Is it worth appealing against a parking charge notice - UK scenario
May 13, 2019 4:29 AM   Subscribe

1. Is a private parking company in the UK likely to take me to court in this very infuriating) scenario? 2. Is it worth appealing? I live in an apartment with private parking that is policed by a private parking company. I pay an annual fee to them and receive an annual pass that the signs around the car park say must display a valid expiry date. I paid my annual fee and received a new pass. My pass expired on 30th April. I put my new pass in my car at 7am on 1st May. I have just received a fine notice for £60 with photographic evidence of my expired pass taken at 05.00am on the morning of 1st May. Now technically I was not displaying an up to date pass for 5 hours as per the conditions, but I had already paid my annual fee, which their records would know. They have obviously caught me out (deliberately so) on a technicality. Appealing to them will take time, during which time the fine can increase. They will not take calls to discuss.
posted by mairuzu to Law & Government (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
MoneySavingExpert covers this, with recommended options depending on whether the company is part of a trade body: "Private parking companies have no official right to fine you, though they may try to make you think they do. All they're doing is sending you a notice for what they deem to be a breach of contract."
posted by holgate at 4:43 AM on May 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I believe this is the biggest forum for parking ticket help - searching it for the name of the companies involved may show what their usual approach is and what strategies have worked before.
My suspicion is that in your case you won't get very far with the parking company - their income comes from catching people out and presumably that's why they were sniffing around so early on the 1st of the month and as you say, by appealing you lose the chance to pay the discounted rate. Instead you could try following up with whoever appointed the parking company - management company, landlord or resident's association - as it isn't in their interests to have residents being fined despite having paid the fee, plus they will have power of whether to renew the PPC's contract or not. Making some irate phonecalls could get some strings pulled before the ticket payment is due.
posted by JonB at 4:57 AM on May 13, 2019 [7 favorites]

Who owns the parking? In our case, we actually own our own parking space but the building association pays a private company a very (very) small fee to police the parking. Because all their money comes from tickets, they are aggressive assholes about the tickets. Most people in the building have at some point said "screw off, we own this space and have a pass, we're not paying you" and the company doesn't do jack about it because if they piss off enough owners, they get fired. Nobody has been sued.

So basically I agree with JonB to find out who owns the parking and get in contact with them instead. I would also send the company a registered mail with a copy of your current parking pass refuting their charges, then refuse point blank to pay them.
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:39 AM on May 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I would do as previously suggested:
- Send parking company an appeal letter saying "I had a permit, here is proof, I'm not paying".
- Complain to the managing agent that the parking enforcement company is clearly trying to make money from legitimate residents by going out at the crack of dawn on the first of the month to catch people out.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:59 AM on May 13, 2019 [12 favorites]

Is £60 going to break your bank? Is the anxiety of not paying and fighting this worth more £60 of your time? Is paying the £60 with cold stone knowing they are absolute assholes a way to just end it?

I think you’re righteously pissed off at these bastards, but is £60 pounds and uncertainty that the “fine” may become something worse the hill you want to die on?

They’ve proven themselves as who they are. For £60 I figure that’s a pretty cheap lesson. Lord knows I’ve spent a lot more money than that on a lot worse people for a lot longer period of time before they showed me their asses.

I vote let it go, pay it.
posted by nikaspark at 7:03 AM on May 13, 2019

I got one of these once. I'd just had a minor car accident (not my fault, I was bumped by a yob driver who then sped off), I was feeling shaken-up and had to pull off the road to get un-shaken before continuing home. For safety, I pulled onto the first side road I came across, which unluckily happened to be a privately-owned road leading to a business park. While I was sitting there, an "enforcement car" came along, took my picture and drove off and I duly got a £100 ticket in the post.

I explained the situation in an "appeal" (which is a strange term, as it's not a legal matter) and was ignored - they didn't even respond. They sent me a few more tickets and a few fake solicitor's letters with lots of "may" and "could" around the scary legalese (the address of the "solicitor" was the same as the address of the parking company!) and then the mail just stopped dead.

