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Parking on private land - threat of legal action - help!

(17 Posts)
Scarletpink Fri 07-Feb-14 11:32:43

Hi - hoping someone can give me some advice. We parked in a private car park for a few minutes back in october. Didn't realise it was private, it's behind a parade of shops, left engine running whilst I ran into the bank (H in car with DCs).

To be honest this car park has been covered in the local press so for ease of story I am posting the link here www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/10865615.Car_park_turn_for_a_sandwich_cost_family___60/ - I hasten to add it is not me mentioned in here, but clearly this is a car park with attitude!

I had emailed the debt enforcer for the car park owner - Debt Recovery Plus - along the lines people said in the comments section in the news article above i.e. its not enforceable. Now have received a "reduced payment offer to avoid court proceedings" giving until 19/2 to pay £138 (original fine was £60).

I can't afford this, feel its very unjust, and would welcome some guidance please!
Thanks

tiredoutgran Fri 07-Feb-14 11:55:16

There was mention in the article about a small sign - I am pretty sure that there has to be very clear signage for them to be allowed to do this, and it has to tell you that they will identify you and send out a parking charge. I would get some photos of the signs that are on the premises if they are not like this and also ask for the photos of you parked there as you cannot remember the incident at all. Unless they can categorically prove to you that it was your car, and if the signage doesn't meet legal requirements I wouldn't be paying anything and would take my chances in Court.

fraiserno Fri 07-Feb-14 12:07:23

OP I looked at your link and went on to read the comments made by readers. I suggest you read their comments and relax. If still feeling anxious then I wonder if your local Citizens Advice office could help.

MrsSteptoe Fri 07-Feb-14 12:14:57

If it's any help, I always thought the Citizens Advice Bureau had impossibly long waiting lists so wasn't worth the hassle - but I recently called them just to see if I could get advice on a situation we had here, and we got an appointment within two days with a legally qualified volunteer. So I'd definitely go this route as a priority. If you do engage with the car park people, I think I might be inclined to ask them to quote the precise legislation under which they're entitled to enforce the fine. Otherwise it's just money with menaces.
I'd also get in touch with your local Trading Standards at your council. I think part of their remit is to look at illegal trading practices. Worth a phone call.
HTH.

MrsSteptoe Fri 07-Feb-14 12:16:07

Otherwise it's just money wtih menaces Sorry, what I mean is - it seems to me like it's just money with menaces. I don't have a legal opinion on this!

Scarletpink Fri 07-Feb-14 15:12:57

Thank you - I am going to go at the weekend (but make very sure I pull up outside....) and take photos of the signage.

I will inquire with the CAB too.

prh47bridge Fri 07-Feb-14 15:25:51

ask them to quote the precise legislation under which they're entitled to enforce the fine

That would be the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. It changed the law regarding private parking. Previously the car park owner could only take action against the driver. Now they can take action against the registered keeper. Previously they could only recover their actual losses which in most cases were very little - just the unpaid parking charge. Now they are entitled to recover any unpaid parking charge and/or an additional sum as damages. The only condition is that there must be adequate notices in the car park stating the amount that will be claimed.

Ignoring them still frequently works. They get enough money from people who do pay up without going to court to mean it often isn't worth their while to pursue the non-payers. Alternatively it is possible to appeal through the independent appeals service but I'm afraid you are too late for that. The final option is to let them take you to court (assuming they take it that far) and argue that the signs were inadequate.

Scarletpink Fri 07-Feb-14 17:01:06

Ok - so should I just ignore rather than acknowledge, and see what happens? I will go and take pics tomorrow - just hope that 4 months on they haven't changed the signage!

nothernexposure Fri 07-Feb-14 17:24:23

You might want to Google pepipoo or look on the money saving expert website. You can find out if the company chasing you are likely to go to court or not. From that you can decide whether its worth ignoring it, or how to challenge it if you think that's the best option.

nickymanchester Fri 07-Feb-14 17:48:54

Also have a look here as there are many other people in the same situation as you are:-

www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/forumdisplay.php?88-Private-Land-Parking-Enforcement

IAmNotAMindReader Fri 07-Feb-14 21:46:00

You'd have to check but i am almost sure if your engine is still running it is classed as waiting and to be parked the engine has to be off.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 07-Feb-14 21:47:56

You need to ask the enforcers for a POPLA code.

Then you appeal via POPLA stating that the charge is unfair due to excessive charges and no loss to land owner. POPLA will find in your favour.

prh47bridge Fri 07-Feb-14 22:11:48

You'd have to check but i am almost sure if your engine is still running it is classed as waiting and to be parked the engine has to be off

No, I'm afraid not. There is no legal definition of parking but the courts take a practical approach. If the vehicle is stationary for a period of time and is not in a queue of traffic it is parked even if the engine is running and the driver is still sat at the wheel.

MrsSteptoe Sat 08-Feb-14 09:05:58

There is an absolutely huge amount of information on this topic on the moneysavingexpert forum.
forums.moneysavingexpert.com/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=&f=163

Scarletpink Sat 08-Feb-14 17:03:54

Thank you. I haven't been able to get out today to go and photograph as evidence, but have been reading through the links supplied, which have been really useful.

firesidechat Sun 09-Feb-14 10:47:29

Money saving expert has an excellent thread about this subject and will definitely have up to date advice.

I wouldn't enter into any communication with the parking company at all until you are more sure of the situation. They tend to get even more menacing if you acknowledge the offence in any way. Ignoring the letter was the old advice, but that may have changed since I last checked this out.

prh47bridge Sun 09-Feb-14 11:32:53

Since the law was changed last year opinions are split as to whether the best approach is to ignore or appeal.

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