posted 4 years ago

Illegal Parking Fines: Millions Could Be Refunded

RAC Foundation Says Drivers Could Be Compensated

Drivers could receive refunds totalling tens of millions of pounds if they have been illegally overcharged for breaching parking restrictions on private land, the RAC Foundation has theorised.

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that publishes independent research to promote debate. It claims to champion policies “in the interest of the responsible motorist”.

Legal Opinion

The Foundation's legal opinion  - which comes via John de Waal QC who is a barrister at Hardwicke – is that parking companies have been “levying huge charges on drivers out of all proportion to the losses suffered by landowners as a result of motorists’ actions.”

Mr John de Waal's report argued: “Payments at the level that operators presently demand as sanctions are unlikely to count as genuine pre-estimate of loss.” He added: “They should be seen by the courts as penalties which means they are unenforceable.”

Mr de Wall explained that European consumer legislation - which requires contracts to be fair – ensures the early payment discounts that pressure the public to pay quickly or face higher charges “are unlawful because they constitute a price escalation clause.” Furthermore, when parking restriction signs are “not clear or prominently displayed” the motorist could legally challenge the fine on the basis that it is unfair, the legal expert explained. 

Legal Argument Should Be Tested In Court

Professor Stephen Glaister, Director of the RAC Foundation, said: “We would like to see this legal argument tested in a higher court so that a binding precedent is set. At the same time, we would like the government to do what it should have done at the outset and set out what are reasonable charges.

The British Parking Association and the Independent Parking Committee recommend that their members do not issue tickets of more than £100 to those that overstay their welcome, or breach other conditions.

Professor Glaister added: “If the courts agree with Mr de Waal then millions of drivers could be in line for a refund. We estimate that in 2013 alone drivers might have been overcharged by some £100 million.” He concluded: “Some parking operators have a business model which means they only make a profit if members of the public overstay and can be charged an excessive penalty. We think this model - which invites zealous enforcement - is unfair and not fully understood by the public.”


I overstayed by approx half an hour on a non paying car park whilst shopping at a shopping centre at Prestatyn and was charged £60.00. I ignored the letters and the fine subsequently went up to £180 which I refused to pay for overstaying on a 'free' car park but ended up getting a CCJ. So although unfair do not necessarily ignore as I was advised to do.

I was fined £60 which would increase to £120 if not paid by the firm employed by Liverpool air port That was just for stopping to let people out

my son was the victim from one of these unscrupulous parking enforcement companies, he met up with a few of his mates late on a Saturday night at mcdonalds on the fort shopping centre Erdington birminham b24 9fp he was in the restaurant for some time spending a descent amount of money, then they spent some time outside in there cars they inadvertently overstayed by around 17 mins and ended up with a £100 fine,i complained to mcdonalds for allowing this company called debt recovery plus ltd to penalisie customers but they didn't want to know they denied getting a share of the money collected, by I have my doubts wether that's true, so it is being boycotted by my son and all his friends it's unethical and immoral by mcdonalds to employ people like this who are basically fleecing hard working people

peter wilkes - unfortunately the local council does have the law on their side, whereas these fly-by-night wide boys pimping parking charges on private land do not. If you get an official ticket from the council which is effectively implementing some kind of law it's wise to pay it immediately or follow the appeals procedure which is clearly set out on the ticket. Typically you have 14 days to appeal. Only with a parking pimp is it safe to ignore. The council will pursue you to the bitter end, as you know!

I got a Ticket in Hackney for £60 I appealed and the council raised the fine to £180 I sent endless letters stating I would pay the £60 but not £180 and was told dont keep sending in letters they would be in touch with me. Two days latter knock at door 7.00 am man clamped my van and unless i paid him £975 he would tow it, I replied Take the Fucking van its not worth that anyway, he then added he would add a further £500 to tow it away and charge an additional £200 a week for storage. I called the Police and wernt interested, the clamper was not interested in my letters to the council he just wanted the money. End result I had to pay the £975 and then went to two solicitors who advised me to forget it and move on. What has become of our once Great country. The best advice is to pay the first Ticket then appeal.The Clampers attitude was apporling and I felt like Killing him,luckily i didnt as the fine would of increased.

