Tuesday, 20 January 2015

British Parking Association says fines for short overstays are unfair and not legally enforceable

The interview can be heard on iplayer at this link.

It is about 1:21 in. Iain Lee is interviewing Dave Smith from the British Parking Association.

Iain Lee: But those ones that for for a hundred quid fine for being fifteen minutes over, it's a bit tight isn't it?
David Smith: Yes I think 15 minutes is, is, is a little, a little  ..and I think most motorists wouldn't receive a ticket for that..overstay 15 minutes
I: But they do it's automatically generated isn't it? By a computer so there is no human element going "Well this is only 5,10,15 minutes we'll let them off"; it's generated automatically
D: No there's always a human element involved. I've seen behind the scenes where these operations take place and you know it's not in these companies interests to issue a ticket that is wrong. They will want to make sure they are providing a service on behalf of the landowner
I: Well 15 minutes wouldn't be wrong and we know that it does happen so how is that justified?
D: Well, its not justified, I mean...
I: So why do they do it?
D: Well the parking operators are managing the land on behalf of a landowner, typically a retailer. They're providing a service to the landowner. What we don't want is a situation where motorists are parking all day every day in a car park they're not actually using the service available
I: But you've still not quite answered the question. Why is is fair to fine someone £100 for being 15 minutes over when they've spend a few hundred quid in the shop?
D: Well I mean its not always £100. I mean there are guidelines in place and we recommend that the maximum charge is £100...
I: Ok
D: ...its around £80, £75 and then there's a discount as well to 40%. If people feel the ticket is unfair they can appeal that ticket.
I: I'm going to ask the question one more time Dave because maybe you're not hearing. Why do you think its acceptable to fine people up to £100 if they are 15 minutes over their limit?
D: Well it doesn't happen. In the majority of cases...
I: Well it does happen though. We know it happens. We've just spoken to someone who has instances of it happening. So why do you think its fair?
D: Well if it isn't fair Iain, then people should appeal that ticket and there are processes in place to allow them to do that.
I: Why do YOU think its fair?
D: I don't think it's fair that...
I: So it's unfair. You're from the British Parking Association and you're saying its unfair that people who are 15 minutes over the limit should be fined £100. Up to £100.
D: It simply isn't the case in the majority of instances
I: No but it happens and you just said its unfair
D: It happens in a minority of cases
I: Is it unfair?
D: It happens, but it isn't the norm Iain. It isn't something that happens...
I: Ok those minority of cases it happens, is it unfair?
D: That's for the appeals service to decide
I: Well not you from can give me your opinion as someone from the British Parking Association. Is it unfair?
D: There are so many different instances that...
I: Ok here's an instance. Someone has parked for 15 minutes longer than they should have done. they get a fine of lets say £80. Is that fair?
D: As the current situation stands that is what motorists have to contend with and they should appeal that ticket if they think its unfair.
I: But is it (laughs) is it fair?
D: Iain it's not for us to decide it's for the appeals service to decide.
I: But you did just say it was unfair a minute ago and you seem to be backtracking
D: Well no, well no I'm just thinking about what I said and um er...
I: You're regretting it? So you thought it was unfair, then you reconsidered it and now you think its fair?
D: No, no, no you're twisting my words I'm afraid.
I: Ok, well you did say its unfair. That's not twisting, that's what you said.
D: I think what I'm saying is that there is a process in place for any motorist...
I: (laughs)
D: ...who wants to appeal a ticket...
I: Right
D: ...and it's for the appeals service to decide whether that ticket issued was fair or not.
I: Ok. Making it difficult for people to go shopping and do things isn't it?
D: Well no I think we've got to think about the landowner here. The landowner is providing a service for the motorist and what we don't want is a situation where the cost of that charge is £10..£20 and therefore the motorist says "Oh well I'll just park here all day then as I'm happy with that cost"
I: Yes yes, its a nice little earner isn't it?
D: I don't think so no.
I: How much do these companies make?
D: Parking is never free Iain we have to realise that
I: How much do these companies make Dave?
D: Well it varies you know
I: Well go on then give us an example
D: I don't know. I mean I don't know the financial figures of all these companies. That's not the way we operate, We're a membership association
I: Right cos a private landowner isn't going to do it for free are they?
D: Parking isn't free
I: Its a business
D: Well I think the misconception is that parking is free. A free parking space costs money. The cost of providing that service is the...
I: How much does it cost?
D: It depends. It depends on what the operator says that it costs
I: What about this thing that we've heard that if you get one of these they are not enforceable by law?
D: Well I mean they have to justify their costs to us
I: Are these fines sent out by these private parking companies...are they enforceable by law
D: They are not enforceable by law because...
I: So then why would anyone want to pay them
D: Because they are parking in a car park
I: Right
D: They are agreeing to the terms and conditions in that car park which are clearly set out in signage at the entrance to the car park and throughout the car park. Those guidelines are in place and they should be adhered to.
I: But if its not legally enforceable - and thanks for telling everyone that Dave because that's certainly going to help a lot of people - then you get one of these fines through the letterbox you might as well just rip it up if they can't enforce it. No ones going to pay it voluntarily are they?
D: Well they can be pursued by the parking company
I: But if its not legally enforceable whats that pursuance going to do apart from be classified as harassment?
D: Well no,  it's not harassment it's..they've agreed when they park in that car park to abide by the terms and conditions; then they are agreeing in a contract...
I: You've just said it's not legally enforceable
D: What I'm saying is legislation doesn't exist on private land in the same way that...
I: So its not legally enforceable?
D: Well no. There is no legislation that exists...
I: So don't pay it then
D: What we would like to see is for government to regulate private parking
I: Well! One final question Dave. If someone is 15 minutes over their limit is it fair they should get an £85 fine?
D: It depends on circumstances of that particular parking act
I: Dave thank you very much indeed.

Prankster Note

Always appeal your parking charge if you think the amount is too high. If the charge is for breach of contract then the law currently is that the charge must equal the loss, so a charge of £20-£40 may well be enforceable, while a charge of £100 would not.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. It beats me why these prats even attend for interviews. They know they can only dig a hole for themselves.
    Wonder if a transcript of the interview could be used as evidence to support the case in defence.

    1. Unlikely to make much difference to the case. Dave Smith doesn't decide what is or isn't legally enforceable, his statements are largely irrelevant legally.

  2. And they wonder why their members are jumping ship to IPC.

    BPA may be useless but they are the best of a bad bunch.

  3. The BPA are largely irrelevant I think you will find.

  4. tell the landowner they've provided a service when I didn't use any of the businesses with premises there for 12 months after having to defend in Small Claims. Only one winner there.