Thursday, 14 April 2016

Judge slams ParkingEye's lack of humanity for filing claim for 4/14 minute overstay

ParkingEye's claim for an overstay was thrown out of court in York by DJ Wildsmith.

The claim revolved around a parking incident where a mother was travelling with a young baby. On arrival the baby was sick, and the mother had to visit the bathroom to clean up the baby. Following that, a ticket was purchased which, as shown in court, had an expiry time of 16:35. ParkingEye sent a parking charge for overstaying by 14 minutes, departing at 16:00. The terms and conditions of the car park allowed a top-up purchase at any time.

The victim appealed, but ParkingEye lost the paperwork, claiming the appeal was never received, and refusing to allow an appeal later.

In their defence, the victim argued that as ParkingEye's ANPR system knew the time of entry to the car park, that it was reasonable to expect the ticket machine to take this into account, and for the time on it to print the correct time. they also pointed out that the British Parking Association allowed a grace period on entering or leaving the car park.

ParkingEye's advocate spoke to the victim before the hearing started and explained their case was that the victim should have appealed and that the Supreme Court case of ParkingEye v Beavis would be relevant.

The judge disagreed and ended up giving the advocate a telling off for the case even coming to court. The judge ignored her pleas about the Supreme Court and then slammed her for Parkingeye's deficient appeal process. She then tried arguing about the time paid for the ticket, and that the victim should have known to pay for more before she left. The judge quizzed her on the grace period and the judge surmised that at worst the victim overstayed 14 minutes, at best 4 minutes and given the circumstances to bring her to court for 4 minutes lacked humanity.

The hearing came to an abrupt end. The judge had already mentioned the humanity of the situation earlier and stated it was on this ground that ParkingEye should have dealt with it at appeal as, at best the dispute was over 4 minutes. The appeals procedure should have been more accessible and ParkingEye should not have brought it to court.

The claim was dismissed but without costs.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster


  1. This guy was sorely needed in the Supreme Court.
    At least he wasn't blinded by the rhetoric of Beavis applying here.

  2. Genuinely surprised by this result.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Seems to me to go completely against para 111 of the judgment. They do make reference to the grace period, but they note that the CoP is not binding and, in law, they do not regard it as relevant how long the overstay was, or what the circumstances were.

    3. Not really. Para 111 talks about the protection offered by the appeals procedure, and in this case PE's appeals procedure had been ruled as deficient by the Judge. If the appeal had been properly considered on the facts, the charge would most likely have been cancelled, and the matter never brought to court. It seems that your average District Judge is far more capable of applying common sense than some members of the judiciary in more elevated positions.

    4. Length of overstay and circumstances are entirely relevant. A binding contract cannot be formed with someone who is driving a car, given the complexity of your average t&c signage. The motorist will enter, park, read and contemplate the nearest sign and then decide whether to stay or go. It is at this point that the contract begins and not when driving past an ANPR camera.

      Similarly, an exit grace period is necessary as some retail parks feed onto busy ring roads via a signal controlled exit.

      Circumstances are entirely relevant.

    5. That is the way it should be. The law requires certainty, not one district judges feelings as to what is right and what is not, where opinion will differ between judges.

      The judges certainly do make references to the appeals procedure but what they do say in black and white is that, in law, it is irrelevant how long the overstay was and it is irrelevant whether it arose due to unforeseen circumstances.

      The decision may have been right morally, but I do not think it was right in law.

    6. @Ewan

      No, the situation you suggest was almost entirely catered for and disregarded by the Court.

      "As for the suggestion that the overstay may have arisen from
      unforeseen circumstances, we find it hard to regard that as relevant. The object of
      the £85 charge is simply to influence the behaviour of motorists by causing them to
      leave within two hours. It is reasonable that the risk of exceeding it should rest with
      the motorist, who is in a position to organise his time as he sees fit. There are many
      circumstances in life when the only way of being on time is to allow for contingency
      and arrive early"

      In their view then, it is clear that it is for the motorist to plan their time themselves to ensure they don't get caught up in exit traffic.

      I do not express a view on whether that is, or should be, right. But it is the law in the eyes of the Supreme Court.

    7. I don't think you can apply that as a blanket covering all cases, there will always be exceptions. For example, motorist returns to car in plenty of time to exit before free parking period expires, and the car won't start. Calls out breakdown service, they take 2 hours to arrive. What's he supposed to do in the meantime, push the car out on to the road? This would be defendable under the doctrine of Frustration of Contract.

    8. Of course there will, but I do not think the circumstances of this case would fall within those exceptions. In the case of a breakdown you could of course argue frustration arising from an impossibility to perform your contractual obligations.

      The courts will not be keen to extend the doctrine of frustration to cover 'unforeseen circumstances' which make up the milieu of daily life.

      Fair? Perhaps not, but that's not the point.

  3. I was not referring to the Beavis case specifically but since you have brought it up…….. Beavis could not benefit from this argument due to the amount of overstay in his particular case, something like an hour or thereabouts. An hour or so would be clearly stretching the concept of grace periods but 4 minutes or even 14 minutes for that matter is most certainly not a stretch.

    As for planning your time to avoid traffic jams, there are many incidents that cause traffic jams. They can happen without any warning and are outside the control of motorists trying to exit a car park. No one plans getting into traffic jams.

    Let us see if we understand you correctly then. Once someone has found their parking space, parked, read, understood and agreed to the terms of the contract, the contract should then be backdated to when the motorist first passed the ANPR camera (the motorist would have made a mental note of this due to their excellent time keeping skills). They should then be preparing to drive off at least 30 minutes prior to the expiry of the maximum stay period so as to cover all eventualities.

    This being the case, we can now add to the ever growing list of all the driver needs,
    A watch
    A telescope
    Night vision goggles
    A bulldozer
    A flux capacitor

    1. I'm not sure why you are making this personal by saying 'let us see if we understand you correctly'.

      All that I am doing is relying the law as laid down by the Supreme Court. This isn't how I think things should be, this is just how things are.

      The judges state at [111] that it is irrelevant if the overstay is even one minute!

    2. It's not personal, it's a rebuttal to the point I believe you are making, i.e, 1 minute, 1 hour, same animal. On a point of pedantry you are correct, an overstay is exactly that but that is if you can demonstrate that the minute overstay was deliberate. If Barry beavis' overstay was by a minute I'm sure the case would never have travelled as far as the Supreme Court. Speculation, I know but the judgement was delivered due in no small part to a 56 minute overstay which cannot legitimately be considered from a grace period perspective. The Lords in 111 were clearly treating the minute example as an overstay.

      My reasoning can be illustrated thus. You are in a 2 hour car park and you set off to leave 1hr 45mins after you have arrived. For one reason or another you pass the exit camera resulting in a time of 2hrs 5mins. I say that you have not breached the contract as whether your car was stationary or not, you were in a state of transit and therefore attempting to leave.

  4. @Ewan You forgot one thing. A fully serviceable crystal ball.

  5. Meant to add... one of my local Asdas is close to a major traffic roundabout, several junctions and a travel interchange. Any incident close to this area and the place is totally gridlocked and it is not an infrequent occurrence.
    I once took 1h 45m to get out of the car park after a bus broke down at a nearby junction - that was the last time I risked parking in there.