My wife has had a parking while shopping in stores which had 2 hr parking restrictions never paid or replied to any of them the wrote twice then gave up I also got 2 tickets for parking in a disabled bay in Asda robroyston once while the car was in works carpark and the other time car was in drive with no mot or tax as was repairing the back brakes.Company would not believe this and insisted I pay fines I just sent them an invoice for the calls and letters I sent them when they refused to pay my invoice I told them I was refusing to pay theirs never heard from again. Best advice is do not reply to any mail from these companies as after writing to you a few times with no reply they give up as it costs them too much to chase you unless you have a lot of tickets

if one of these business owners was to come on to our streets needed to park up and the only space empty was in front of our doors he/she would not think twice about parking and we can levy a fine so wheres the fairness

I forgot to mention they clamped my car too. So I had no choice but to pay the fine for parking in my own private bay. The fine and the clamping happened within 5 min after I parked. Its like they are just sitting there watching you.

Further to my post above on the criminal law (blackmail) I now refer to the Civil Law side, the matter is dealt with as a debt under Sehedule 4 of The Protection of Freedoms Act 2013, the way I read it, these companies before they can even demand payment must comply with Schedule 4 Paras 4 and 7(4)(a)and(b). That says if the are going to pursue a registered keeper (after failure to identify the driver whose debt it originally was) they MUST prove a notice of the charge was:- 'either given to the driver or person in charge of the vehicle or affixed to it BEFORE it moves'. Those detections using ANPR cannot possibly comply with this requirement and therefore the debt is unenforcable. As above just don't pay these demands as these companies try to make money by not employing 'boots on the ground' and rely on ANPR to do the work. Just to add and returning to my original post above on Blackmail without naming names the director of one of these companies was actually arrested by police investigating such a complaint. Unfortunatly they did not do their homework and evidence gathering very well and the CPS would not prosecute because of a lack of evidence. Had they acted differently he may well have been convicted by a jury at Crown Court and gone to prison.

I was in the loading place my wife went to get the thins and wait 5 min wife not coming yet then I take the car to other road . They sent me penalty notice it is so bad.

Very interesting information and advice – thank you all. Personally I always challenge fines and offenses and have on several occasions actually gone all the way to Court to successfully present my case. Most of the time Town Clerks and the like (I will only deal with the CEO) don’t want the hassle I’m bringing to them and accept, mostly begrudgingly it seems, my argument. That said be a considerate motorist, leave notes, be polite and challenge them all – we are not their cash cows!

In 2013 I received 4 separate tickets for parking in a shopping centre car park in Crystal Peaks, Sheffield. At the time I was suffering badly with sciatica and visiting a clinic in the shopping centre for acupuncture treatment over a 2 month period. In total I ended up paying out £640 because I tried to contest the charges and the "fines" escalated by not settling within 28 days. I think the company was called UKPC? Would love to be able to recoup some or hopefully all of my money.

Peter Webb is absolutely right - if it's on private land of some kin simply ignore these tickets. They are very clever at chasing you hard using threatening language and implying that the entire weight of the law will come down on you but it won't and it can't. All they can do is sue in the County Court and they will then have to show actual loss, which is almost impossible to establish and probablt trivial. They won't go to court as it's too costly and winning very unlikely. So have courage and ignore the ticket. If everyone did this the entire dodgy enforcement industry, which relies on threatening behaviour and rip-off charges for its income, would disappear.

I got a ticket for parking on my driveway. The ticket was issued because the cars wheel was slightly on the council property. This did not cause anyone problem. I had made appeal but was told that I need to pay because the car was on on the the public road. I was very disappointed

RE Peter Webb - I lived on the private property. It was my birthday and I forgot to display my permit in my car in my own spot. I got a ticket for causing loss/damage to myself? £200 plus £5 for paying by card, not the happiest bday, they showed no compassion even after I appealed. If entitled to a refund I think people should also be paid interest by these thieves.

I was issued ticket at sainsburys for over stay, even though the staff new my car keys was misplaced in the store and I had to get the duplicate from home. It was only 2 hrs and 15 mins na da she parking is free for two hours . Since then stopped shopping at sainsburys. Please advice I can contest.

Re Monica Garibaldinos - it is NOT a crime (offence) to park on someone's private property. A bit rude maybe, but definitely NOT an offence! You're not breaking any law. That is why there's no compulsion to pay any sum they demand. If they want to sue you for causing them loss or damage to the tune of the amount they're demanding, I say let them go ahead. I've ignored these silly so-called charges and I've never been pursued. It would cost far more in fees, time and effort than it's worth. No crime, no offence, don't pay!

