Supreme Court rules £85 parking fine is not excessive

Published by Mark King on 05 November 2015.
Last updated on 05 November 2015

a packed car park of parked cars

A man who challenged an £85 parking fine by taking it to the highest court in the UK has lost his case, with Supreme Court judges ruling that private parking fines should stand as long as they are not “excessive”.
Beavis, a fish and chip shop owner from Chelmsford, was issued with the £85 fine in 2013 by ParkingEye after he overstayed the two-hour free parking offered by a retail estate car park in the city. He says the charge should be ruled unlawful as it is "unreasonable and excessive".
But he was forced to take his case to the highest court in the country after his claim was rejected by the Court of Appeal in April. That case has now been rejected by the Supreme Court
The Court’s judgment stated: “The charge was neither extravagant nor unconscionable, having regard to practice around the United Kingdom, and taking into account the use of this particular car park and the clear wording of the notices.”
John de Waal QC of Hardwicke law firm, who had advised Beavis during the case, explained: “The Supreme Court has decided that the charge is not a penalty because it is commercially justified, the reasoning being that such a charge is necessary to manage parking efficiently and deter overstayers. They decided that the charge was not excessive having regard to the level of charges imposed by local authorities. They also decided it was not unfair because it underpinned a business model whose object was the efficient management of the car park.”
Beavis said the ruling meant the law has been changed “for the benefit of corporate profit and to the detriment of the consumer.”
He added: “The doctrine of penalties has been re-written. Penalty charges are acceptable if they're not excessive. What's excessive? A Supreme Court judge thinks £85 is not excessive, but is it? To the man in the street? I guess if you earn £214,000 a year £85 isn't excessive.
“The change in the law paves the way for other businesses to levy fines on unsuspecting consumers.”
Beavis is now calling for the government to step in and introduce a regulatory body with a single code of practice, a single appeals process and regulatory powers to police private parking companies.
ParkingEye said in a statement: “ParkingEye’s advice to motorists remains the same. If you have a genuine appeal of the charge, appeal to ParkingEye as directed on the Parking Charge Notices sent. If not, a 40% reduction of the charge is offered for early payment.”

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