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Private Parking Tickets Court Cases – Examples and Tips 2022

private-parking ticket court cases

For free and impartial money advice and guidance, visit MoneyHelper, to help you make the most of your money.

In this guide, we will answer all the common questions about private parking fines and legal action. We’ll also discuss some notable private parking tickets court cases, including how one woman ended up having to pay £24,500. 

Read on to learn all about Parking Charge Notices and potential court cases – and how to avoid them! 

Do You Have to Pay?

In many circumstances parking tickets are not enforceable.

It’s a bit sneaky, but last time I had a parking fine, I paid £5 for a trial to chat to an online solicitor.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

You can try it out now, just remember to cancel the trial once you’ve got your answer.

What is a private parking ticket?

A private parking ticket can be issued to motorists by private companies and car park management businesses. They are officially known as Parking Charge Notices, which should not be confused with Penalty Charge Notices issued by local authorities. 

Most Parking Charge Notices will be given to motorists for not paying for parking or for overstaying in a private parking zone. They can be left on a windshield by a car park warden, or they can be sent to your address if caught on special cameras that monitor vehicles based on their number plate. The car park company will have to request your address from the DVLA when sending it in the post. 

The cost of a private parking ticket is capped at £50 outside of London and £80 within London. But the private company must offer you a minimum 40% discount if you pay the fine within 14 calendar days. Thus, your fine could be as low as £30 outside of London or £48 inside the capital. The cap was reduced in 2022. 

Do you have to pay private parking fines (UK)?

You may have heard you can ignore Parking Charge Notices and get away without paying, but this isn’t always the case. The private company could decide to escalate the matter to the point where you are legally obligated to pay the money.

Parking Charge Notices are not a real penalty or fine. They are identical to a business invoice. The business believes you are responsible to pay the invoice, and if you don’t, they can take further action against you. 

What happens if you don’t pay private parking tickets?

You are usually given 28 days to either pay or appeal against the Parking Charge Notice. If you don’t pay or appeal within this period, the parking firm could:

  1. Send you reminders
  2. Add late fees and charges to the amount
  3. Ask a debt collection agency to chase you for payment
  4. They might even sell the “debt” to a debt collection company

Each private company or car park operator is different and may follow a different process to try and recover the money. Some of them work with the same debt collection agency each time, so they instantly outsource the task of getting the money to their usual debt collection company

Can private parking companies take you to court?

Private parking companies can take you to court if you haven’t paid or appealed against the Parking Charge Notice within 28 days. They will ask a judge to issue you with a court order that makes it your legal responsibility to pay. If this occurs, you should do your best to pay the money owed, which may have now increased due to court costs. 

If you were to ignore a court order requesting that you pay the parking fine (plus costs), the private company could ask the courts to allow them to use enforcement action. If approved – which is likely – they could then use bailiffs to recover the money or seize your possessions ready for sale at an auction. Or they could use other methods, such as taking money from your wages. 

Notice of intended court action unpaid parking charge

Before a private company can take you to court over a parking fine or any other debt, they must make an effort to resolve the issue. Part of this process involves writing a letter to the motorist. They must write to them and explain how much is owed and why it is owed. The letter should then explain that if the amount isn’t paid then the company will pursue court action. 

These letters can be sent by the car park operator directly, but it’s more common for them to be sent by a debt collection agency or law firm working on their behalf. Take a look at this experience from a popular forum:

“Now I have received a letter again from DRP saying notice of intended court action – unpaid parking charge £130 and that if I don’t pay what I owe by 07/08/2014 or not agreed to a payment option then they will pass the file to the solicitors recommending commencing court action against me.”

  • Bean666 (Money Saving Expert Forum)

Even though no firm is supposed to send these letters unless there is a reasonable chance of pursuing legal action, some still do it solely as a scare tactic. They send them in the hope that you’ll get worried about court action and further expense, and so you will pay the fine.

Of course, many parking firms send these with a genuine intention of going to court if you don’t pay. And that’s why assuming they won’t take further action is a risk. 

Do private parking companies win in court?

A judge will usually side with the car park company when it has been operating the car park correctly, followed the correct procedures, and when it had the right to serve you with a Parking Charge Notice.

For example, the car park company might need to show that they had the correct signage in place when you used the car park. Moreover, the company will need to prove it has followed the correct procedures, such as issuing the fine within the time limit and offering a discount when you pay within the first 14 days. 

However, every case is unique and who wins in court will be based on individual factors. 

Can you get a CCJ for not paying a private parking ticket?

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) can be issued for not paying a private parking ticket when you don’t respond to the company’s claim against you

A CCJ is a type of court order that is automatically issued when the defendant doesn’t respond to the claim. So if a private parking firm notifies you that they’re taking you to court and you don’t respond, a default judgment could be issued making you responsible to pay. 

A CCJ might also be issued against you if you didn’t respond because you weren’t aware of the legal action. This is possible if you were in the process of moving when the Parking Charge Notice was served. You might not have updated your address with the DVLA, so the private company sent letters to your old address which weren’t returned.  

Having a CCJ or other court judgement served against you could cause problems when trying to access credit in the future. 

Private parking tickets court cases examples

We have put together a couple of examples of private parking ticket court cases. The two examples below are some of the most interesting in the UK. Let’s take a look:

Parking Eye Limited Vs Barry Beavis

Parking Eye Limited Vs Barry Beavis is one of the most important parking ticket court cases because it escalated to the Supreme Court and set a precedent for future cases. It is this case that often gets referenced by private parking companies to suggest motorists have to pay their fine – despite it not being a real fine. 

