A determined motorist is today continuing his fight against an unfair private parking 'fine' at the Supreme Court, after losing his test case at the Court of Appeal earlier this year.
Today is 47-year-old Barry Beavis' final chance to persuade judges to rule that an £85 private parking 'fine' issued by ParkingEye Ltd is excessive, considering he only overstayed 56 minutes in a two-hour free car park in Chelmsford.
John de Waal QC, who is representing the chip shop owner, will say the charges are 'extravagant and unconscionable'.
If the Supreme Court rules in favour of the father-of-two, a new precedent will be set, which will be binding on all lower courts in England and Wales, and could alter how private tickets on the same issue are handled, and set limits on the charges firms can apply.
This could open the floodgates for those with similar cases to claim for unfair charges, potentially retrospectively too.
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 Tickets 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?
Beavis' case has been heard alongside a similar one called Cavendish Square Holding BV v Talal El Makdessi (this case was heard on 21 and 22 July). A joint judgment is expected to be published before the end of the year.
Neither Beavis or ParkingEye 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.
Separately, Beavis announced that he's calling on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark MP, to introduce legislation to ensure the private parking industry is regulated and says he's offering his services as a 'parking tsar' to reform the landscape.
Beavis says there are multiple codes of practice and multiple appeal processes confusing motorists. He wants to see one single body, regulated and responsible to Government.
How has Beavis' 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.
- While shopping in the retail outlet, 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 MoneySavingExpert.com's 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 often 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. But ParkingEye maintained it was 'commercially justifiable' a means of deterring motorists from overstaying.
- On 23 April 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of ParkingEye, stating 'the amount payable is not extravagant or unconscionable' but it gave Beavis the right of appeal at the Supreme Court, as long as the papers were filed within 42 days of the hearing. The judges also failed to clarify what constitutes an unreasonable 'fine', leaving the law grey on excessive private parking ticket charges.
- On 3 June 2015, Beavis submits his papers to the Supreme Court – his final attempt to quash the unfair parking 'fine'.
- Today, 23 July 2015, Beavis is going to try and persuade the Supreme Court to vote in his favour.