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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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On Christmas Eve night 2014 I parked in a parking bay

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On Christmas Eve night 2014 I parked in a parking bay fronting some closed shops. It was the sort of open parking area that usually fronts shops, as a single strip of parking bays, divided from the main roadway by the public pavement. Such parking bays are normally local authority owned and either don't have parking restrictions, or have restrictions up to 6:00pm. Where I parked however was, as I later found out, privately owned and had free parking for 1 hour.
There was little obvious notice to point out the private nature of the parking bay, or the consequences if overstaying. Indeed had I known I wouldn't have parked there, as there are plenty of unrestricted parking opportunities very nearby. I had parked there for 3.5 hours. A few weeks later I received a penalty notice through the post.
After looking online for advice I agreed to pay the local authority parking cost for 4 hours (£3.60), even though the nearby council car park was free at this time in the evening. I stated anything greater charge overvalued the parking, and was paying even though I felt insufficient notice was present in the immediate parking area. The demand was £100, reduced to £60 if paid in 2 weeks. My cheque was returned, demanding the full amount.
Again in early Match 2015 I returned my cheque suggesting their demand was unreasonable. I didn't hear anything further and thought the matter closed. In early April 2016 I received a demand for £200 from a debt collection company. I now checked if my cheque from the previous year had been cashed, but it had not.
I understand they were waiting for the Beavis ruling. As my offer was not challenged I would consider that following Beavis a responsible thing would be to re-issue the original ticket based on the now clarified precedent. Had the Beavis ruling been made prior to my original response then I may have settled differently.
I recently investigated the parking signage on the site, I notice photos taken in August 2015 showed 1 solitary sign facing outward, since then signs now face both sides of the post, at each end of the entrance/ exit to the parking bay roadway. None of these signs are illuminated, but may be reflective. At the time I parked in 2014 I am led to believe not even the single notice had been erected (although I can't confirm that - I certainly was not aware of any notice, and had I been aware I wouldn't have parked there.)
My friend parked next to me, arriving 10 mins earlier than me, and left 2 mins after, and didn't receive any such notice!
Given the matter is now in the hands of a debt collection company can I still challenge the original notice? Can I challenge the current demand of £200, even though my offer (pre-Beavis) was never challenged, or turned down the second time by the original parking enforcement company? Can the fact that parking signs have definitely been increased and improved on the site (possibly from previous failed court actions???) be a factor in me challenging the lack of signage meaning there was not sufficient notice to inform of the restrictions?

So, in short, you had a private land fine?

Did you offer to pay £60 within two weeks?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, based on online advice at the time (pre-Beavis) I offered to pay the cost of nearby council parking for the total period I parked in the bay (£3.60) at stated the invoiced cost of £60 seriously overvalued the parking). At that time in the evening all the surrounding parking is free.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The parking restrictions where I parked apply 24 hours, although I believe that wasn't made sufficiently clear at the time.

Sorry for the delay.

Are you asking if you are liable to pay?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I refer to the final paragraph of my initial enquiry. I accept the Beavis judgement is likely to apply to me.My questions are: 1) Is it acceptable for a debt recovery company to charge £200 post Beavis; when my original offer was not questioned or challenged 13 months earlier (pre Beavis)? Had the Beavis ruling clarified the situation at the time I made my original offer my response may have been different. My initial response in Jan 2015 was based on the general advice at the time.
2) Given the improved and increased parking notification signs since I parked there on 24 December 2014, could I still have a possible claim based on lack of notification, or as it has now passed onto a debt recovery company have my options to challenge the original parking notice from Jan 2015 now ceased?

1 Yes. The fact of the question or challenge is a non issue. Your offer was not accepted and has no impact.

Beavis has made clear that the sum of fines are lawful. You would have to pay costs if they issued which would be roughly equal to the debt collection costs.

2 The problem with this is that you did make an offer. You are bound by the signs at the time but it is rather undermining of any claim that you were mislead that you did make an offer.

You can always put them to proof on the adequacy of the signs though.

Can I clarify anything for you?


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. My feeling is the £200 current charge is unfair. Had the Beavis judgement clarified the situation prior to the initial parking notice I would have opted to pay £60. However the reason for the judgement was due to lack of clarity. At the time I made my offer it was in line with the accepted responses and general advice at the time.

It is not that simple.

They won't get debt collection costs.

What they will get is the sum of the fine, confirmed by Beavis, plus costs of £35 and fixed solicitors cost of £50 so it will be roughly the same amont.

That is always supposing they sue. They usually do not.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
to confirm, if I challenged the notice and went to court, the most that could be claimed is the original £100 charge, plus a maximum of £85 for court and solicitors fees? The debt recovery company would not have any claim for the £100 they are currently seeking?

Not for debt collection cost but they would get roughly £185.

if they succeeded.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your assistance.

No problem and all the best.

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