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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have a question about parking charge notices. The Place

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I have a question about parking charge notices.
The Place Retail Park in Milton Keynes is a free-to-use car park operated by Total Parking Solutions. They have sent me a charge notice for staying longer than the permitted period, as detailed on the signs in the car park.
My understanding is that the law (even the 'Protection of Freedoms Act 2012') entitles TPS to recover losses for an overstay, which, in the case of a free car park, is nothing, regardless of the notices in the car park. Is this correct?
My understanding is also that their charge notice is a 'civil invoice', so there is no legal obligation to pay it. Is this correct?
Furthermore, only the police, government and local authority (council) have the authority to issue fines or penalties, so TPS is committing an offence under Section 40 of the 'Administration of Justice Act 1985' by claiming in a document to have some authority, which it does not have. Is this correct?
Many thanks for any brief advice you can give.
Best Regards,
Richard Sammut
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
No, its not that simple I'm afraid.
What do the signs say at the scene ? Can you remember or do you have a record?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Jo.

Yes, there were signs and yes, I did overstay. I do not dispute this.

I am questioning the legality of the fine, given that no material losses (such as parking charges) were incurred by TPS. I could put a sign in my car saying that I will fine anyone that takes a picture of it, but that does not give me the legal right to do so.


Please forget about that. It is a non issue unless the signs are badly drafted.
What I need to know is what the signs said?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK. I do not have a photograph of the sign or the text wording of the sign.

It might be worth checking when you go back there.
There is a good deal of nonsense on the internet about private land fines. It is right to say that they are very hard to enforce and probably they will not. It is not right to say they are impossible.
The issue of compensation for loss is the biggest myth. The basis for their claim is breach of contract. Under the law of breach of contract you can only claim compensation for loss. That does not just mean loss of the parking revenue though. They do try to claim for other things that are probably too remote from the breach but they do have a claim for admin losses.
Also, if the signs at the location specifically quote the sum of the fine then they have an argument that it is due under the contract rather than to represent the loss.
The truth is that probably the signs will be inadequate. They are generally. Private land companies are waking up to this issue and replacing some signs but nothing like the majority yet.
I don't think private land companies really intend to sue very often. They rely upon people just paying. The truth is that the public are waking up to the weakness of their position though and not paying so the companies are more aggressive than they used to be.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That is really helpful and just what I needed at this time, Jo. I will go back and record the wording of the sign and, if it doesn't specify the fine, I will probably hold out to call their bluff.

I would have thought that the store owners on the retail park wouldn't want their customers to be put off from bringing custom to their stores as a result of the car park operator, so I will probably make a fuss in Starbucks on that retail park and see what comes of that.

Finally, do you have a view on the possible breach of Section 40 of the 'Administration of Justice Act'? Obviously, you don't have visibility of the charge notice itself, but just as a general principle?



No, they won't but the merchant won't find out about this probably.
I wouldn't pursue the S40 Administration of Justice Act. There are people who disagree with me but I have never seen the application.