TURNING THE TABLES ON COWBOY PRIVATE PARKING OPERATORS – 13/09/2017

A friend of mine recently asked for my advice in cancelling a private ‘Parking Charge Notice’ (“PCN”) in Scotland where he was ‘fined’ £100 for overstaying the allotted time by less than 20 minutes, which he successfully annulled by virtue of an explanation that would hold water had it gone to Court.

An interesting spin-off from this is that there is no legal requirement to name the driver of a vehicle in these scenarios in Scotland, whereas there is in England and Wales for a PCN to stick.

He is now going to invoice them for his time spent in dealing with this matter and says he will charge his hourly contracting rate as an independent Accountant, which is roughly £50 a hour (nice work if you can get it!).

My advice would be to charge what a Court would reasonably consider for the administrative work involved, which is about £10 a hour.

Having said that, given that he breached the contract that he entered in to by parking on private land and was able to get the invoice cancelled as a goodwill gesture, it’s not something I would recommend myself under the circumstances.

He is the type that will take it all the way to the Small Claims Court if necessary, and this will be an interesting one to watch.

On a separate note, I have come across a couple of cases recently that I wanted to share with you that raises some interesting points for consideration in these claims.

The first case involves an individual who received a letter in May 2016 from a private parking firm stating that he owed £100 for overstaying his time in a car park in Bury.

He was threatened by bailiffs, solicitors and a Court case but he chose to stand his ground and by doing his own research found that the firm had no proof that he was the driver.  The firm dropped the case but he pursued a counter-claim and won £500 compensation and £405 in costs.

The crux of it was that he received a parking invoice 32 days after the supposedly incident occurred, called a ‘notice to keeper’.  It stated he was originally fined £60 however because it was more than 14 days, he now needed to pay £100 and when he ignored it, because he knew there was no way they could know who was even driving the car, they sent more and more letters threatening him with bailiffs and solicitors.

He did his homework and realised that the ticket had to be received within 14 days and it hadn’t been.  It was exactly 32 days after the incident.

They have to prove who they are claiming against and there was no way they could know who the driver was because they use number-plate recognition.

If you respond to them, even to call for more details, you are automatically identified as the driver.  That’s why he decided that because they hadn’t followed the guidelines, neither would he.

After receiving a letter stating the firm would be taking him to Court, he decided to deny all fault and launch a counter-claim against them for the stress and alleged data protection breach by passing on his details to bailiffs.

This is a text book result that I salute and you can read more about it here

The second case involved a private parking firm suing a top lawyer £85 for exceeding a free 2 hour limit while he took a nap at a motorway service station.

Mr Bowen argued that the company had no legal right to charge people for parking to take a nap in an empty service station car park at night.  He said it was a breach of consumer protection law.  Mr Bowen insists there was no signage with parking information where he parked and he had exceeded the free period by only 20 minutes.

He said signs making reference to 24 hour charging were in tiny print in another part of the car park.

His defence was that the contract was unenforceable, and that they had no legal right to charge members of the public for night parking in service station car parks.

Another strand to this is the road safety aspect and motorists should not be penalised for taking a rest especially at night in a service station.

You can read more about it here

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