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Private Parking Fines

18th October 2017

A common belief is that parking fines issued by private companies are unenforceable. The misconception is that no contract is entered into between the motorist and company and that the fines imposed would be considered penalty clauses that a court would not enforce. However, a Supreme Court ruling in 2015 confirmed that clear sign postings could create a valid contract and that a £85 fine was enforceable. That position has been reinforced in Scotland in the decision of Sheriff Way at Dundee Sheriff Court in Vehicle Control Services Limited v Carly MacKie [2017] where he found in favour of the company.

Ms MacKie visited and lived with her parents at West Victoria Dock. The development factors entered into a contract with the pursuers who were to provide private parking for residents. Residents were required to display a permit when parking within the designated parking area. The pursuers erected eight signs warning that failure to display a permit would result in a £100 per day parking fine. Ms MacKie parked within the area without displaying a permit and failed to pay any of the fines issued over a number of years. She believed the fines were unenforceable.

Sheriff Way held that there was a valid contract, the contract had been breached and the fines were a legitimate mechanism to generate revenue for the parking arrangements. Ms MacKie was ordered to pay Vehicle Control £24,500 with interest and expenses. Following Sheriff Way’s decision, Ms MacKie has recently been declared bankrupt with debts of more than £37,000.

If you plan to ignore private parking fines you would, therefore, be well advised to seek legal advice sooner rather than later!

For more information please contact Tom Hempleman. For general inquiries about disputes, we have an experienced team which provides specialist advice. Please contact our disputes team to talk about your inquiry in more detail and we will be delighted to provide tailored legal advice.


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