Unfair private parking fines – a light at the end of the tunnel?


Private parking fines are endemic to society today. If you’ve not had one, chances are somebody you know has. Open any local newspaper or community Facebook page and you will probably see an article about unfair charges being imposed on someone who has parked in a supermarket, private car park or leisure facility. It’s estimated that around 22,000 private parking tickets are issued every day! Some of these will be accepted and paid- maybe the driver was running late or didn’t notice that they were partially outside a space. However, some will undoubtedly be unfair, so what can be done in this situation?

  • Evidence

First and foremost, try getting into the habit of pre-empting any issues and keep parking receipts and pre-payment emails. You could also take a quick photo of any signs, or even a picture of ‘how’ you are parked, as these may support you later on.

  • Appeal

There are various forms an appeal could take. You may appeal to the company directly, or- if they are regulated- to their regulator. The details of who to appeal to should be on the ticket itself. LFBB are more than happy to guide you with this.

  • Fight the charge

You (guided by our litigation department if you prefer) could write to the parking company explaining why you think the charge is unfair and that you will not pay it. However, you would have to be prepared for the matter to go all the way to Court, and in the case of Parking Eye Limited v Barry Beavis, for the Court to decide in favour of the parking company, as an £85 penalty for overstaying was held to be ‘neither extravagant nor unconscionable’ considering the company’s need to maintain an efficient parking scheme and meet running costs.

  • Find a technical reason not to pay

Check the Notice to Keeper (if you get one) that a parking company may send for technical problems including lack of a 28-day deadline, where the vehicle was parked or neglecting to mention how much is owed. Again, you can run the Notice by us if you suspect it is technically incorrect.

  • Pay it

Always an option, however disappointing, even if you’ve written, appealed, and not got anywhere.

If you do decide to appeal or fight a ticket, there are grounds which may be more likely to have success. These include-

  • Misleading signs
  • Markings that were not visible
  • The parking machines being out of order (make sure you get evidence of this!)
  • You can prove you made a payment with a bank statement
  • Grace periods for entering or leaving the car park were ignored.

Recently, in Wales, a man named Toni Schiavone recently defeated a case against him for failure to pay a parking charge as all correspondence served on him by the parking company was only served on him in English, rather than Welsh. However, despite hearing of victories like this it is important to remember that any case outcome can depend on a huge variety of factors; one case that sounds similar to another may have a very different outcome.

An important point to remember is that if you feel the parking charge is unfair, don’t just ignore it. You will then lose the chance to challenge it altogether unless you want to defend Court Proceedings much further down the line.

A new parking practice code of conduct is currently under review. Its aim is to make private parking more transparent and to make both the appeals process and debt enforcement fairer and more accessible. Some of the requirements include

  • The parking operator must allow a ‘consideration period’ for people using the services. This must include, amongst others, time for service-users to identify an appropriate space for their needs (e.g. a parent and child bay), time to read and understand the terms and conditions of parking (and to leave if they do not agree to them) and time to comply with the conditions of payment.
  • The parking operator must have a system to avoid charges being issued due to keying errors if the drivers mis-enter their registration number. For instance, they should avoid issuing a ticket if 0(zero) has been entered as O(letter) in a submitted registration number.
  • Defined maximum charges for defined breaches. E.g., outside London, the maximum charge for parking for longer than permitted in a standalone public car park is £50.
  • Signage (including terms and conditions and payment information) is more strictly regulated

It is important to remember that these changes are still currently ‘withdrawn’ and under review. There is clearly a real need for reform in this area-, but perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to years of campaigning and heightened public interest.

If you are facing an issue like this, please contact our litigation department on 0114 272 9721. We will guide and advise you as to the best course of action.





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