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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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    ‘I’m anxious I might need huge debts for parking at work – do I actually have to pay up?’

    Dear Jo,

    You might be certainly one of many drivers who find themselves on the receiving end of letters like this from private parking corporations who operate automobile parking arrangements on private wind up and down the country.

    Initially, let me be clear that you’ve not received a “positive”. A positive is a set penalty issued by a public body and payable to the general public purse. Within the context of parking, fines are issued by an area authority for parking offences on public land, comparable to the general public highway or council owned automobile parks.

    On campus, you park on private land owned by the university. The university has outsourced supervision of the parking to a non-public parking company. That company has sent you an invoice for the profit you’ve received from using the land in query, namely parking on it.

    The figure of £70 that you’ve been asked to pay is an arbitrary figure with no basis in law. It’s an identical figure to parking fines issued by the local authority, but in legal terms it’s entirely distinct from a parking positive. It’s just an invoice.

    But it surely is an inflated invoice you’ve not agreed on. The invoice you were expecting to pay is one for the standard every day parking charge. On this case, I believe it will be entirely reasonable so that you can offer to pay the standard every day parking charge and not more than that.

    The legal rationale for that is that the one way the private parking company can implement the payment is to take legal motion against you for money owed in respect of the parking. Again, I make the purpose that that is different from a parking positive issued by an area authority, which unless you’ve a defence, is straight away payable without further court motion being required.

    Here there isn’t a legally enforceable debt without court motion, and court motion has not occurred yet. The one way the private parking company can implement the payment it has demanded is to take you to court on the premise you’ve parked on land without paying and due to this fact the landowner is entitled to compensation for his or her loss. You may head off that argument by explaining the circumstances which occurred by way of you not being aware of the brand new parking payment regime, but as soon as you became aware you offered to pay all the standard every day parking charges. When you do this, it’ll be hard to argue the landowner is out of pocket because you’ve acted unlawfully.

    Within the circumstances of this case, the dearth of publicity and general awareness raising as to the brand new parking regime is a crucial aspect of your argument to pay not more than the standard every day parking charges. Your case is you’d have paid as required when you had known. You being sent only one email concerning the change of arrangements and never any follow-up emails, and the apparent failure to erect signage within the automobile parks warning of the brand new rules, makes the cynical lawyer in me think the brand new parking company hoped to profiteer by catching people unawares.  

    I might also have an interest to know if any of your colleagues have also been “caught out”. In cases like this there’s strength in numbers, because if many other people were unaware of the brand new system of payment, it lends credence to an argument it was poorly publicised.

    That said, the central legal argument is in your favour anyway. You may (presumably) show you usually paid in full and on time under the old regime, and as soon as you became aware of the very fact you had not paid up up to now under the brand new system, you offered to place it right. I believe that will probably be enough for this to be resolved.

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