ticket or the signs).
Some advisers are of the view that the best thing to do is to totally ignore the ticket and see what steps the company takes. Enforcing these charges is an expensive and time consuming business and it may be that the response to your disdainful silence is that they simply write off the alleged debt.
This may lead to a further letter and perhaps threats from their legal enforcers.
If you wish to respond either to the ticket itself or to a subsequent letter if one arrives then your letter should include the following:
- Date and place of alleged contravention, the ticket number and your registration number
- That you refuse to pay.
- Why you refuse to pay , this may include some of the following easons:
#the contravention did not occur, (eg their employee got it wrong and refer to evidence)
#there was insufficient signage, attach photographs to support your point. Stating that in the absence of sufficient signage there is no contract between you and the land owner and therefore there is no question of any money being owed by you to them.
# XXXXX circumstances. Eg that you accept you were parked in contravention of an agreement but there was a good reason for it )eg collecting/delivery an ill child perhaps)
# XXXXX parked on their land.
# the ticket was issued before the time allowed to pay has elapsed.
#any other reasons
And always argue that
# The fee is disproportionate, your letter should include something similar to the paragraph set out below but tailored to your exact needs.
According to the Unfair Consumer Contract Regulations, parking charges on private land must not exceed the cost to the landowner during the period the motorist is parked there. The principals of contract law also preclude you from claiming compensation for losses you have not suffered. In my case, the £xx charge you are asking for far exceeds the cost to the landowner of ( Insert some figures. If the cost of parking is £2.00 per hour then an over stay of 15 minutes may be worth 50p + a good will contribution to their admin costs of say £2 if you are feeling generous). You could then make an offer in line with your estimate of their losses to settle the dispute.
- Finally tell them this is your final correspondence and you will not respond until they have answered all you points.
Hopefully this will be the end of the matter but if it is not then ultimately one of 3 things will happen. The parking company will continue to threaten but give up in the end, you can start an appeal at POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals) (http://www.popla.org.uk/makinganappeal.htm) or the company can start a claim in the small claims court against you.
You can bring an appeal using the arguments set out above or you can defend the claim in the same way.
The reality is that, faced with an informed and unintimidated person the company who are essentially involved in trying to intimidate money out of you may well give up realising that it is not cost effective to go after you when there are so many other people who will simply pay up.