I paid for resident parking in Croydon £110. Before this I had to pay £7 for the first month till I get the new tenent registration with council. In the end of the first month I displayed both parking permits in the magnet round holder. But it was covered by one. Still the two reference numbers were visible. I had two parking tickets over the night till morning 11am as I went to the car to go to work. I appeal saying though it was covered the council have the records and also I emil the payment receipts. After few weeks they said I have to pay for one at lease. So £65 I just wasted by still having valuable permits and parking on correct bay. It's a ripoff

Non council car parking - don't pay. Council parking - appeal to Parking Appeals Tribunal. Don't make yourself a test case!

Hi parked in a car park bought a ticket for the whole day and displayed ticket on the dashboard But without realising closed the door , ticket flipped over as ticket did not adhesive.disputed my my case was rejected was asked to pay £60.00 as I spent over £20.00 in postage I was well pissed of and much more etc etc

You are all daft if you pay. It is not british law. No different to me charging you to park in my drive. Nothing I can do if you don't pay. Just ignor them' they will go away. I have done so with 3 for overstaying. Its just another part of scam britain. We should all boycott stores with cams' they would soon take them out.I need hospital treatment which I have refused. I will die befor pay parking. Its wrong. Scam britain wrong.

I work in a hospital and have money come out of my wages every month for me to park anywhere in the hospital, but I got a parking ticket for parking 😡

Also my husband has had two fines from his place of work because he forgot his new parking pass. Reason he forgot it was in our other car and his work would only issue one pass with two number plates on so we had to keep taking the pass out windscreen couple times he forgot . His own place of work it's not even available to the public What a joke !! N

We have received parking fine for 10mins in a Newquay carpark because we decided to love to carpark next door which was half the price . But as we had driven in and then out and didn't purchase ticket got fine through number plate recognition system at entrance and exit couldn't believe it. And we were a big group so all 3 cars got done . Really angry

COSTCO- I went to costco to return a faulty TV, it was raining real heavy, it was early evening, and i parked as close as i could to the store as not to get the tv wet, there where approx 40 disabled spaces empty, i parked in 1 just to unload, 4 mins later a ticket was on the srceen issued by costco,and if not paid will be visited by debt collectors (bully boy tactics) NOT HAPPY

Aldi are employing Parking Eye, who have reduced the time in the Winchester store to 1 hour. This does not give enough time to walk from the car park, get a trolley, examine goods properly, find what you are looking for, get through a long queue, pack properly and return trolley. My wife emailed a complaint about this and received no proper reply. They seem to not care if this upsets regular customers.

Got a tickect for being in a traffic que in a double yellow line. Tried to argue that it wasn't my fault as traffic was standstill but was told had to pay it. Totally rip off !!

Motorway service charges for over 2 hours are £22 that ridiculous they have a monopoly on motorway parking and these areas should be free to park so you can rest on a long journey tiredness kills the signs say so does poverty in the UK it seems if you can't afford the charges you must drive on tire!!!!!

The whole idea of fixed time parking is wrong anyway - all off road parking charges should be levied on actual time used. Then there would be no need for parking fines/penalties for overstaying which happens in the real world.

yes like sainsburys they have just started at my local store they are quick enough to put over the intercom if your blocking someone in why not tell people when they have 10 mins left on there time parking.

I totally agree with the QC. I have been fined for ridiculous reasons and for fines I have been unaware of. I have to keep challenging them and the pressure to pay quick to avoid further charges is madness. Bring this law out quickly....

I got a ticket for parking in my own allocated bay! £200 plus £5 for paying by card. I forgot to display my permit and apparently I was commiting a parking offence!? It is disgusting.

about time.....someone who made the effort to park legally in a safe car park and is 5 or 10 minutes late should pay the equivalent fee, maximum one hour for example not £30 when the initial parking fee was only a few pounds to start out with. Stop using motorists as the new criminal. Everyone can be held up at a meeting etc, so as long as they pay for the extent of their stay then that is fair and just. Next we should be looking at bus lanes. Visitors to a city cannot be responsible for poor signage etc where bus lanes are concerned and I notice the other day that in Falkirk in Scotland the bus lanes have peak times on them leaving them free for the rest of the day.

