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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Traffic Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I have received a Parking Charge Notice claiming that my vehicle

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I have received a Parking Charge Notice claiming that my vehicle was parked and that I was "not using the facilities at time of parking" at a retail park near Cardiff. I was parked in the retail park and visited various retail establishments and made purchasers (Costco, Costa Coffee and M&S). Is this enforceable and should I respond along the lines detailed? Unfortunately I have not retained any purchase receipts!
Hi

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

I presume those establishments are within the relevant retail park?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Yes they are all within the retail park in question.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


FOR JOMO 1972


 


Apologies, as I responded without your reference.


 


Yes, the retail establishments are within the relevant retail park.

Thanks.

What was the date of issue please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972


 


The date of the event was the 3rd August 2013.

And I presume you paid in cash in all of these establishments?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972


 


Sorry for the delay, I just had to check my credit card statement. Unfortunately all my transactions at the retail park were in cash (all relatively low value items).

Thanks. You have two options.

The first is to appeal this on facts. You do have the challenge that you were legitimately in the retail park and while you may not be able to prove that you did but they cannot prove that you did not and they have the burden of proof.

Also, this is a private land fine. They are not parking fines whatever they may look like. I realise that many of them mimic those issued by the council or the police but they do not have the same authority.

A private land firm is not an emanation of the state. It does not have the right to punish you for the manner of your parking any more than your neighbours do.

This is essentially an invoice arising from a civil dispute. They say that you accepted a contract by parking there and breached it by staying too long or otherwise parking at variance with the contract.

Private land fines used to be very easy to escape by refusing the details of the driver. They only have a contract with the driver. Unfortunately the Protection of Freedoms Act came into force in October 2012 and it makes the registered keeper liable for the penalty if he does not disclose the details of the driver within 28 days.

All that means is that the claim runs against the registered keeper. It just makes it easier to find the person against whom there should be enforcement.

The chances are high that they will not sue. Even though the law has recently changed in their favour and they were quite aggressive in the beginning, they do not sue in the majority of cases.

If they do sue then they would only have a claim for the sum of the original fine plus about £35 in costs. They will send you debt collection letters in which they will threaten to sue you for their debt collection costs. Do not be intimidated by that. They have no claim for that.

Even if they do go to court, they would still have to prove that the signs are adequate and clear. Quite often they are not.

Also, they will have to prove that they have suffered loss. They may be able to claim a very small amount in administration costs but it is going to be the sum they are trying to claim from you. Their loss would seem to amount to no more than about £5.

They will send you some very nasty letters though. You will get debt collection letters making threats of legal action. They will probably get Graham Whyte solicitors to write to you as well. None of these are anything to worry about. It will not impact upon your credit history and it will not add to the costs.

Unless you actually get a court summons, none of these correspondences have any legal basis. If you do get a court summons then you can always part admit the claim and offer £5 for their loss.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
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