UK Traffic Law
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Do you accept that adequate signage was displayed in the car park notifying you of the requirements for paring in the space please or was signage lacking in your view?
I didn't see the signage until I found the ticket on my screen, I have no idea that tickets could be issued in the car park as it is free to park there. I knew the bay was disabled and parked there because my daughter is disabled but in my rush to get her to a cinema party I completely forgot to display the blue badge!
Private tickets used to be unenforceable if the registered keeper refused to identify the driver but that changed last year when the Protection of Freedoms Act outlawed clamping and provided enhanced measures for parking companies to enforce private tickets. The PoFA provides that if a registered keeper refuses to identify the driver within 28 days then the registered keeper is liable for the demand.
However the Act has not authorised private parking firms to issue fines. These demands are still nothing better than invoices demanding payment for breach of contract - the contract is formed by the use of signs warning to display tickets/permits or risk a ticket (invoice) at the advertised rate.
Being a contract the ordinary rules of contract apply whereby they must prove that they displayed adequate signage to enable a driver parking there to know of the requirements; evidence of loss on their part as a result of the breach of contract and evidence that they have attempted to mitigate their loss.
How you choose to proceed depends on your appetite for risk. You may be able to argue that they failed to provide adequate signage and therefore may fail to show that a contract was formed when you entered the car park or parking area; alternatively or in addition they would struggle to show any loss from your overstay which from what you say was minutes at most. They will attempt to claim admin costs and so on but they would still struggle to demonstrate a loss of any significance compared to the amount they will no doubt attempt to claim - solicitors costs cannot be claimed if they go to court as the matter would be a small claims hearing if it was pursued. Generally a doubling of the fee if not paid (as is often provided for on these claims) within a certain period is almost certainly unenforceable in contract law.
Accordingly you may either pay the amount demanded or simply ignore the various threatening letters that will ensue should you fail to do so. All they can do is issue proceedings in the County Court to sue you for the amount demanded plus costs which would be in the order of £35. Historically they almost never did so because they would find it very difficult to win. Now they have a better position in that they can sue the registered keeper under the above act but they must still prove loss and so on as above which is not easy. There is no evidence of large scale claims in the county courts though the Act is still relatively young.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
Thanks, I was happy to ignore the parking company but panicked when the letter arrived from debt collection company! I want to fight this all the way and think I am happy to continue to ignore based on your response. I basically have to hope they do not sue and take me to court. If they do... I need to prove inadequate signage and prove that no loss was incurred on them?
Have I understood correctly? Please confirm?
The debt collector is still just a company chasing a debt. They have no special powers.
That is essentially correct. If they do issue proceedings your defences principally will be lack of signage to establish a contract, lack of evidence of loss on their part and failure to mitigate their loss.
OK thank you, XXXXX XXXXX save this info in case I need it in future! One more thing... my husband is worried about baliffs knocking, can this happen?
Yes certainly. It will save to your account. I can ask customer services to email you a copy of you would like? Bailiffs can only collect a debt ordered by a court. This cannot happen without your being given the opportunity to defend the matter. You have 28 days to pay any court order after which the claimant can apply for a warrant which authorises bailiffs to collect the same.
That's great thank you, XXXXX XXXXX thought that debt collectors could send the baliffs! I can set my husbands mind at rest now :o) If you could get it mailed to me that would be great. Thanks for your help.
No they can send someone around to speak to you but that person is just a private person and you can ask them to leave. If they refuse you can call the police and claim harassment.
Feel a lot better about it now, thanks again
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