Uzume Uzume I couldn't agree more about the fairness aspect. But it does say in the article that the fines are disproportionate to the losses by the landowner. If someone parks on your private land then you are suffering no loss at all unless some damage is caused. I don't condone excessive charges at all, but do think that landowners deserve some route to stop inconsiderate, selfish people parking on other people's land, that's all.

To AJAJ AJAJ - methinks thou dost protest too much! First, a 'fine' is a penalty imposed by an Act of Parliament, not some dubious charge imposed by someone hoping to make a fast buck. Second, if you parked on my driveway, or restricting access via a private thoroughfare, or blocking somebody in and effectively imprisoning them, you would certainly be causing a nuisance and it would be right that you appropriately reimbursed anybody who suffered real loss by your thoughtless actions. But to justify any financial payment there has to be real harm, damage, etc. You can't just go round demanding money with menaces - that's just criminal! Third, it's the rip-off car parking merchants who should be banged to rights, not the innocent driver. Clamping is extremely anti-social and a form of force. It should only be used by legitimate, ie authorised, proper, legal authorities, not individuals. That's the route to anarchy. If you really have a problem with parkers on your land, put a fence round it!

AJAJ AJAJ - you need to read the articloe again - it's saying the fees should be 'proportional' and not excessive with such rigidity that peoople like Derek Todd in a previous comment are made to feel someone in a shiny jacket is standing there waiting for the second the ticket runs out. If you can't see that this is about fairness then maybe there's a car park with a job for you nearby!

Wish you all luck to those who try to get the money back you will find they will hide behind limited liability status go in to receivership and open up the next day under a new name .I am just waiting for someone to phone me up asking if I've ever been ticketed more nuisance calls oh heaven help me.

I got a parking charge notice for overstaying a cinema car-park. The show was live and ran over the expected time. There was a jam on leaving the car park which caused us to overstay. I appealed but this made no difference I got a "red" ticket but didn't pay. Heard nothing since last September so assume they've dropped it.

Those people who park illegally should be fined, shouldn't they? Or are we saying here that owners of private land can't do anything to stop anyone parking on their property? As a owner of a small piece of land in front of my house there is nothing I can do to stop people parking there. This latest loophole just gives the anti clampers even more power to inconsiderately park where they want and then argue the "fine" when they should be banged to rights. Private landowners can do nothing to stop anyone parking on their land, and yes that includes your driveway (unless they are causing an obsruction). Is that really fair?

I got a Court case against me, since the parking charges and Court judgment was sent to my previous address. Now I have a CCJ on my credit file, denying me of credit cards, personal loans and Mortgage. Don't know what should I do now since I have paid the £165 and the judgment is satisfied....

Had 'tickets' from Tesco and Aldi cancelled when challenged.

check out what is happening in Scotland later this week at the parking pranksters website , CEL have tried it with the wrong people!

These demands may amount to a criminal offence contrary to Section 21(1) Theft Act 1968. (Blackmail) This says, 'Where a person with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another he makes an 'unwarranted demand with menaces'. The demand is unwarranted unless the person making it does so in the belief (a) that he has reasonable grounds for making it AND (b) that the use of menaces is a proper means of reinforcing the demand. I believe the demand is both unwarranted due to the threats made (Ie court action which is questionable) AND the disproportionate values asked for. Section 21(1) is therefore satisfied.

And if you are going to put up a photo, put the correct one up! What you have illustrated is a COUNCIL ticket which is PENALTY charge notice. Private operators are not allowed to impose a penalty, it is illegal. So they call it a PARKING charge notice, (the same acronym) so as to impersonate authority. Don't pay.

Most of these companies would have gone out of business years ago if people simply realised that they had no effective means of collecting their illegal fines. They send threatening letters and people are hoodwinked into believing that there is some obligation to pay, as they try to impersonate the Council PCNs which are both lawful and enforceable. This business is nothing more nor less than a scam. All parking restrictions on private land could be lawfully enforced by the simple expedient of installing entry and exit barriers. But of course they won't do that as the supply of fines would immediately dry up. If you get a ticket- DON'T PAY! I have had dozens of them, and not a single one has ever gone anywhere. In fact I successfully sued one company for harassment, but that's another story.......

My wife received a parking ticket at ASDA for a 15 mins overstay. Their parking limit was 2 hours, hardly time enough at a super store where a variety of goods are sold and there is a cafe. We also took it with Parking Company arguing the Unfair Consumer Contract Regulations and to justify the fine required. The parking company cancelled the fine and ASDA now allow 3 hours for shopping.