One of the parking companies won a test case at some point a few years ago, and since then the advice has been not to ignore their invoices. Several trumpet "successful" civil cases on their websites in an attempt to dissuade people from ignoring their invoices. I did ignore it in my case, after the initial "appeal" was ignored, and no ill came of it.
posted by winterhill at 7:34 AM on May 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I vote let it go, pay it.
£60 for you may be a small amount to throw away, but it isn't for everyone. £60 would be a big chunk of my "something nice" money each month. One of the most irritating things on here is when fairly well-off (often tech) people assume everyone's got the same income that they have.
posted by winterhill at 7:35 AM on May 13, 2019 [20 favorites]

Apologies for irritating you, the poster said the fine could could increase. I’m on the side of “reduce harm” here.
posted by nikaspark at 7:42 AM on May 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

They tend to offer a discount for quick payment, in an attempt to get people to panic and pay up quickly rather than researching the matter or appealing. My £100 could be "reduced to £50" if I had paid within two weeks rather than appealing.
posted by winterhill at 7:49 AM on May 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

On the Money Saving Expert link above there is a big list of instances where people have complained to the land owner (ie the company etc who owns the car park in the first place, not the company issuing the fine) about a parking fine and got the ticket cancelled. Most are related to commercial premises (eg someone spent a lot of money in a shop but overstayed and was fined), but it does include two instances where someone was ticketed in similar circumstances to you:
example #1 - cancelled fine and housing association cancelled their contract with the parking company.
example #2 - called property management company, who had fine cancelled.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:48 AM on May 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Are they actually gonna sue you? Probably not, if you send them something making clear that you had paid, although they might claim they will. In reality, there's no way for them to justify the cost of persuing a claim that is in any way likely to be plausibly defended, as yours clearly would be.

Personally I'd give them the full force of my disdain, and tell them I wanted withdrawal of the "fine" and an apology or I would complain to the freeholder and any professional bodies that they are a member of, and make a report to Trading Standards into the bargain.

This is not some official body. This a bunch of dodgy chancers trying to shake you down for money. It's up to you, but I'd tell them to shove it up their bottoms.
posted by howfar at 9:36 AM on May 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeh, don't just ignore it (or tell them to "shove it" anywhere) - they can and do sue, especially as when in this case they have a clear photo showing you weren't complying with the t&cs for free parking (the fine / penalty charge is for not displaying a valid permit, not for not owning one).
Here's a judgement for a court case over an £85 fine that was taken all the way to the supreme court! It's possible it's a "bunch of dodgy chancers" or it may well be one of the large companies that make their living out of efficiently issuing and pursuing these charges (since 2012 the law changed to make the registered keeper of vehicles liable for parking fines).
posted by JonB at 9:59 AM on May 13, 2019

(the fine / penalty charge is for not displaying a valid permit, not for not owning one).

We actually don't know what the terms of the scheme are. Let's not guess.

The question for a court will be whether your claimed breach of contract, "purchasing but not displaying a ticket before the start of working hours, after one year of compliance", is actually a breach and if so whether it is sufficient breach to justify activating the penalty clause in the contract. Given that it will be evident to the court what they were up to sneaking around at 5am, I suspect that a district or deputy district judge doing small claims in the County Court will be keen to find against them. On the other hand this isn't my area at all and you should absolutely get advice if you can.

The other factor in me being personally pretty sanguine about the prospect of legal action in this case is that it's the smallest of small claims and costs are capped. I'd also point out, even if I lost, that they refused to discuss it with me to try to avert the matter, and ask for no order for costs at all.

But that's me. It is emphatically not legal advice. I really think that talking to the freeholder and explaining the predatory practice is likely to have a reasonable shot of success.

And I suspect that the internal appeal process will be entirely useless, but why can't you pay the "fine" and also appeal? If they won't allow that I think you'd have a fun problem for your local university law clinic or similar, because that seems like a good case for an unfair term in a consumer contract.

All of this comes down to whether it's worth your time and stress to fight it, and whether you can reasonably risk losing a few hundred quid. That's definitely a personal decision.
posted by howfar at 12:21 PM on May 13, 2019

"Can I still appeal if I pay the parking charge notice?
No you can't. Do not pay the parking charge if you intend to appeal"

(Ask metafilter answers are more useful when they are based on citations not opinion, especially thinking that some university law clinic is going to pro bono fight a £60 parking fine!)
posted by JonB at 12:53 PM on May 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

university law clinic is going to pro bono fight a £60 parking fine
Fair point, although what I was really thinking about was a bit of free advice about making a complaint, not a complicated appeal. Being a bit sloppy there.
posted by howfar at 2:44 PM on May 13, 2019

Take this to your landlord as they are the company's customers, not you.
posted by soelo at 7:12 PM on May 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I had to kick up a real fuss with the freeholders and eventually they got it cancelled, but were very reluctant to get involved.
posted by mairuzu at 12:11 AM on June 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

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