Barry Beavis wanted to challenge the legality of private firms issuing fines to motorists. The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Parking Eye Limited, so Mr Beavis decided to escalate the matter to the Supreme Court, which is the most senior court in England and Wales. 

However, the Supreme Court also ruled in favour of Parking Eye Limited, stating that the company was in its right to charge motorists for not paying or overstaying their parking on the condition that the amount charged wasn’t out of proportion. At the time, the £85 charged to Mr Beavid was judged to be in proportion and he had to eventually pay.

Court orders woman to pay £24,500 to private parking company

If the Supreme Court ruled that private companies have the right to issue Parking Charge Notices as long as they are in proportion, how did one lady from Glasgow end up being ordered to pay a £24,500 car park fine? 

The BBC reported how a 28-year-old woman was ordered by the court to pay a substantial amount for repeatedly ignoring parking tickets in the same spot. The woman had refused to get a monthly parking permit costing £40 and instead chose to park outside the property that her dad was renting. 

The matter has escalated to an eye-watering amount owed simply because the woman was sure that the fines were not valid or enforceable. But after being taken to court, she found out that they can become enforceable – and she found out the hard way. 

Can private parking tickets send bailiffs?

Private parking companies can only send bailiffs to recover the money owed if a judge has served you with an order to pay or a CCJ. But even then, they can only use bailiffs when you are continuing to avoid payment or reject a payment plan. 

The parking company staff cannot come to your home and act like bailiffs. They must employ enforcement agents themselves and only they can attempt to recover the money or seize your goods. You should also know that bailiffs add their own fees to the debt, which can make the amount owed substantially more. 

Debt collection agencies are not bailiffs and don’t have the same legal powers as bailiffs. They must leave your property when asked. 

Can you go to jail for not paying parking tickets (UK)?

You can’t be sent to prison for not paying a Parking Charge Notice from a private company. Interestingly, you also can’t be sent to prison for not paying a Penalty Charge Notice from your local council. However, both of these parking tickets can result in court action and debt enforcement, such as the use of bailiffs. 

Will a private parking company take me to court?

There’s no way of knowing for certain whether a private parking company will take you to court or not. They might just try to scare you into paying with legal threats, but they might really be planning to take you to court. This is why ignoring a Letter Before Action (LBA) is a risk, especially when court action could create further costs. 

It could be more likely that the private parking company will take you to court if the letter comes from a law firm or solicitors working on their behalf, compared to a debt collection company with no legal staff. However, even this isn’t a predictable indicator. 

You could check forum posts to see other people’s experiences with the same companies and try and work out how serious the company is about taking you to court. Although this may not be very telling either. 

Parking Charge Notice court costs

Court costs to discuss a private parking fee are not as expensive as you might think. They will differ between cases because of varying solicitor fees. But you should only expect to pay around £100-£175, including the filing fee, appearance costs, solicitor fee and travel expenses. 

How long does a private parking company have to take you to court?

The company can only chase a debt within the last six years. If it is older than six years the courts won’t entertain the case. 

More interestingly, they must serve you with the Parking Charge Notice within 14 days. If they don’t do so without good reason, you could use this as an excuse to not have to pay. 

Tips to avoid a private parking court case

The only way to be 100% sure of avoiding a court case against a parking company is to:

  1. Pay the fine (preferably within 14 days to make the most of the 40% discount) 
  2. Appeal the fine
  3. Appeal and then pay the fine
  4. Discuss a payment plan option if you are experiencing financial difficulty (this payment plan could be available to help you spread the cost of the fine. 

How do I appeal a Parking Charge Notice?

You appeal a Parking Charge Notice by first making a challenge against the parking ticket to the company that issued it. You must do this within 28 days or you’ll lose your opportunity to do so. You can often make this appeal online or you’ll have to write a letter (use recorded delivery!). You cannot make a Parking Charge Notice appeal over the phone.

The appeal itself must include the reasons you think the parking ticket was unfair and should be cancelled. You may be required to provide evidence to support your arguments, especially if they cannot be verified. The parking firm should respond to your appeal in writing and cancel the parking ticket if they agree with you and your evidence.

If they write to reject the appeal, the company must provide information on how to escalate the appeal to an independent tribunal. The tribunal is free to use but you must use a specific one based on the Accredited Trade Association (ATA) that the company is a member of. For example, private car park companies that are a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) must direct appeal escalations to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA). 

Best excuses for private parking tickets

Some excuses are more likely to win you an appeal than others. Naturally, they will only be useful if they are true and you can prove it. The best excuses for private parking fines are:

  1. You were parked correctly
  2. You were within the grace period (a fine cannot be issued within a 10 minute grace period)
  3. There was no method to pay
  4. You broke down
  5. Your hospital appointment ran over or was delayed
  6. The ticket was served too late
  7. There were no signs or they weren’t visible

Do You Have to Pay?

In many circumstances parking tickets are not enforceable.

It’s a bit sneaky, but last time I had a parking fine, I paid £5 for a trial to chat to an online solicitor.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

You can try it out now, just remember to cancel the trial once you’ve got your answer.

Free support dealing with Parking Charge Notices

MoneyNerd offers further guidance and information to help you deal with parking tickets in the UK. We also help you fight back against council parking tickets. Check out our other guides for more free support!