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.
Do you recall if there are any signs as you enter the car park dealin with where you can park or to the best of your memory are the only signs by the inidividual parking spaces you refer to please?
Do you have any photographic evidence (or could you collect it) that the space in question has no sign?
There was a general sign saying no parking, and by most of the bays it says to which company that bay belongs to.
I have no pictures of the car park.
What's the situation about these parking companies? How can I challenge them that i have caused no loss to them and £100 is far too much to charge for doing nothing?
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 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 simply instructing not to park somewhere 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 you choose to proceed depends on your appetite for risk. My general feedback in relation to any appeals process that may be offered by the company through them and / or through POPLA is that appeals are largely a waste of time in that POPLA is an industry body and therefore appeals have a tendancy to favour the parking companies which are also 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 you may be able to argue that they failed to provide adequate signage and therefore may fail to show that a contract was formed when you entered the car park or parking area; alternatively or in addition they may struggle to show any loss from your 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 you may either pay the amount demanded or simply ignore the various threatening letters that will ensue should you fail to do so. All they can do is issue proceedings in the County Court to sue you 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 easy. There is little evidence of large scale claims in the county courts though the Act is still relatively young.
Are you happy with the information I have provided to you above or is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?
Thanks for your helpful and detailed respond.
I don’t really want to ignore their letters, because it will just go on forever, I would like to put a stop asap without paying.
Do you know from where I can download a letter template which I can send to them? (I read online that there are some words which I need to include and some which I shouldn’t, but I’m not sure what they are).
Yes certainly - you could consider using the following template letter to get you started:
Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?
Just one more question.
I have chosen the reasson "
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. In my case, the [insert figure] charge you are asking for far exceeds the cost to the landowner of [insert details of the parking costs eg if the fee is £50 but parking costs £1-an-hour you’d need to have been there for 50 hours to justify the charge]."
In the car park there was no option to pay, so the landowner did not put a price for parking. So how do I tell them that the price which they are asking is far too much?
No problem. As you have identified the above clause assumes that the car park was a ticket buying car park. The reasons you would wish to consider is "insufficient signage" and that the fee does not reflect any true estimate of loss on their part. You could consider afte rthe words "in my case" saying something along the lines that in the event that someone authorised to park there was aunable to due to your having parked in the space, notwithstanding your contention that there was inadequate signage, the loss to that individual should not exceed the amount it would have cost them to seek alternative paid for parking elsewhere. You could confirm the cost of nearby parking if you wish and include this as an example.
Is there anything else I can help you with?