MSE update: 11.53am, 9 June: The case is due to be heard at The Supreme Court on Tuesday 21 July 2015. The Barry Beavis v ParkingEye Ltd case will be heard alongside Cavendish Square Holding BV v Talal El Makdessi, which also involves the enforceability of penalties. A judgment is expected before the end of 2015.
A motorist who vowed to continue fighting after losing a landmark private parking case has today filed his papers to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court – if he wins, the floodgates could open for others to reclaim excessive 'fines' levied by parking companies.
In February, Essex chip shop owner Barry Beavis mounted a challenge in the Court of Appeal after receiving an £85 parking ticket from private firm ParkingEye for overstaying in one of its car parks.
Beavis argued that the charge wasn't comparative to the loss incurred by the firm, but the Court of Appeal ruled against the 47-year-old in April, deeming the £85 to be reasonable.
While the decision set a legally binding precedent for lower courts in England and Wales to follow, judges didn't clarify what constituted an unreasonable 'fine', leaving the law grey on excessive private parking ticket charges.
If the Supreme Court rules in favour of the father of two, a new precedent will be set which could alter how such private tickets are handled and set limits on the charges, potentially retrospectively. The ruling will be binding on all lower courts in England and Wales.
Remember, if you believe you've unfairly been given a ticket from a private parking firm, whether it's £1 or £100, challenge it. For full info on how to fight unfair private parking tickets, see our step-by-step Fight Unfair Private Parking guide. See our Fight Unfair Council Parking Tickets guide for help with tickets received for parking on single yellow lines, in residents' bays, and more.
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What happens next?
As Beavis has now filed his court papers – he had 42 days from the Court of Appeal judgment to do so, giving him until Thursday 4 June – they will now be served to ParkingEye.
There's no set time limit on when the case will be heard at the Supreme Court, although it's expected to be next summer. The Supreme Court can refuse to hear cases, but it will provide a judgment, as the Court of Appeal granted Beavis the right to take it further.
Neither party will be able to appeal the Supreme Court's judgment to the European Court of Human Rights, as neither cited a breach of human rights when the case first came to the Court of Appeal. This means the Supreme Court's decision will be final.
How did this case come about?
Here's a timeline of events that led to Beavis' decision to file appeal papers to the Supreme Court today:
- In April 2013, Beavis left his car in a retail outlet car park in Chelmsford, Essex, that offered two hours of free parking.
- Beavis overstayed by 56 minutes and was sent a parking ticket by ParkingEye Limited, which managed the site, ordering him to pay £85, reduced to £50 if he paid within 14 days.
- Beavis read other people's experience of private parking tickets on a MoneySavingExpert.com forum and decided to ignore the letters and the charge.
- He then received a letter from a debt collection agency, as well as a court summons, which he couldn't ignore.
- Representing himself, Beavis appeared at Chelmsford County Court, but as only an hour had been assigned to hear the case, the district judge sent it to be heard at Cambridge County Court.
- The judge at Cambridge County Court concluded in May 2014 that the purpose of the £85 charge was to deter motorists from breaching the parking restrictions and that therefore it could be enforced as it was "commercially justified".
- Beavis was ordered to pay £130 – made up of an £80 charge and £50 in costs – to ParkingEye, but he immediately appealed the decision, saying he believed it could have a damning effect on all motorists using private car parks where the 'fines' imposed are several times more than the loss incurred by the land owner.
- On February 24, 2015, Beavis took the case to the Court of Appeal, where his QC Sa'ad Hossain argued that overstaying at one of ParkingEye's car parks wasn't comparative to the loss it incurred as a result, especially as the car park offered two hours of free parking.
- ParkingEye argued that the charge was 'commercially justifiable' as a means of deterring motorists from overstaying in a city centre car park, and that money collected funds the management of the free car park.