Parking Charge Notices (private land)
Parking Charge Notices also known as private parking tickets can be issued to vehicles parked on private land if conditions for use of a private car park have not been met or the vehicle is parked on private land where no parking is allowed.
They are however not “fines” or “penalties” which cannot be imposed. Private parking companies basically place “invoices” on a vehicle or send them to the Registered Keeper.
Parking Charge Notices are issued by private companies employed by land owners such as supermarkets or even residents in a block of flats to either protect their land from motorists parking on it or to enforce parking contraventions in private car parks. We agree that motorists should not obstruct private land and should abide by the terms and conditions when parking in privately owned car parks. There must also be a remedy available for private land owners to stop unauthorised parking. However, and it is a big however, we do not support enforcement when the signs are not clear and visible, we do not support enforcement when the charges are extortionate, we do not support enforcement when it is designed to trap motorists and make money, we do not support enforcement when it is for silly petty things like parking an inch outside a bay marking, we do not support companies that use threatening lauguage in their letters and we do not support clamping and towing except in extreme circumstances.
The latest assault on the motorist from these private parking companies are at places such as Airports where they introduce a “NO STOPPING” restriction. However we have seen many situations where they use “No Stopping” signs with double yellow lines. Double yellow lines actually mean “No Waiting” so you can stop to drop of someone or collect them if they are at the roadside. We are currently assisting a motorist in an appeal on the basis that the signs and markings contradict each other.
The Parking Charge Notice
Some companies dress these up to look like official fines and use words like “penalty” or even “fine” Do not be intimidated by official looking parking charge notices or threatening language used. In fact you will see from our section “how to appeal a private parking ticket” that the wording on, or even the design of a parking charge notice can render it unenforceable. Private companies cannot impose “fines” or “penalties” on a citizen and use of such language could well invalidate the parking penalty notice.
Their payment demands are actually invoices which are misleadingly often “dressed up” to look like a criminal offence fine (see pictures in our sample parking penalty notices section).
Companies use official looking boarders, the scales of justice symbol, abbreviations like “PCN,” and often put the tickets in official looking Polly bags or send them out in official looking envelopes.
We can see no other reason why private companies officialise these invoices other than to persuade motorists to pay up.
The BBC watchdog programme looked at parking charge notices and the designs used to make them look official and compared them with official council issued notices. The majority of people questioned thought that the private tickets looked more official!
There are many ways that you can appeal a private parking ticket. please see our section “how to appeal a private parking ticket” accessed from the left hand menu for full details.
There are two types of private parking land parking charge notices
Firstly, parking charge notices issued in a place where parking is allowed subject to certain terms and conditions such as payment required or a maximum stay. –When you enter a car park on private land you are deemed to have agreed to abide by any terms and conditions, if clearly displayed and stated. If there is an alleged breach of these conditions such as not paying and displaying or staying longer than permitted a private company may issue a Parking Charge Notice. This type of enforcement is dealt with under the Law of Contract where there cannot be any element of penalty so the ticket may be unenforceable. There is a lot of case law on what would amount to liquidated damages and what would amount to a penalty In some recent cases the parking companies have lost at court or only achieved a pyrrhic victory. (see our section on appealing a private parking ticket for details)
Secondly, there are parking charge notices issued where no parking is invited or allowed by members of the public. These are areas where typically clamping and towing was used previously. It may be land where no parking whatsoever is allowed or where parking is only allowed by permit holders for example in a residential block of flats. In these circumstances a ticket can be issued for a parking charge so long as the charge is clearly shown on signs and is an amount which is “appropriate”. These tickets are dealt with under the law of trespass and again there is case law. (see our section on appealing a private parking ticket for details)
If a ticket is issued and not paid the private parking company obtains the registered keepers details from the DVLA and writes to them. If the parking charge notice is issued by CCTV it is sent directly to the registered keeper of the vehicle.