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Private Parking Fine (sorry invoice!)....

(45 Posts)
Annabel7 Fri 29-Jan-16 13:34:13

More of a WWYD but time if of the essence and I know there are a lot or people here are more knowledgeable about this than me. I'll try and keep it brief...

So - about 15 mths ago, I went for a wkend away with a friend to a busy town. On the Sunday, we tried to find somewhere to park and found a supermarket car park that allows 2 hrs free. I wasn't sure if charges applied as the supermarket was closed so I after finding the sign tucked away at the back of the car park, I read it and it didn't stipulate when the charges applied. On arrival and when we left, the car park was perhaps 1/4 full, if that.

We both then assumed that as the supermarket was closed, it was probably fine. We went for lunch and came back about 2 1/2 hrs later. I received a fine of £80 (I think) around Nov/Dec 2014. Advice at the time was to ignore all correspondence and so I did and binned all the subsequent threatening letters. The letters eventually stopped coming.

Fast forward to 2 days ago and we've had a final demand for £110 to be paid by 1st Feb or they will take us to court. This is subsequent to the Parking Eye vs Beavis case in which the court found in favour of Parking Eye. So it seems the claim that fines that are disproportionate to losses no longer stands. My argument is that it was not clear as to when the parking restriction applied and that we made a reasonable assumption.

Should I just take it on the chin and cough up? I should add that my car is in my husband's name but he wasnt there so all correspondence and subsequent legal action would be for him at this point. So AIBU to continue to ignore, ride it out and take the consequences or should I just pay and close this chapter? Any advice/experience gratefully received... Thanks!

Annabel7 Fri 29-Jan-16 13:36:03

I should also add that they have photographic evidence to prove when we arrived and left the car park...

HeyNonnyMaybe Fri 29-Jan-16 13:38:02

Is the car park in England and is your car's/Dh's address in England?

firesidechat Fri 29-Jan-16 13:38:16

I would pay I think. They can take you to court.

Annabel7 Fri 29-Jan-16 13:39:27

Yes, HeyNonny, both in England...

HeyNonnyMaybe Fri 29-Jan-16 13:39:31

Have you looked here?

AnotherTimeMaybe Fri 29-Jan-16 13:39:33

But why did you ignore it at the first place? Because you thought supermarket was closed?
You're wrong no matter what, there was a sign there you knew it was up to 2 hours and you stayed longer!
I personally wouldn't ignore I'd pay up!

Btw who adviced you to ignore them?

HopingForBetter Fri 29-Jan-16 13:40:29

IMO, you did the crime, you need to do the time.
It doesn't sound to me that you have grounds for appeal. The sign didn't say when the rules applied. I would have taken this to mean they always apply. If there were times when they didn't apply, it would have said.

I know lots of people think they should be able to park on private property and not have to pay the fines, but I'm not one, I'm afraid.

2boysnamedR Fri 29-Jan-16 13:43:50

I do of people ignoring these private land fines and never being taken to court. Some people do get away with it

Annabel7 Fri 29-Jan-16 13:44:21

Hi AnotherTime - the supermarket was closed. There was nothing to say when restrictions applied so we assumed (wrongly) that they wouldn't when the store was closed. There are a number of threads on mn and other websites that advised ignoring them.

Up until the case I referred to above, most were never pursued to court as private firms didn't really have a leg to stand on with the amounts they were invoicing (only councils can issue a fine)...

MuttonDressedAsMutton Fri 29-Jan-16 13:45:34

Go look at the MSE site OP - you'll get the best advice there and hopefully you won't be told off as if you were a small child by the bosom hoiking brigade!

MSE Parking Forum

Annabel7 Fri 29-Jan-16 13:47:17

Thanks - will check it out now...

AnchorDownDeepBreath Fri 29-Jan-16 13:50:07

What does your husband think? He is the one that will get the summons.

I imagine this will be easy for them to win, because there was no indication that the charges didn't apply, and you overstayed anyway. I think that's probably why they've written to you again after so long.

At the end of the day, it's your risk. You can not pay, and hope that you get away with it, but face a bigger charge if you get taken to court. Or you can pay and not risk court. Nobody can say whether they will take it to court, although if they do, they are likely to win from what you've said. It doesn't sound like there was any reasonable indication that you didn't need to pay and you stayed too long anyway.

Annabel7 Fri 29-Jan-16 13:59:13

I think I agree with you, Anchor. I Was prepared to chance it and go to appeal etc. if they pursued it on the grounds that the fine was so disproportionate to the misdemeanor (it used to be that they had to prove the fine was equal to the money lost by the overstay - i.e none!). However, the Parking Eye win seems to have put paid to that argument working.

