Private parking, public concern 20 Feb 2015

Legal opinion casts doubt on legality of parking tickets on private land

A legal opinion for the RAC Foundation suggests that parking companies are levying huge charges on drivers out of all proportion to the losses suffered by landowners as a result of motorists’ actions.

Although the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 banned clamping on private land, drivers who stay longer than the time they have paid for are still likely to receive tickets that demand payments of up to £100, and in some cases significantly more.

However in his paper for the RAC Foundation John de Waal QC, a barrister at Hardwicke, argues that this is likely to be several times more than compensation for a genuine loss. So it would not be enforceable by the courts.

In his report John de Waal says:

“Payments at the level that operators presently demand as sanctions are unlikely to count as genuine pre-estimate of loss; they should be seen by the Courts as penalties, which means they are unenforceable.”

Mr de Waal also argues that European consumer legislation which requires contracts to be fair means so-called ‘early payment discounts’, which are often used to put pressure on the public to pay up quickly, or face a higher charge, are in fact unlawful because they constitute a ‘price escalation clause’. He also says that when signs are not clear or prominently displayed, the charge can also be challenged on the grounds of unfairness.

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