Parking enforcement under scrutiny at Court of Appeal
Published: 25 February, 2015
The ruling of a test case at the Court of Appeal could have a huge impact on parking enforcement on private land.
An Essex chip shop owner, Barry Beavis, has taken his case to the Court of Appeal after he was fined £85 by ParkingEye for overstaying the two-hour limit at the Riverside Retail Park in Chelmsford in 2013.
ParkingEye argued the charges were "a commercially justified deterrent" for a city centre car park close to a station and a court complex where it was necessary to discourage overstayers, and a previous decision in May last year found the charge did not breach the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.
While Beavis agrees he should have to pay a charge for overstaying in the car park, he argues that it is a long-established common law principle that companies can only demand compensation from consumers to cover genuine losses, and that higher deterrent charges are unenforceable.
Representing Beavis, Sa'ad Hossain QC argued that Judge Moloney, who presided over the first case, had taken a wrong approach to the law and the charge amounted to "a penalty clause". To be lawful, charges should be set at levels meant only to compensate for any loss in achieving the aim of deterring overstayers and not to make large profits.
If Beavis wins the landmark case, it will spell an end to “unlawful and disproportionate” parking charges, and would set a precedent that might allow thousands of disgruntled drivers to get refunds for parking fines.
Lord Justice Moore-Bick, sitting with Lord Justice Patten and Judge Sir Timothy Lloyd, have deferred the ruling until a later date.