It is a fair cop - we took the chance that it would be ok. My beef was that it was not clear and that the fine was ridiculously high...

My husband's mind is elsewhere. He's really busy at the moment so I don't want to put him through any grief. We both thought this had gone away a year ago.

leelu66 Fri 29-Jan-16 14:00:16

If the sign was tucked away in a corner, then you have a good case.

There needs to be a sign visible when you enter the car park.

Please follow process on MoneySavingsExpert. Use one of their template letters to write a letter to Parking Eye.

Can you go back to the car park to take pictures? You need proof that there wasn't a sign clearly visible when you entered the car park.

Annabel7 Fri 29-Jan-16 14:04:44

Can't go back to take pics - it's too far away. Also, I've googled and turns out the car park in question is now pay and display... not sure i have time to go through appeal process as they are threatening court action if we haven't paid by 1st Feb. Think I'm going to have to pay...

ComposHatComesBack Fri 29-Jan-16 14:06:57

IMO, you did the crime, you need to do the time.

No crime has been committed, it is a civil matter not a criminal one. They aren't issuing 'fines'.

MuttonDressedAsMutton Fri 29-Jan-16 14:10:19

Don't pay without at least taking some informed advice Annabel - it's entirely possible that Parking Eye are trawling through their entire 'back catalogue' in the hope of catching a few more on that back of that court case - that doesn't necessarily mean they're in the right now. They're only 'threatening' court action at this time - they wouldn't be able to organise a court appearance that quickly!
Go to MSE and ask - it's got to be worth at least trying.

leelu66 Fri 29-Jan-16 14:10:26

I really suggest you read through the Money Savings Expert guide.

It could be that you can argue that the car park was in the process of changing from free car park to pay and display so the signage wasn't clear.

I was willing to go to court for 3 different parking tickets, but it never came to that. The template letters I wrote from moneysavingsexpert took care of it.

ReallyTired Fri 29-Jan-16 14:18:36

Money Saving Expert is a good place for advice. Even if they do take you to court you will not necessarily win. Beavis lost because the retail car park argued that they had commerical justification fining people. The shops need empty car parking spaces for potential customers. Its in the landowner's financial interest to move people on after they have done their shopping.
I am not sure that the concept of commerical justification applies if the supermarket was shut. A closed shop cannot lose customers by people over staying.

Don't take my word for it. You need considered advice from someone who knows what they are talking about.

MrsBethel Fri 29-Jan-16 14:22:18

At the end of the day, it's your risk. You can not pay, and hope that you get away with it, but face a bigger charge if you get taken to court. Or you can pay and not risk court. Nobody can say whether they will take it to court, although if they do, they are likely to win from what you've said.

But, food for thought, how about a third option... write back and say that although you do not admit fault or liability, you would be willing to pay them a reasonable sum to put an end to the matter. If an extra hours parking would have cost £3, then £15 might be a proportionate amount to offer.
Put 'Without prejudice' at the top of any letter to really ram home that you're not admitting any liability.

Anyway, first thing I'd do is head over to the MSE site.

Lucsy Fri 29-Jan-16 14:26:32

Can't you wait until the court summons actually arrives, then pay it?
Even if you get a ccj because of it, is it not true that it doesn't go on your credit report if you pay it in 30 days?

My next door neighbour did this with 4 tickets
3 didn't take take him to court
1 did, he went to court, paid it and that was the end.

Apparently !

ComposHatComesBack Fri 29-Jan-16 14:30:51

that Parking Eye are trawling through their entire 'back catalogue' in the hope of catching a few more on that back of that court case

It would seem they are doing precisely that a friend of mine has got one they've suddenly become re-interested in dating from 2012. Threatening ccjs, county court cases etc Luckily we live in Scotland where there are no county courts (good luck finding them) and no Keeper liability, so are just trying to scare people into paying up on the back of the Beavis case.

In her case it is just piss and wind and they have no case and the fact they are quoting English law in relation to a Scottish case shows they are just pumping out chain letters to anyone on their books.

ridemesideways Fri 29-Jan-16 14:31:25

PePiPoo Fight back forum is where you will get the best, most up to date advice

AnneElliott Fri 29-Jan-16 14:34:13

I agree with the forums for advice. I did the same when DH got them.

I also recall that with private companies they can't force the owner to tell them who was driving, so that essentially your DH can stick with saying he wasn't driving and don't say anything else.

Also worth writing to the land owner ( the supermarket in this case) as that's how I eventually got mine cancelled. I pointed out the lack of signage and indicated that if they wanted to keep a customer then they needed to take action. Owner cancelled both of mine after getting my letter.

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