Private parking enforcement firms could increase their fines following court ruling that stated £85 is not excessive, AA warns.
UK private parking enforcement firms could ride roughshod over drivers as The Supreme Court failed to overturn an £85 fine for being excessive, the AA warns. In April 2013, Barry Beavis, 47, was fined for staying in a free parking bay 52 minutes beyond the permitted 2 hours.
His act was recorded via a camera at a retail park. Mr Beavis - who runs the Happy Haddock fish and chip shop in Billericay, Essex – argued that the fine was unreasonable, disproportionate and unenforceable. The Supreme Court, however, failed to overturn the penalty charge stating it was not excessive.
Licence to print money
The AA's concern is that any unscrupulous parking firms could perceive the court ruling as a licence to print money, and increase fines.
Its President, Edmund King, argued: “This result will lead to private parking enforcement companies riding roughshod over drivers in private car parks - even more aggressively than they do now.”
Mr Beavis shares such concerns and claimed that the £85 fine was “totally unfair and should be thrown out”. He explained: “What is not excessive to a judge who earns £214,000 a year is very excessive to a family on benefits”.
He added: “We are just going to be back in court in a couple of years when the parking companies put their charges up to £250 - they are always pushing the boundaries.”
Richard Lloyd, Executive Director at Consumer Watchdog Which?, added: “This is a thoroughly disappointing judgement based on a narrow interpretation of the law. It will cause chaos if cowboy parking firms choose to take advantage of the ruling by hitting drivers with even more excessive charges. Our advice to consumers is to be on your guard and always appeal if you think a parking fine is unfair.”
'Broader review' needed
British Parking Association (BPA) Chief Executive, Patrick Troy, welcomed the ruling as it provides clarity. He said: “While this decision helps to clarify the law around private parking, there needs to be a broader review of the private parking sector. We believe that government should establish a standard setting body with an independent scrutiny board, which will deliver a single code of practice and a single independent appeals service for consumers.”
He continued: “There is more that needs to be done to reassure the public and to ensure that all parking control is fair, reasonable and properly managed for the benefit of everyone. The BPA will lead in organising a Parking Summit early next year, bringing together all interested parties including Mr Beavis, motorists, operators and landowners to assemble a consensus.”