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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 69257
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Has the law and/or advice changed recently with regard to whether

Customer Question

Has the law and/or advice changed recently with regard to whether parking charge notice penalties might be deemed excessive and whether or not parking charge notices should be ignored?

I parked in a bay on a retail park early last December at about 6pm. It was dark, raining and the car park was virtually empty. The first 30 minutes parking was free and I expected to be away in 30 minutes but was considerably delayed. I received a parking charge notice for £100, reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days, from Excel Parking.

I was shocked by the amount involved and looked on the internet where the majority of advice seemed to be to ignore the charge notices and the company would eventually go away. There was also a Youtube Watchdog interview conducted by XXXXX XXXXX where interviewee, when asked what he would do on receiving such a notice, made a paper plane of it and threw it to the back of the studio. I also found a court case, I think in March 2012, where it had been deemed that £100 was a penalty and not a reasonable amount to impose on an offender. Searching the internet now, I have not been able to find these again and the consensus now seems to be to appeal to POPLA.

I am confused and uncertain as to why I should be finding such differing advice over the space of one month. Most friends have said ignore the notices.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Who is the issuer please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The issuer of the parking charge notice was Excel Parking Services Ltd. based in Sheffield. The land parked on was private (retail park).

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

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. 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.

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. They have no claim for 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.

Also, they will have to prove that they have suffered loss. They may be able to claim a very small amount in administration costs but it is going to be the sum they are trying to claim from you. Their loss would seem to amount to no more than about £5.

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 £5 for their loss.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 69257
Experience: Over 5 years in practice.
Jo C. and other Traffic Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for the reply which I find very reassuring. Excel is threatening to appoint debt recovery agents;- I was a little concerned about big burly men appearing on the doorstep.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No problem and all the best.

Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’. You can also bookmark my profile

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